Couchiching Connects: March 2015

In this Issue:

Couch News

The President's Message

Gala 2015


Summer Conference


Couch Community News



Alumni in the News

Conference Readings

Calling All Readers!

The President's Message Adam Redish

You can feel it in the air, can't you — those first early signs of spring? The days are getting longer, the clocks have been moved forward, and we are past the brutally cold dark days of February. The upcoming Spring promises to be exciting and event-filled. Not only are the annual Gala and Public Policy Award ceremony coming up on April 13th (see below for a list of our fabulous table hosts and the link to buying tickets), but, as Ahmer Khan reports, an excellent Conversation with Rabbi Yossi Sapirman has just taken place, with details to be reported in the April issue of Couchitching Connects. On April 1st we will host a Conversation with John Ralston Saul on his latest book.

Conference co-chairs Helen Tewolde and Heather Keachie have been hard at work in planning the 2015 Summer Conference, and if spring is here, that means summer and the conference can’t be far away. I encourage you to read on and get caught up on the conference speakers' line-up and all the rest of Couch news....

The Couchiching Gala 2015: The Institute's Signature Toronto Event, April 13th
Chair, Public Policy and Gala Committees, Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

Meet Our Distinguished 2015 Table Hosts


Jesse Brown was first heard by Canadians on his hit CBC Radio show, The Contrarians, a program about “unpopular ideas” that just might be right. From there, he hosted Search Engine, a podcast that explored the effects of the Internet and social media on politics and culture. He’s now the host of a popular podcast, Canadaland, in which he sits down with some of Canada’s best and brightest from industries spanning high-tech to the arts.

Michael Chong was first elected to Parliament in 2004 and represents the Ontario riding of Wellington-Halton Hills. As cabinet minister, Michael served as President of the Queen’s Privy Council, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Minister for Sport. He is most widely known for his private member's Bill C586: The Reform Act, which was recently passed in Parliament.

Terry Fallis is the author of four national bestsellers. His debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC Canada Reads as the “essential Canadian novel of the decade.“ In January 2014, CBC aired a six-part television miniseries based on The Best Laid Plans, earning positive reviews.

Jane Farrow, a passionate Torontonian, city builder, former CBC broadcaster, and Jane’s Walk founder, is currently the Director of Participation and Learning at MASS LBP, one of Canada’s leading experts on public engagement and deliberation.

Dr. Freda Miller is a cell and molecular developmental neurobiologist at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute and Professor at the University of Toronto. She is best known for her studies of neural and dermal stem cells and of neuronal growth, survival, and apoptosis. She was also a founder of Aegera Therapeutics Inc., a Canadian biotechnology company.

Bob Rae was elected to the House of Commons 11 times between 1978 and 2013. He served as Ontario’s 21st Premier and was Interim Federal Leader and Foreign Affairs Critic for the Liberal Party of Canada. He is currently a Senior Partner at OKT LLP.

Tabatha Southey is a writer and weekly columnist at The Globe and Mail. She is the monster at the end of this book

Click here to reserve your Gala ticket.

Couchiching Conversations
Chair Ahmer Khan

Couchiching Conversations are free public events that aim to provide a safe space for challenging discussions.

February 26th: “Reflections on Youth Participation in Society: Stepping up for the Next Generation”
Sean Twyford, Project Director of the Youth Strategies Branch of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, led the Conversation, the first of this year's Intergenerational Series examining civic engagement and how the next generational will take part. The audience came from a wide range of organizations, demonstrating the importance of this Conversation. A special thank you to Couchiching Conversations Committee member Andrea Salguero for championing the Conversation.

March 19th, “Modern Judaism: What Have We Learned? What Can We Pass On?”
Rabbi Yossi Sapirman, the senior rabbi a Beth Torah Congregation in North York, Ont., has transformed a synagogue that was once on the fringes of the Toronto Jewish community into a hub of dynamic and progressive Judaism. He has spearheaded "Now Judaism," a philosophy that empowers individuals to confidently engage tradition and history while embracing modernity and future. Rabbi Yossi has extended his warmth and broad vision to a multi-faith world and has embraced the challenges and rewards of interfaith dialogue and engagement. He also on the governing boards of MAZON Canada, the Jewish National Fund, and the Centre for Diversity, and is involved in many local and national projects and causes.

Beth Torah was one of the first synagogues in Toronto, established over 50 years ago. As time has passed, Judaism has, naturally, evolved. Perhaps there has been a change in thinking about what it means to be Jewish, or there has been a shift in how Jewish people view their traditions. Either way, the shift begs the question, how can one appreciate religious tradition while applying its teachings to current times? According to Rabbi Yossi, "the most modern Judaism is the one that makes tradition relevant."

A report on this Conversation will appear in the April issue of Couchiching Connects.

An Upcoming Conversation in Toronto

April 1st, The Comeback: How Aboriginals are Reclaiming Power and Influence
Join John Ralston Saul at Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham Street, to discuss his latest book, The Comeback: How Aboriginals are Reclaiming Power and Influence. This Conversation will be held in partnership with the International Festival of Authors, and is the inaugural event from the Book(re)marks series, a free public event featuring non-fiction authors whose works are of social, political, or cultural importance. He will be interviewed by Pamela Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University.

About John Ralston Saul

John Ralston Saul is an award-winning essayist, novelist, and current President of PEN International. The Comeback explores the resurgence of Aboriginal people in the Canadian spotlight and argues that the relationship between Canada and First Nations is the most pressing issue of our time.

For more information about Couchiching Conversations and to share Conversation news and ideas, visit

The 2015 Summer Conference
Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a New Deal between Generations
August 7th to 9th, 2015
Conference Co-Chairs Heather Keachie and Helen Tewolde

Mark August 7 to 9th, 2015 on your calendars and join us at the lake for a discussion of the generation(s)!

Introducing Remarkable Leaders Who Will Speak at the 2015 Summer Conference

David Dodge, OC, FRSC, held senior positions in the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Anti-Inflation Board, and the Department of Employment and Immigration. After serving in a number of increasingly senior positions at the Department of Finance, including that of G-7 Deputy, he was Deputy Minister of Finance from 1992 to 1997. In that role, he served as a member of the Bank of Canada’s Board of Directors.

In 1998 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Health, a position he held until his appointment as Governor of the Bank of Canada in February 2001, retiring in January 2008. From 2008 to 2014, he served as Chancellor of Queen’s University.

Mr. Dodge is Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP, one of Canada’s leading law firms. He is a member of the board of directors of Canadian Utilities Limited, ATCO Limited, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and the Bank of Nova Scotia. He also chairs the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on STEM Skills.

During his academic career, he taught economics at Queen’s University; at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; at the Faculty of Commerce at the University of British Columbia; and at Simon Fraser University. He also served as Director of the International Economics Program of the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Mr. Dodge was the 2012 recipient of the Couchiching Award for Public Policy. He has been awarded number of honorary degrees and in 2009, was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He received a bachelor’s degree (honours) from Queen’s University, and a PhD in economics from Princeton.

Jim Leech, C.M., the Chancellor of Queen’s University, is the former President and CEO of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, one of the world’s largest and most innovative pension funds. In 2013, he co-authored The Third Rail, Confronting our Pension Failures, a best-selling book that received the 2013-2014 Best Canadian Business Book Award and was a finalist for the Donner Award for contribution to Canadian public policy.

Mr. Leech is currently Chancellor of Queen’s University (one of Canada’s leading research intensive universities); Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company; chair of Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation (Canada’s largest hospital foundation) and MasterCard Foundation ($10 billion foundation focused on youth education and financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa); and an Honorary Colonel in the Canadian Forces.

In 2012, he was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of his work with True Patriot Love Foundation. In May 2014, he was a member of Canada’s largest expedition to ski to the magnetic north pole to raise awareness and funds for Canadian military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr. Leech was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada for his for contributions to Canada as an innovator in pension management, for his writings on the subject of retirement funding, and for his community involvement.

Mr. Leech holds a B.Sc. (Hons. Math and Physics) from the Royal Military College of Canada and an MBA from Queen's University. He is also a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Fund-Raising! Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a New Deal between Generations
Co-chairs Karen Hamilton and Ross Anderson

By Karen Hamilton

"The last time I wrote about our mutual responsibility for fund-raising for the variety of ways in which the uniqueness of the Institute is expressed in Canada, it was cold and snowy. It is still cold and snowy. But neither cold, nor snow, nor even ice will prevent the Institute from fulfilling its appointed role to build Canadian democracy — one conversation at a time. We are an essential civil place to disagree.

Anything worth doing, however, requires funding and capacity. If it doesn't, it probably isn't worth doing. Conversations about the issues of our Canadian democracy are worth it; Couchiching is worth it.

So with limited capacity, we continue to raise the necessary funds. Substantive funding from a number of sources very committed to what we do and the necessity of doing it has come in. We are about half way to what is essential to go forward. But more is needed and needed now.

Please send in your personal donations, register for the Gala, and then the Summer Conference, show up at the Conversations, AND bring two friends or colleagues with you to all these opportunities. Encourage the financial contributions of those in all your networks to the unique privilege of building democracy in Canada at a time when it is in a fragile state in so many other countries.

And my personal promise ... the weather will improve — who knows by how much exactly — but it will improve by the time of the Gala. Think ahead, too, to sunscreen and sailing in between deep and lively discussion at the Summer Conference.


Couchiching Community News



The Couchiching community extends our condolences to Margaret Lefebvre on the passing of her husband, Ronald Walker, on January 23rd in Montreal. Ron was also the father of former board member Brent Walker and until his illness was a regular participant in the Summer Conference. Margaret served the Institute as president for the 2001 and 2002 summits and was treasurer for many years.

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We also extend our condolences to Karen Hamilton, fundraising co- chair, and to Heather Keachie, Summer Conference co-chair, on the passing of their mother and grandmother, Sylvia Hamilton, on March 7th in Toronto.

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The Globe and Mail, February 25th: An editorial commented: “Thanks to Michael Chong, this year’s federal election just got more interesting. Mr. Chong, a Conservative MP from Ontario, has managed to get his Reform Act passed by the House of Commons. The bill has been watered down from its ambitious original form, but it still puts a check on the powers that party leaders use to silence MPs and turn them into rubber stamps.” He will be a table host at the 2015 Couchiching Gala.

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Alumni in the News

The Globe and Mail, March 14th” Hon. Michael Wilson, P.C., C.C., B.Com., LL.D, has been re-elected to serve a second three-year term as Chancellor of the University of Toronto. In 2003, he became the inaugural recipient of the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership.

The Chronicle-Herald, March 12th”: Sports reporter Remo Zaccagna wrote: “Early in his career, trying to curb doping in international sports might have seemed like a worldwide game of Whac-A-Mole for Richard Pound. No matter what regulations or testing were being implemented to thwart would-be cheaters, a new way to bend or outright break the rules was being developed. While that’s still happening, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency believes that a majority of the world’s athletes want to play fair.” He was a keynote speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport,” (

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Winnipeg Free Press, March 8th: Reporter Larry Kusch wrote: “Ovide Mercredi, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and a staunch [Premier] Greg Selinger supporter, is the new president of the Manitoba NDP. He was a speaker at the 2011 Summer Conference, “From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in Our Time”

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The Agenda, TV Ontario, March 6th: In an episode entitled “Aboriginal Education: Closing the Gap”, former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Julia O’Sullivan, dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), joined host Steve Paikin to discuss the results of the Martin Aboriginal Educational Initiative, a five-year project with OISE aimed at boosting reading and writing scores in Aboriginal schools. Mr. Martin was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous People and Canada” ( ).

See more: All episodes of The Agenda are available on-demand in streaming video and audio and video podcasts at

Aaron Paquette’s new book is now available: “I wrote a book called Lightfinder. It’s exciting, interesting, suspense-filled, dramatic, and cool.” Aaron was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference.

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The Globe and Mail, February 24th: Demographics reporter Joe Friesen wrote about Paul Martin’s aboriginal education initiative project: “In 2010, elementary students at a pair of First Nation reserve schools in Ontario were struggling badly on basic literacy tests. Five years later, after an intensive intervention that taught teachers new methods, raised expectations for students and introduced a mandatory 90 minutes of daily reading and writing instruction, their test scores have improved dramatically, a result its backers hope will encourage governments to adopt its lessons for tackling the gap in indigenous educational achievement.”

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The Globe and Mail, February 20th: Preston Manning wrote about physician-assisted suicide: “The highest duty of the state is to affirm and preserve human life rather than sanction the taking of it. From this perspective, the recent decision of the Supreme Court facilitating physician-assisted suicide is both regrettable and open to challenge. So how should Parliament, provincial legislatures, the medical profession and Canadians respond?” The president of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, he was the 2007 recipient of the Couchiching Award for Public Leadership (,-c.c )

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The Globe and Mail, February 19th: Four former prime ministers — Jean Chretien, Joe Clark, Paul Martin, and John Turner — wrote: “The four of us most certainly know the enormity of the responsibility of keeping Canada safe, something always front of mind for a prime minister. We have come together with 18 other Canadians who have served as Supreme Court of Canada justices, ministers of justice and of public safety, solicitors-general, members of the Security and Intelligence Review Committee and commissioners responsible for overseeing the RCMP and upholding privacy laws.”

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The Canadian Press, February 17th: A veteran Liberal MP has written to Treasury Board President Tony Clement seeking assurances that federal ministers communicate in both official languages on social media networks like Twitter. Stéphane Dion says in his letter that according to the government’s communication policy, institutions must ensure that communications conform to the Official Languages Act. He was the 2011 recipient of the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership (éphane-dion )

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The Globe and Mail, February 13th: Canadian Press reporter Jim Bronskill wrote: “Historian Margaret MacMillan and think-tank adviser Diana Carney are among four people who have quit the board of a charitable foundation that promotes Canada in Britain amid allegations of meddling by the Canadian High Commission.” Margaret was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity” (

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Summer Conference Readings

The Globe and Mail, February 16th: National business correspondent Barrie McKenna wrote: “It’s distressing enough that young Canadians are falling further behind their parents and grandparents, in income and opportunity.”

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Calling All Readers of Couchiching Connects!

Please send information on Newsmakers, Members on the Move, Alumni in the News, and Opinions: Our Members Write ... to Sheila Robertson, Editor, Couchiching Connects,

2016 Summer Conference

The Canada Project

Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World

August 5-7, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, ON

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Couchiching Connects
April 2017
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