Nov. 29, 2019

Exploration geologist, oilsands leader named Distinguished Policy Fellows

School of Public Policy honours James Gray and Steve Williams for lifetime commitment to Canadian public policy

On Nov. 7, the School of Public Policy honoured recipients James K. Gray, O.C., A.O.E. and Steve Williams as Distinguished Policy Fellows for their lifetime commitment to Canadian public policy. The third annual Distinguished Policy Fellow Awards Dinner, which supports scholarships for the Master of Public Policy program, welcomed a sold-out room of more than 250 guests hosted by Danielle Smith with a keynote speech from noted national commentator Chantal Hébert.

The Distinguished Policy Fellowships are awarded annually to individuals who exhibit a distinguished record as leaders in public policy research, education, development, implementation, or advocacy.

James K. Gray is an exploration geologist who, for over 50 years, was engaged in the oil and natural gas exploration business in Western Canada. Steve Williams, former president, CEO and board member of Suncor, has long been an advocate for sustainable development in the energy industry. 

  • Photo above: Distinguished Policy Fellow James Gray, left, with alumna Eshleen Grewal, MPP’19. Adrian Shellard Photography

Both were presented their awards by Master of Public Policy alumni Shamus Hardie and Eshleen Grewal, MPP’19 graduates and grateful for their experience at the School of Public Policy.

Shamus Hardie and Steve Williams

Distinguished Policy Fellow Steve Williams, left, with alumnus Shamus Hardie, MPP’19.

Adrian Shellard Photography

This program challenged me to apply myself in class, at work, and in the community," said Hardie at the event. "Beyond the coursework, the program strengthened my understanding of how laws and regulations are formed, fostered a collaborative environment with people of diverse backgrounds and ideas, and forged a lasting network of connections with classmates and community leaders.” 

Grewal echoed that sentiment: “In the program, I had the privilege of learning from people who are experts in their respective fields. The instructors and researchers are the reason this is Canada’s leading policy school, and one of the reasons why so many people want to study here.”

In their acceptance speeches, Gray and Williams both offered inspiring words and advice for living in such complex times.

“Canada can and must turn one of today’s seemingly intractable problems — GHG emissions associated with bitumen production — into an economic solution, an opportunity, and we must do it on an urgent basis. We are already making progress, but the pace of change must be quickened. 

"We can meet and accept the challenge. Let’s set the goal — let’s make it ambitious and let’s plan for success. Societies respond positively to stretched and attractive goals and challenges. We can capitalize on a similar response: It can be done. We can do it,” Gray said.

Steve Williams remarked: “We live in a polarized world, and I think we could use, as an example, the recent elections, not just here in Canada; there is something systematic going on. It is happening abroad as well. We have a fractured society and … we talk with a bias, we listen with a bias, we teach with a bias, and we report with a bias. And, there is nowhere that that is more true than the fake, perceived conflict between the economy and the environment. Absolutely the opposite is true: you cannot have a healthy environment without a healthy economy and vice versa. So the two have to go hand in hand. […] Be open to others’ perspectives; step forward with your own ideas; commit to working on the solutions […] and progress them; take a long-term view.”

Thanking the audience for their support of the School and the MPP program, Dr. PG Forest, director of the School and James S. and Barbara A. Palmer Chair in Public Policy, concluded, “We will continue to train the best, most in-demand policy analysts in Canada. But all the while, we will continue our role as a stabilizing force, a beacon of fact, truth, and empiricism in a world of fake news and distrust.

"Canada needs the School of Public Policy, now more than ever, Alberta needs the School of Public Policy, and Calgary needs the School of Public Policy, more than ever."

President McCauley opening remarks

UCalary President Ed McCauley presented remarks at the Distinguished Policy Fellow Awards Dinner.

Adrian Shellard Photography

About the Master of Public Policy program

The goal of the Master of Public Policy program is to train policy professionals for leadership positions in government and the private sector. Our students develop a comprehensive approach that enables them to collaborate with senior policy leaders from government, business and the community to address issues in a practical, focused and global manner. The program fosters in students an appreciation of the importance of effective institutions, efficient regulation and the role that markets play in open, democratic societies. Learn more about the School of Public Policy