Ryerson won against U of T in an inaugural foreign policy student debate held at Ryerson University Thursday.
Hosted by the Canadian International Council Toronto, the debate was about the decline of Canada’s influencing role in the world.
Ryerson’s Jake Brunt and Macey Cohen argued in favour of the resolution, while U of T’s Sam Greene and Jake Brockman opposed.
The judges, faculty members Arne Kislenko, Linda Goldthorp, and Robert Teigrob, declared Ryerson the winner, despite being impressed by both sides. All three judges are renowned scholars of international relations.
“We loved U of T’s delivery and we acknowledge that they were faced with the more challenging side,” Goldthorp said. “That said, we ultimately voted with the house [those arguing in favour of the resolution] as Ryerson too had a fine delivery and they were very effective in defining strong measurable influence.”
Brunt argued that there exists a disconnect between Canada’s rhetoric and action.
“Canada has the potential to be a key player in the world, but it’s all based on speculations,” he said.
Cohen added that the country used to be at the heart of important organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, until its influence gradually declined in the 1990s.
As evidence, she pointed to Canada’s lost bid to occupy a UN Security Council to Portugal and Prime Minister Stephen Harper walking away from the Kyoto Protocol.
On the other hand, Greene said that Canadian ideas are shaping the world.
In support of Greene’s claim, Brockman listed events when foreign countries looked up to Canada, for example.
“Canada has a powerful constitution that is shaping other countries’ constitutions,” he said, citing Israel’s basic laws and the Arab Spring when countries followed Canada’s lead.
The speaker of the house, Jo-Ann Davis, moderated the debate’s question and answer portion.
The house overwhelmingly voted in favour of the resolution, as they felt Canada’s global influence through documents such as its constitution was actually negligible.
Next year’s debate will be held at Hart House and will once again be between U of T and Ryerson.
Semra Eylul Sevi is a former Hart House debater.