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Phil Paine Wins 2023 Dalton Camp Award and $10,000 Prize For Essay Education Gave Birth To Our Democracy. Will It Protect It?

“We need a well-informed public to ensure democracy survives the next century.”

Phil Paine - winner of 2023 Dalton Camp Award

JUNE 27, 2023- TORONTO – Toronto’s Phil Paine has won the 2023 Dalton Camp Award for his essay Education Gave Birth To Our Democracy. Will It Protect It?, a powerful reflection on the link between education and democracy.

The Dalton Camp Award is a $10,000 prize for the best essay on the link between media and democracy, presented annually by FRIENDS.

Phil Paine is a blogger and a writer of academic articles on the history and philosophy of democracy.

Education Gave Birth To Our Democracy. Will It Protect It? speaks to the value that literacy and education bring to Canadian society and public institutions. The author argues that these values can help protect and preserve our democracy in the face of propaganda and misinformation.

“It’s general education, including education in logic and critical thinking, that will make the media a vehicle for democracy. That’s why the enemies of democracy in our society are so keen on destroying public education.” 

— An excerpt from Education Gave Birth To Our Democracy. Will It Protect It?

The Tyee published the full essay online on Tuesday 27 June 2023. It is available in full here. ↗︎

“The point I was making with my essay was that education, public education, is what makes it work,” said Paine. “Democratic institutions don’t work in a place where people are driven by superstition. It doesn’t work in places where people don’t use reasonably logical reasoning,” he added.

The Dalton Camp Award was created in 2002 to honour the memory of Dalton Camp, a distinguished commentator on Canadian public affairs. The winner was chosen from amongst over 300 entries, by a volunteer jury, which included Michael Den Tandt, Temur Durrani, Sarah El-Shaarawi, Jane Hilderman and Danielle Paradis.

The winner for best student essay is Samir Baig for Why We Don’t Care…and How to Get Us To, a reflection on how media can help get young people engaged in the democratic process. 

“The point I was trying to make was that myself, and a lot of people my age, are sort of disinterested or feel disenfranchised in the world of politics,” said Baig. “I think it’s largely because whether it’s the media or our political figures that we hear about on a daily basis, they don’t really advocate for things that we want or need.”

This year’s Dalton Camp Award also features a special one-time honorarium for an essay by high school student Ellis Jackson, Big Names, Big Money and the Dangers of Media Concentration, a reflection on the dangers of having media owned by a few large conglomerates.

“Credible, reliable and independent journalism has never been more important, yet it is constantly under threat,” said Marla Boltman, Executive Director for FRIENDS. “We at FRIENDS value the contribution Canadian journalists make to keeping citizens informed and connected. It is our honour to be awarding this prize to three writers who have taken the time to think and reflect on how citizens can be engaged in the democratic process through the lens of the media.”

The Tyee and The Toronto Star are official media partners for the 2023 Dalton Camp Award.

FRIENDS is a non-partisan citizens movement that stands up for Canadian voices in Canadian media — from public broadcasting to news, culture and online civility — FRIENDS works to protect and defend Canada’s rich cultural sovereignty and the healthy democracy it sustains. We are a not-for-profit organization that is not funded by government money or donations from political parties or entities regulated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).


For more information:

Sarah Andrews
Director, Government and Media Relations