September 2021 - Hugh Segal
Title: Guaranteed Annual Income - Yes or No?
Hugh Segal, noted political adviser, former Senator, and former head of Massey College , University of Toronto, gave a wide- ranging talk to our Applewood Probus Club on September on September 9, 2021. Introduced by Lloyd Posno, and thanked by Tom Axworthy, Segal discussed both the recent Afghanistan calamity and the state of poverty in Canada, making connections between the two topics. Poverty, he stated, is the underlying condition of Afghanistan (which he visited during his Senate years) and it is a condition that the Taliban exploited to return to power.
Canada is not Afghanistan but Segal made the point that according to a Statistics Canada report in 2021, 3.7 million Canadians lived below the poverty line, but unlike many poor societies in the world , Canada has the resources to alleviate this critical problem if we deploy these resources properly. Much of Segal's talk was devoted to the solution he highlights in his recent book "Bootstraps Need Boots, namely a Guaranteed Basic Income" . This idea has a long pedigree, starting with the conservative economist Milton Friedman, running through Richard Nixon who proposed such a plan in 1969, to the Pierre Trudeau government which partnered with Manitoba to create a pilot program in Dauphin Manitoba in the 1970s, to our own time with the Ontario Government of Kathleen Wynne also starting an experimental program in Hamilton and Brantford in 2017 (which Segal advised on). These experiments show that basic income support reduces the uses of emergency rooms by the poor significantly (among other benefits). Segal therefore argued that the $50 billion cost of a national income program would help the provinces deal with rising health costs as provincial welfare costs would fall with the federal government taking on poverty reduction and health usage by the low income would fall. Thought about broadly enough, Segal maintained, Guaranteed Basic Income support is also a contribution to a better sharing of health costs.
This thesis prompted many questions from Probus members about work incentives and labour shortages, the lessons from the CERB program to respond to the economic impacts of Covid and the political will to do such a progam (not much Segal admitted). Hugh Segal is one of the leading public intellectuals in Canada and his talk to Probus showed why he is regarded so highly.
October 2021 - Adam Shoalts
Title: Exploring the Wilds of Canada
The Applewood Probus Club was treated to a return visit from Mr. Adam Shoalts . Mr. Shoalts has been described by CBC as the “greatest living Canadian explorer”. He is a professional adventurer and the author of four national best selling books. His career has included mapping rivers, leading expeditions, numerous archaeological digs, tracking endangered species and completing a nearly 4,000 mile solo journey across the Canadian Artic. He grew up in rural Canada with a forest on his doorstep. Mr Shoalts graduated from Brock University with an Honours BA, after being named top student in the humanities . He subsequently completed a Master’s degree and a PhD at McMaster University. He is a regular guest on TV and radio, and his work has been featured in media around the world.
He has been named a national champion of the Trans Canada Trail and the 2018 Explore in Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society
After being ably introduced by our well- know member of the speakers committee Reg Perkin, Mr. Shoalts spoke on his most recent adventures in Labrador, highlighted in his most recent book entitled “The Whisperer on the Night Wind”.
In the early 1900’s an isolated little settlement in Labrador was the scene of an extraordinary haunting by large creatures no one could identify. The eye -witness accounts were often detailed by highly credible individuals . Something did emerge from the wilderness to haunt this little sentiment. Adam decided to pick up this trail from a century ago and presented his experiences in his presentation.
His speech, (and his latest book), combines folklore, expanding on his experiences during his time in Labrador.
November 2021 - Matthew Wilkinson
Title: WW11 and its effect on Mississauga
Our speaker on Thursday, November 11th, was Matthew Wilkinson, Historian/Lecturer, City of Mississauga.
Matthew told the story of WW11 and its effect on Mississauga and Peel Region.
It was a reflective and thoughtful presentation and a tribute not only to our faithful veterans but to also the dedication of many civilian citizens working in manufacturing facilities in Mississauga (then Toronto Township) contributing to Canada’s war effort.
In conclusion Matthew reminded us that freedom should be remembered each and every day and not taken for granted.
December 2021 - Jerry Amernic
Title: Babe Ruth - A Superstar’s Legacy
This book is more about Babe Ruth as a marketing wonder and as a person than it is about baseball. (Babe Ruth was more than a baseball legend. He was a marketer extra-ordinaire and a collectors’ dream for all his memorability.)
We had a higher number of attendees than usual for this Zoom meeting, an indication of our interest in the topic.
Our expectations for a great presentation were not disappointed in spite of horrendous technical difficulties with Internet and telephone difficulties at the speaker’s end.
These difficulties were doubly disappointing since, at the speaker’s request, our technical team had had a dry run with the speaker on Monday, and a further slide and sound check with him on Wednesday. But who can control local internet and telephone availability?
Thanks to Jerry for persevering with an eventual telephone hook up and subsequently with slides and video clips emailed through to Paul Ferri.
In the end, it was a wonderful and entertaining, as well as an informative, presentation with most of the original attendees staying to the end at 11:30 am.
Thank you, Jerry!
I believe many members will want to read your book.
January 2022 - Dr. Denis Crawford
Title: The Life and Teams of Johnny F. Bassett
Dr. Crawford provided us with great insight into the creativeness, persistence, the accomplishments and challenges faced by Bassett as he tried to influence the sports fans of the Greater Toronto Area. One could conclude Bassett was ahead of his time as fans, City politicians or the federal government seemed to only react negatively to his initiatives not recognizing what he trying to do. In many ways, he paved the way for other teams, namely the Blue Jays, the Raptors and the Indy, to follow and enjoy much success in Toronto with considerable support and interest from Ontarians and Canadians alike. He provided us with many details of his initiatives into football, tennis, hockey and Formula One racing in Toronto. The author clearly has done much research into Bassett’s adventures but also to be effective, he needed to understand market and the fans. The presentation was well done, was interesting and captured the attention of the audience throughout. Without this book, the history of Toronto sports teams would not be complete.
February 10, 2022 - Mark Fisher, BSc.,ICD.D President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region
Title: Encouraging Sustainable Economic Growth in the Great Lakes
Speaker introduced by Lloyd Posno and thanked by Reg Perkin
The Council brings together an equal number of Canadian and USA representatives from the provinces and states bordering the Great Lakes. The five lakes constitute the largest fresh water system in the world, and the area has a population of 100 million and total annual GDP of 6.0 trillion USD.
The presentation was conducted in a Q&A format with Lloyd Posno directing questions to Mark Fisher. Many topics were covered including climate change and contamination (global warming, water levels, oil pipelines, plastic waste); the relationship with our U.S. neighbour (their GDP mostly internal, ours mostly external; political and trade issues); and the challenges of staffing and funding the Council.
Mark provided the following link to an Economic Forum his group is hosting this June www.greatlakeseconomicforum.com. This would be worth attending.
The question period following the presentation was one of the busiest in recent memory and lasted about 20 minutes. Clear indication that our members found Mark Fisher’s presentation interesting and informative.
March 10, 2022 – Gary Mar. President and CEO of the Canada West Foundation.
Title: Canada’s Trade and Security relationships with China – where are we headed?
Speaker introduced by Lloyd Posno and thanked by Alan Lytle
The Canada West Foundation has been active for 50 years. Its focus is on:
Natural Resources - Forestry, Mining, Oil and Gas. For more information see https://cwf.ca
Human Resources – How to prepare children with workforce competencies.
Trade, Investment, Infrastructure – Move from “shovel ready” to “shovel worthy”
Gary began his conversation with a brief trade history of China over the last couple of centuries. For most of its history China was the largest economy in the world. The British Empire took over in the 19th Century, the US in the 20th Century, and it is possible China will reassume that role in the 21st Century.
He looked at world politics through the lens of international trade and made the point that it is businesses, not countries, that trade.
A key business in the west is oil and gas. The current situation in Ukraine has highlighted the need for fuel availability until renewable energy can actually replace fossil fuels. His point is that emissions are the key issue, not the fossil fuel itself. Focus on technology solutions to eliminate emissions is important to combat climate change.
These solutions will help overcome emission issues and by working with our trading partners, including China, can enable Canada to be a bridge to clean technology.
On the security issue as regards trade he advises universities and companies to be wise to the possibilities of intellectual property theft and manage their business appropriately.
A very thoughtful and timely presentation which prompted a good discussion.
April 14, 2022 - Bill Robson CEO C.D. Howe Institute
Title: Macro Mischief: Debt, Inflation, and Canada’s Economic Challenges
Bill Robson was introduced by Bob Weese and went on to discuss the economic state of Canada. Bill gave us the latest perspective on key issues Canada faces, including the latest Budget both missing and included items, upcoming Liberal spending plans vs the Bank of Canada strategy to combat inflation through raising interest rates, and the fiscal legacy of the pandemic, plus the real and perceived impact of inflation.
About the C.D. Howe Institute: Widely considered to be Canada's most influential think tank, the Institute is a trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review. The Institute's research is national in scope, and they host policy events across the country.
The Applewood Probus meeting had the new hybrid structure with half the attendees at PCYC and the other half at home on Zoom. The meeting ran very smoothly with questions fielded seamlessly from either audience.
Bill was thanked by Marcus Miller
May 12, 2022 – Martha Hall Findlay, Suncor Energy
Martha Hall Findlay is a Canadian businesswoman, entrepreneur, lawyer and a former MP from Toronto, who now is Chief Climate Officer for Suncor Energy, Canada’s largest integrated energy producer. Suncor’s operations include oil sands development, production and upgrading; offshore oil and gas; petroleum refining in Canada and the US; and its national Petro‑Canada™ retail distribution network.
As Chief Climate Officer, Ms. Hall Findlay leads Suncor’s efforts to address the nexus of climate and energy. Her duties include planning and managing many of Suncor’s external relationships and collaborations to build an environment that supports a positive future for Canadian energy. She was instrumental in the development of and plays a critical leadership role in the oil sands industry’s “Pathways to Net Zero by 2050” initiative, for which Suncor has been a leading sponsor.
Ms. Hall Findlay described how Suncor has set absolute emissions reduction goals aligned with its objective to reduce the company’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2050. Suncor’s plans include reducing its base business emissions through various technologies, including the near-term replacement of high emissions coke-fired heating, by developing and implementing new means of carbon capture and disposal on a large scale, and taking actions that reduce others’ emissions linked to its products.
Ms. Hall Findlay was candid in conveying how challenging all this will be to accomplish. Nevertheless, Suncor is determined to succeed while satisfying the expectations of diverse stakeholders including shareholders, multiple levels of government, regulators, lenders, and the public at large. Achieving success is critically important. The world’s demand for energy will inevitably increase in keeping with population growth and rising levels of global development. The energy industry, and in particular the oil sands, represent an important share of Canada’s overall economy, yet at present, the oil sands also contribute about 11% of Canada’s GHG emissions. Suncor believes success in reducing emissions from the oilsands to net zero is achievable – but it will require unprecedented collaboration by all of the stakeholders mentioned, and entail massive investments in emerging new technologies and process upgrades.
Ms. Hall Findlay made a convincing case that Suncor’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions to net zero is genuine and will be sustained. Her message is optimistic and a call for cooperative action. If other stakeholders will work with Suncor and its “Pathways” alliance partners, there is a real opportunity for this industry’s current negative impact on our climate to be neutralized.
June 9 2022, via ZOOM and In-Person - Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon
Title: The American Polity is Cracked, and Might Collapse: Canada Must Prepare
Dr. Homer- Dixon is currently the director of the Cascades Institute at Royal Roads University in Victoria and holds a Research Chair in the Environment at the University of Waterloo.
He started by explaining how his background in International Relations, Defence, and Conflict Studies, together with his concerns over the challenges of climate change, combined to encourage him to write an op-ed in the Globe and Mail last December 31 which formed the basis of his talk to us.
He highlighted how the recent political developments in the U.S. and the rise of Trumpism have a number of parallels - the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920’s and modern-day autocracies in Hungary and Russia.
The increasing polarization of political and social values and the rise of violence in the U.S. could lead to a potential breakdown in democracy and even a possible civil war or at least extreme violence if the presidential election in 2024 is close and disputed.
He pointed out the need for Canada to be prepared for a totalitarian neighbour and trading partner and the risk of an extremely partisan, libertarian movement spreading into Canada. He, like many others, thought this unlikely until the truckers’ convoy in January and recent divisions within the conservative movement in Canada.
He is somewhat comforted by recent indications of factions in the Republican Party starting to separate from Mr. Trump. However, he points out that extreme views are now so deeply embedded in the GOP that these factions may be even more dangerous to democratic stability in the long run.
A very interesting, if scary, presentation which generated a lot of questions. While disconcerting, it was enjoyed by both those present and those on line. For more information, read his article in the Globe and Mail of December 31, 2021, or go to our recording of the event.
Dr. Homer-Dixon was thanked by Roy Hicks.
July 14 2022, In-Person - Dr. Mohamad Fakih
Title: An Immigrant Making it In Canada
Dr. Mohamad Fakih, Founder and President of Paramount Fine Foods. He is considered the "most admired CEO in Canada". He is a Lebanese-Canadian businessperson and philanthropist.
Founder of the Middle Eastern Halal restaurant chain, Paramount Fine Foods, Fakih is also known for his charitable work, philanthropy and community service through the Fakih Foundation.
August 11, 2022 , In Person - Sarah Schnobel
Title: How to Best Preserve Your Autonomy
Ms. Schnobel addressed us on the spectrum of care options available to Ontario seniors from a very practical and hands-on perspective. These include active living in place supplemented with home care, retirement home independent living or assisted living, and long-term care. The presentation included some guidance on what to expect in terms of care and costs.
She also talked about the estate planning documents that should be prepared and a very practical list of the type of information and very importantly, their location (ideally shared with your will executor and family members). The information includes(among others) such things as – Wills, Power of Attorney, end of life instructions, insurance policies, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, tax returns, business agreements, property documents, debts, birth and marriage/divorce certificates, medical records, and care instructions, and passports.
She mentioned that planning aids to guide you through the task are available from financial and other organizations. Ms Schnobel was introduced by Alan Lyttle and thanked by Roy Hicks.
September 8, 2022 , Zoom - Peter Black
Title: Voting Systems and True Democracy
Mr. Black's talk included a description and history of the "first past the post" voting process used in Canada and proportional voting used in the majority of democracies.
He described the advantages and shortcomings of both systems. He described a mixed-member proportional voting process recommended to some Canadian jurisdictions. He mentioned that proportional voting is viewed by the proponents as being more democratic, less confrontational, and encouraging more voter participation. He encouraged members to support the adaption of proportional voting in Canada and explained how this might be done.
Click here for slide presentation