The Ian Reid Scholarship


The Ian Reid Scholarship will be awarded annually to students committed to working in politics to promote the values and goals of social democracy. It is intended specifically for those pursuing careers in political research, strategy and communications.

The scholarship has been established in collaboration with the NOW Group and Paul Degenstein upon his retirement as a NOW partner. It celebrates Paul’s late husband, Ian Reid, and the contribution Ian made in making life better for Canadians.

The scholarship also recognizes the role of 2SLGBTQ+ people in the social democratic movement. And it seeks to encourage greater racial, cultural, economic and gender inclusion around the decision-making table – to create public policy that better meets the needs and aspirations of everyone.

The Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation for Social Democracy is proud to have been chosen by Ian's dearest friends and family to be the home for this scholarship in his memory. If you would like to make a contribution in memory of Ian Reid please use this link:

All donations in memory of Ian Reid will be used exclusively for the purpose of this scholarship. 


About Ian Reid 

Ian Reid spent his political career supporting and advising social democratic leaders and the New Democratic party. Ian believed in the necessity of political work and the potential of social democracy as a force for good. He believed that listening and learning from people was the starting point in making positive change. He was a passionate advocate for using research as an instrument to do that and to develop messages that speak to people’s hearts and minds. His goal was to elect progressive governments and put in place policies that make a difference in people’s lives.

For many years, Ian was the Head of Opinion Research for the NDP government in British Columbia. In that role and others, he was one of Canada’s most brilliant research experts. He was able to cut through the noise, identify trends, and draw insights from what he heard. He made research useable for campaigners, communicators, and policy-makers – so that we could better connect with our audiences,
speak to their aspirations, shape policy and meet their needs.

As a political researcher, Ian was also a pioneer. He humanized the demographic groupings in polling. Long before it became a standard practice, he had campaigns put names and faces to people within those groupings, discuss the daily challenges those diverse individuals face, to strengthen our understanding of where they’re coming from and what they’re looking for.

Ian continued his work through 12 years of a terminal illness, serving at the end of his career as Carole James’ Chief of Staff. He died in 2014 at age 58. His three children – Jordan, Shamus, and Alexis – carry forward his work in politics, advocacy and government.

  • Two applicants annually will receive the Ian Reid scholarship: One $1500 prize,
    and one $1000 award.
  • The scholarship is open to students from any Canadian public post-secondary institution enrolled in an undergraduate degree.
  • It is for students pursuing a career promoting social democracy in politics and government –
    with a focus on research, strategy and communications in particular.
  • A goal is to encourage greater inclusion and diversity around decision-making tables. All people
    who seek or actively support this goal are encouraged to apply.
  • An essay component will be a key part of the selection process. The essays from the winning
    candidates will be published online by the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation.


This year’s essay will focus on defending and supporting transgender rights.
In Canada, we have seen an alarming attack by right-wing politicians and governments on
transgender rights and SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) education in our public

The essay should address the following questions:
- How can we as social democrats help combat these attacks and promote greater
understanding and equality, together with the 2SLGBTQ+ community?
- How do we reframe the conversation around SOGI and transgender rights?

In your 750-1000 word essay, please:
-Talk about why this matters and who’s affected
- Define what’s at stake and what opponents to transgender equality are doing
- Propose a way forward to counter hate and attain greater equality for transgender kids and
2SLGBTQ Canadians?
- Outline a strategy to develop and deliver the best arguments to counter the attacks on
transgender kids and their families.


Much thanks to the NOW Group for initiating and supporting the Ian Reid Scholarship. For over 30 years, NOW has been working with governments, unions, non-profits and advocacy organizations to win victories for workers, strengthen public services and promote positive change. In his work as a Partner and Chief Creative Officer at NOW, Paul Degenstein guided the creative team through more than 20 provincial and federal election campaigns, including 8 NDP victories. A popular debate coach, Paul supported national and provincial leaders across the country. We thank Paul for his help in honouring his late husband and the NOW Group for their support.  

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