Opposition International: Mission Description and Director Bio

Opposition International is a federally registered nonprofit in Canada, #1367965-9. Its goal is to help strengthen democracy by providing a resource for and about Opposition political parties globally. Based in Toronto, a diverse and tolerant city, OI has representatives in Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa with partners in South and SE Asia, South and Central America, MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa. It seeks a European partner. It will build and maintain an online registry of Opposition parties and leaders. This will assist analysis of the global state, and trends, of the Opposition. A priority is the exchange of ideas, people, and resources between parties and their diaspora. OI will advocate for standards of transparency and accountability to ensure the flow of home state-diaspora donations and overseas voting. Owen Lippert serves as Director and Probashi Mahmud, based in Dhaka, as head of support services with Naser Ahmed in charge of accounting.

Owen Lippert: statement

I was born in Kitchener, Ontario moved first to Vancouver, British Columbia, then in 1965 to Honolulu, Hawaii. I then attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana and Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. My favourite subject was Latin. To this day, I regularly translate relevant Roman and medieval texts.

My formal academic credentials are grounded in my Ph.D. in modern European history from the University Of Notre Dame, USA. My dissertation, War, Revolution, and Politics: The British General Election of 1918, examined how the election reflected the changes soon to engulf the world in the wake of WWI. Upon graduation, I worked in Taiwan for The Asia and World Institute, a think-tank formed by the progressive wing of the ruling Kuomintang. I witnessed and wrote on the emergence of a democracy in East Asia.

Returning to Canada, I joined the research bureau of the Social Credit caucus in the legislature of British Columbia. Rising through progressively more responsible positions, I served two sitting Premiers, Bill Bennett and Bill Vander Zalm. I was the political secretary for the Planning and Priorities committee of the Cabinet when I accepted the offer of A. Kim Campbell to work for her in Ottawa. As her Press Secretary and advisor, I assisted in her strong priority to advance women in democracy. In subsequent years, we crossed paths again on the topic when she served as the President of the Club of Madrid.

After the 1993 election, I took up the position of senior researcher with the Fraser Institute in Vancouver.  Among the topics, I dealt with was the role of the law in a market economy.  Through my work with the institute, I developed an international network of analysts and commentators particularly in South America where I lived for three years.

In 2002, I returned to Ottawa to work as a foreign policy advisor to Stephen Harper, then leader of the Opposition.  I contributed to the writing of his speeches.  Years later, a controversy arose over the closeness of his speech on Iraq with one given by the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard.  The simple truth is that I had written draft copy for both leaders’ speeches meant to have been delivered on the same day.  Meaningful democracy embraces politics where the best has to be made of tangled situations.

As my partner was an official with CIDA, we moved to Bangladesh where I served as the Chief of Party for the National Democratic Institute. During this time, I met Les Campbell, Chief of Staff to Ed Broadbent and NDI’s Senior Director for MENA, Grant Kippen, a former Director of the Liberal Party then with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and discussed the possibility of a “Democracy Institute” in Canada. As an aide to the Conservative Party’s seminal 2006 election platform, I raised the issue of a Canadian democracy agency. (See my recent article on the Canadian International Council blog) https://spacez.ca/test-post/

After the 2006 election, I returned to my NDI post in Bangladesh.  My work there had reached a critical point.  Starting in 2005, inspired by an earlier voters’ list integrity poll in Ecuador done by UNDP, I began planning a massive poll in Bangladesh of voter registration.  Our sample size was more than 20,000 people.  We uncovered about 12 million “bouya” or “ghost” voters.  The controversy contributed to the military’s suspension of the planned 2007 election, and subsequently a “free and fair” election on a clean voters’ list.

The military coup in 2007, led to my returning to Canada to serve as Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister for International Cooperation (CIDA), the Hon. Beverly ODA.   During that period, CIDA underwent a major restructuring and revival.  I raised again the question of a Canadian democracy agency.

A controversy arose in the 2008 election. I returned to Dhaka to work with UNDP and the Armed Forces on the implementation of a national voting list which led to a national identity card. I assisted the UNDP in Afghanistan on related issues.

Back in Canada I acted as the research director for the commission on the topic led by Tom Axworthy, former Principal Secretary to Pierre Trudeau.

In more recent years, I have worked with organizations in Asia, particularly Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand on democratic norms and participation.  The experience has strengthened my network of contacts and focussed my areas of concern on such topics as women’s empowerment, the political dysfunction of crony capitalism, and economically effective democratic decision-making.

Returning to Canada in 2017, I worked as a consultant to the East-West Management Institute and to Equinoccio (Spain) on projects in South Eastern Europe and South Eastern Asia. I was lead writer on almost 20 bid proposals.

 Currently, I am contributing to the specialized journals and special pieces for the Inroads journal and a piece on Diaspora funding of political parties.

My goal is that of a research-based civil society entrepreneur. That determination has lead to Opposition Interbational.

Opposition International will have many individuals contributing to it’s activities. As those activities as described in the front piece come on-line, the people responsible will introduce themselves.

Please feel free to contact us to convey comments and suggestions.