Bright Future

Podcast series

In this series, The Conference Board of Canada brings you the connections that make us stronger as individuals, as organizations, and as a country. Hear from senior-level executives from our biggest institutions and leaders from Canada and around the world. For us, leader isn’t a title, it’s a way of acting in the world. You’ll hear leaders who are working to create a bright future.

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Episode 18

Margaret MacMillan on war and remembrance

November 11 is a time of reflection. A time to remember the struggles and sacrifice that have gone into building this country. Margaret MacMillan, bestselling author and professor of history, reminds us in her new book, War: How Conflict Shaped Us, that we are all shaped by war.

They say we can either learn from our history or be doomed to repeat it. And while history never really repeats itself, according to Margaret, it does echo. Understanding history helps us to spot the parallels today—and avoid the pitfalls of the past.

For Margaret, it is a moment to consider how we think about war itself, and the ways in which it has changed us as nations and as individuals.

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Margaret MacMillan

Margaret MacMillan

Professor of history
University of Toronto

Episode 17

John Stackhouse on the potential of Canadian expats

As a journalist in the ‘90s, John Stackhouse spent many years living overseas meeting and interviewing interesting people. Many of them were his fellow Canadians. He discovered that expats are keen to help their home country. When he returned, however, he found people were concerned over the number of people leaving the country—the perceived “brain drain.”

John says that’s the wrong way to think about it. Canada’s diaspora is not a brain drain, it’s brain circulation. As people wear their maple leaves around the world, they’re building networks of insight and goodwill for Canada. But Canada doesn’t seem ready to take advantage of that network. There’s no system for connecting with that network; no way for organizations here to ask their foreign compatriots what’s happening in their local market.

John recognizes the importance of networks and points out some prominent ones that are reshaping our society for the 21st Century. He says the global experience our expats are gaining will be critical in the coming decades. We just need a strategy for Canada’s “11th province” to join the Confederation.

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Focus Area—Canadian Economics

John Stackhouse

John Stackhouse

Senior Vice President
RBC

Episode 16

Dr. Susy Hota on getting through the second wave

How can we keep the second wave from turning into a second lockdown?

Viruses spread when people spend time in close quarters, so lockdowns are good at slowing their transmission. But they come with a cost—a reality we know well, and don’t want to repeat.

Dr. Susy Hota is an infectious disease physician and medical director of infection prevention and control at University Health Network. She joins us this episode to talk about what we’ve learned since the outbreak began. She’s concerned that our pandemic fatigue may be contributing to the disease’s resurgence.

The mental and physical health consequences of the pandemic and efforts to curb it are very real. As is the economic damage. Dr. Hota says we need to remain vigilant and focused on controlling the pandemic to tame the second wave. To avoid a second lockdown, we need to make better use of the tools we already have: distance, hygiene, and masks.

We talk about how the pandemic has taught us what is important, as well as how it exposed areas that need attention. She says that we should focus on our common goal to get through the coming winter: short-term pain for long-term gain.

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Focus Area—Health

Sinead Bovell

Dr. Susy Hota

Infectious Diseases Specialist and Hospital Epidemiologist
University Health Network

Episode 15

Sinead Bovell on the death of learn, work, retire

Technology has been affecting how we make a living since we first started using tools. Never before, though, has technology changed as quickly as it does today. As artificial intelligence becomes more common in our everyday tasks, we can expect even more disruption: No longer will a human be the smartest entity in the room.

This disruption goes beyond just how we work. According to this episode’s guest, the traditional “learn, work, retire” career path is dead.

Futurist, writer, and entrepreneur, Sinead Bovell founded WAYE—Weekly Advice for Young Entrepreneurs—in 2018 to help youth prepare for the digital world they are coming of age in. Already, there is a gap in the skills people have and those organizations need. As technology advances, that gap will only increase. Sinead says the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that our digital infrastructure in not sustainable. We need people with diverse skill sets to tackle our wicked problems, and systems that allow us to continue learning new skills.

She’s brought this up at the UN and to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and has written about it for The Globe and Mail, Vogue, and WIRED. In this episode of Bright Future, she talks to us about how people can prepare for artificial intelligence in their own jobs, the importance of diversity in technology, how governments and schools can be ready for advanced tech, and the most important skill we’ve all been practicing already: adaptability.

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Focus Area—Education & Skills

Sinead Bovell

Sinead Bovell

Futurist, writer, and entrepreneur

Episode 14

Paul Martin on supporting Indigenous youth

About 15 years ago, then-Prime Minister Paul Martin announced the Kelowna Accord. It was an agreement intended to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and it was ground-breaking for modern politics in terms of consultation and collaboration with Indigenous groups.

Mere days after the announcement, however, parliament was dissolved and leadership of Canada’s government changed hands. The accord was enacted, but as a shell of its original vision.

The Right Honourable Paul Martin is still working at it though. In 2008, he founded the Martin Family Initiative to help bridge the gap in standards of living. The Initiative works with Indigenous groups to bring Indigenous knowledge together with evidence-based methods of teaching and learning. He talks with us about the importance of entrepreneurship to Indigenous people, what he has learned from the Initiative, and why it’s important that kids get a good start to life.

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Focus Area—Indigenous & Northern Communities

Paul Martin

The Right Honourable Paul Martin

The Martin Family Initiative

Episode 13

John Manley on getting back to business

Canadian businesses have been scrambling to find ways to stay afloat since the beginning of the pandemic in March. Government programs have helped, but they can’t last forever. We’ve all had to adapt to whatever “normal” was as we progressed through lockdown. As our businesses incrementally reopen, they are tasked with the challenge of being both safe and profitable.

Our guest this episode is well versed in both the business side and the government side. The Honourable John Manley, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, talks to us about getting Canada back to business. He shares his perspective on the response by Canadian governments and businesses, as well as a caution on the deficits the federal government has had to incur. He’s optimistic about the resilience he’s noticed in Canada and Canadians and sees many lessons we can carry with us into the future.

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Focus Area—Canadian Economics

John Manley

The Honourable John Manley, P.C., O.C.

Senior Adviser
Bennett Jones LLP

Episode 12

Paul Bennett on school systems in Canada

It’s back to school season, but many families are uneasy this year.

The suddenness of school closures last March had parents—and schools—scrambling to keep kids engaged and learning. We simply weren’t ready to be that nimble. What have we learned since then?

These are the types of questions that keep this episode’s guest busy. Paul W. Bennett, author, education policy researcher, and founder and director of the Schoolhouse Institute, has been talking about the cracks he’s noticed in our country’s education systems to everyone he can. His upcoming book, The State of The System: A Reality Check on Canada’s Schools, outlines some of his recommendations for reforming the Canadian school system. In this episode, he reflects on what we learned in the early days and how he sees an opportunity to move Canada’s school system closer to communities, teachers, and parents.

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Focus Area—Education & Skills

Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett

Director, Schoolhouse Institute, and Founding Chair, researchED Canada

Episode 11

Greg Fergus on creating opportunity for Black Canadians

This past June, the Parliamentary Black Caucus issued a statement calling on Canadian governments to take five specific steps toward reducing the harms caused by systemic racism.

Greg Fergus, MP for Hull–Aylmer and chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, joins us to talk about what he hopes the statement will achieve. We discuss the importance of having—and understanding—good data to know what is really happening and what communities need help. We talk about the opportunities he sees for Black business and community leaders to improve live for all Canadians, and what’s holding us back.

But it will take work. The five calls in the statement will not fix racism. They’re just a step on the path.

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Focus Area—Inclusion

Greg Fergus

Greg Fergus

MP, Hull–Alymer and
Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus

Episode 10

Hadiya Roderique on systemic racism

As peaceful protesters around the world have taken up the chant of Black Lives Matter, the push to address systemic racism in Canada has opened the eyes of many to some of the hurdles Black people in this country face. The conversations we’re having today are the same ones Black activists were having in the 1970s. The information, the stories, the solutions are all there. Waiting for people to listen.

Our guest this episode wants you to listen. And she wants you to understand and think about your own bias. Dr. Hadiya Roderique, writer, lawyer, and diversity advocate, wants to support actions over symbolism. She’s dedicated herself to creating more inclusive and diverse organizations. She talks to us about how recruiting strategies are only a good start, what people can do to better understand race, and how organizations can become more inclusive.

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Focus Area—Inclusion

Hadiya Roderique

Hadiya Roderique

Writer, lawyer, and diversity advocate

Episode 9

Duncan Bureau on returning to air travel

As we enter the recovery, many people are wondering if they can get back in the air. Airlines are investing in new equipment and developing protocols to try to provide a safe environment. But the global nature of the industry means airlines—and their passengers—all need to do their part to keep everyone safe. When you get into the details, things can get incredibly complicated.

Duncan Bureau, senior vice-president of sales and distribution at Etihad Airways, talks about what the airlines industry is doing to make flying safe and why he’s sure the industry will bounce back.

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Focus Area—Canadian Economics

Duncan Bureau

Duncan Bureau

Senior VP
Global Sales and Distribution
Etihad Airways

Episode 8

Norman Amundson on unemployment and career paths

As the pandemic spread around the world, normal life shut down to shelter people. In its wake, millions were left unemployed. As regions start to relax their restrictions, many people are returning to their jobs or have found new ones. But many are still looking.

This episode’s guest has published articles and books on career development and has been involved in a number of award-winning career development projects. Norman Amundson, UBC professor emeritus, advocates for hope during this emotional roller coaster. He joins us to talk about the importance of finding purpose, of being ready to take advantage of opportunities when they come, and how career advisors can evolve to help in the changing job market.

He also shares his tips for those dealing with a layoff.

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Focus Area—Human Resources

Norman Amundson

Norman Amundson

Professor Emeritus
University of British Columbia

Episode 7

Volker Gerdts on the search for a vaccine

We need a vaccine for COVID-19. There have been many advancements in helping people recover, but the surest way to get back to a place where we can shake hands with strangers again is a vaccine.

And the race is on. Labs around the world have been working hard to understand this virus, develop a vaccine, and get it through the various stages of testing to be sure it is safe.

Our guest this episode is Dr. Volker Gerdts, Director and CEO of VIDO-InterVac. He and his team are on the front line of vaccine development. They’re not only working on a vaccine for this pandemic, but also trying to predict the next one.

We talk about the challenges in developing a vaccine, Canada’s place in solving a global problem, and how VIDO-InterVac is positioning itself to be Canada’s pandemic centre.

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Focus Area—Health

Episode 6

Jennifer Keesmaat on the future of cities

Are our cities a reflection of the people who live in them? Are they built for people? As our economy starts to recover, will our cities? Or are these sprawling urban jungles built for a different time, retrofitted as our needs have changed?

Is now a good time to rethink the city?

Our guest this episode, Jennifer Keesmaat, is passionate about creating places where people flourish. She was Toronto’s chief planner for five years and has been named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by MacLean’s and one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life. Currently, she’s the CEO of The Keesmaat Group, senior-level urbanists working to find solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

She joins us to talk about how our cities will emerge from the pandemic, and how the changes we’re seeing can be important lessons in how we navigate our communities. We talk population density, resiliency, planning, and sudden changes we’ve had to make. What changes should we keep? We also talk about how the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in our cities, especially for racialized and vulnerable communities.

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Focus Area—Innovation & Technology

Jennifer Keesmaat

Jennifer Keesmaat

CEO, The Keesmaat Group;
former chief city planner of Toronto

Episode 5

Hugh Segal on guaranteed income

Millions have been relying on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) these past few months. This has been an extraordinary response to an extraordinary time. But people concerned about fighting poverty are looking to draw lessons from the pandemic for the future. Discussion is growing around the creation of a universal basic income for Canadians.

This episode, the Honourable Hugh Segal, Canadian political strategist, author, commentator, academic, and former senator, joins us to talk about a guaranteed basic income for Canadians. Hugh has touted guaranteed basic income as a way to break families out of poverty for decades.

We talk about experiments with basic income from the past and the lessons he hopes we learn from programs created during the pandemic. Can governments seize this opportunity for leadership and create a new approach to helping the poor in Canada?

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Focus Area—Canadian Economics

Hugh Sesal

Hugh Segal

Canadian political strategist,
author, commentator, academic,
and former senator

Episode 4

Shamira Madhany on immigration

Immigration is vital to Canada’s economic growth and competitiveness. The people we welcome fill the gaps in our labour market, bring valuable skills and experience, and have connections around the world. But they can face an uphill battle to have their credentials or experience recognized in Canada.

This episode, Shamira Madhany, Managing Director, Deputy Executive Director, World Education Services, talks to us about immigration during the pandemic, where new Canadians are working and where they want to be working, the role of immigrants in rebuilding our economy, and provides a path forward to recognizing skills the experiences of new Canadians.

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Focus Area—Immigration

Shamira Madhany

Shamira Madhany

Managing Director, and
Deputy Executive Director
World Education Services

Episode 3

Minister Ranj Pillai on Yukon’s response and recovery from COVID-19

The territories face special challenges when it comes to dealing with an outbreak. Many communities are remote or isolated, and emergency health care is often far away. On this episode of Bright Future, The Honourable Ranj Pillai, Deputy Premier of Yukon, shares his personal experience with COVID-19 and how it helped shape the territory’s response. He talks about the territory’s labour shortage before and during the pandemic, tourism, the economic outlook for the region, and Northern entrepreneurship.

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Focus Area—Indigenous & Northern Communities

Ranj Pillai

The Honourable Ranj Pillai

Deputy Premier of Yukon

Episode 2

André Picard on emerging from lockdown

Health columnist André Picard joins us to talk about what we can expect as we move to the next phase of the COVID-19 crisis: the slow reopening. What lessons have we learned so far? And will we remember them? How will we bring social distancing to the workplace? And what are the “bright spots” in this—the changes that are happening that have been a long time coming.

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Focus Area—Health

André Picard

André Picard

Health columnist
The Globe and Mail

Episode 1

Stéphane Hamel on contact tracing and data privacy

Stéphane Hamel is a leader in the digital marketing, analytics, and privacy world. He has been working in it and speaking about it for over 20 years. In this episode, he talks to us about privacy, consent, trust, and what it will take for Canada to get ahead of COVID-19.

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Focus Area—Innovation & Technology

Stéphane Hamel

Stéphane Hamel

CEO & Founder
Immeria Consulting Services Inc.


All episodes

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