2014 Judges

Rob Baker"Rob Baker"

Rob Baker is a founding member of the famous Canadian rock band Tragically Hip, which was formed in 1983 at a residence at Queen's University. Since their formation in 1983, they have released 13 studio albums, two live albums, 1 EP, and 56 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 in Canada. They have received numerous Canadian Music awards, including the Juno Awards.

Rob formed another band called Stripper's Union in collaboration with Craig Northey of the Odds and released their first album in 2004. As part of this band, Rob has collaborated with many artists and continues to explore new creative heights.

Rob with other members of the Hip are known for their charity arising from their individual and collective profits from shows and concerts. Some of the prestigious honours and awards the band has received include: the Canada Hall of Fame, 2002; Canadian Music Hall of Fame 2005; fellowship at Royal Conservatory of Music in 2006; and the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2008.

The Tragically Hip even have a street named after them in downtown Kingston.


Simona Chiose "Simona Choise"

Simona Chiose is Education Editor at The Globe and Mail where she co-ordinates education coverage across the media company's multiple platforms and works with students across Canada through The Globe and Mail Student Advisory Council. Prior to this role, Simona was an arts editor at The Globe and graduate student at the University of Toronto from where she has an MA in political science and is completing a PhD that focuses on immigration policy-making.

She has worked as a freelance journalist and television producer, university instructor, served on university administrative boards and student organizations and worked as an editor and television producer. She is inspired by ideas for change and innovation and likes to connect ideas across disciplines.


Emily Chung"Emily Chung"

Emily Chung is an award-winning science and technology journalist for CBCNews.ca and an occasional producer for CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks. She has a PhD in chemistry from the University of British Columbia, and is a member of the board of directors for the Canadian Science Writers' Association. 



Peter Dyakowski"Peter Dyakowski"

Vancouver-born Peter Dyakowski was the first Canadian-born player to sign a football scholarship with Louisiana State University. He played four years as right tackle with the LSU Tigers, and was a member of the Tigers National Championship team.

In 2006, Peter was drafted by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and has been a fixture on the Cats’ offensive line since his rookie season in 2007. He was part of the Eastern Division champion team that played in last year’s Grey Cup final.

Peter balances his athleticism with his Mensa qualified intelligence. He earned the Canada’s Smartest Person title after participating in the groundbreaking CBC-TV special in 2012.


Terry Fallis"Terry Fallis"

Terry Fallis is the author of The Best Laid Plans, winner of the 2008 Leacock Medal for Humour, and the 2011 CBC Canada Reads crown as the "essential Canadian novel of the decade." A six-part television miniseries based on the novel aired on CBC in early 2014. The sequel, The High Road, published in 2010, was a finalist for the 2011 Leacock Medal.

His third novel, Up and Down, hit bookstores in September 2012, debuted on the Globe and Mail bestsellers list, was a finalist for the 2013 Leacock Medal, and won the 2013 Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award. The Canadian Booksellers Association named Terry Fallis the winner of the 2013 Libris Award as Author of the Year. His fourth novel, No Relation, is available in May 2014.

Terry earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McMaster University and then spent several years working in federal and Ontario politics. In 1995, he co-founded Thornley Fallis, a communications and digital agency with offices in Toronto and Ottawa.


Annette Hamm"Annette Hamm"

Annette Hamm has been part of the CHCH News team since 1986. She moved to the anchor desk on Morning Live in 2005 after several years as CHCH's crime reporter. She now co-hosts Morning Live, and News Now Midday. Outside of work, Annette is a dedicated member of the Hamilton YWCA; has sat on the Board of Directors for Charlton Hall Child and Family Services and volunteers with the Hamilton Burlington SPCA. She was recently made a Paul Harris Fellow.


Harvey P. Weingarten"Harvey P Weingarten"

Dr. Harvey P. Weingarten is president and CEO of The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) – an agency of the Ontario government that conducts research and provides policy advice to government to improve the accessibility, quality and accountability of colleges and universities. HEQCO is the only organization of its type in Canada. Since joining HEQCO in 2010, Harvey has expanded the agency's advisory role and influence with government and has orchestrated a larger public information mandate for HEQCO.

Prior to HEQCO, Harvey was president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary for nine years. From 1996 to 2001, he was provost at McMaster University. During a 21-year career at McMaster he also served as dean of science, professor of psychology, department chair, and a teacher and mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students. He received his B.Sc. from McGill University, and his MS, M.Phil. and PhD from Yale University. He has served on many boards and councils including the Science, Technology and Innovation Council of Canada; Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada; Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network; and Shad Valley.

Masters of Ceremonies

Master of Ceremonies - Matt Baram, co-artistic director "Matt Baram"

Matt is a veteran of the legendary Second City Comedy Theatre in Toronto. He wrote and performed in six hit revues. Matt was a lead on Punched Up, (The Comedy Network) and CBC's The Next Comedy Legend. Other TV credits include appearances on Living in Your Car (Showcase), The Murdoch Mysteries (Bravo), The Border (CBC), The Kink In My Hair (Global), The Jon Dore Show (Comedy Network), Veritas (ABC), Train 48 (Global), The Jane Show (Global), Ace Lightning (BBC), Wingin' It (The Family Channel), Queer As Folk (Showtime), The Newsroom (CBC), The Listener (Global), Covert Affairs (USA), She's the Mayor (Vision), Unnatural History (Cartoon Network), Connor Undercover (Family), Really Me (Family), Howie Do It (NBC), Little Mosque On The Prairie (CBC), Degrassi The Next Generation (Nickelodeon) The Ron James Show and Canada's Smartest Person(CBC). He directed The Casting Room Web Series (CCA Winner) and Matt has won a Canadian Comedy Award in the category of Best Male Improvisor. He is a founding member and Co-Artistic Producer of The National Theatre of the World. Matt is currently on the CityTV sitcom Seed.

Master of Ceremonies - Naomi Snieckus"Naomi Sneickus"

An actor/writer/improviser/voice-over artist/director/ teacher, Naomi is a regular on CBC's hit comedy, Mr. D (Canadian Comedy Award-nominated). She is an alumnus of The Second City Toronto where she wrote/performed in five hit shows. Other theatre credits include: The Ginkgo Tree (Arts Club), Guide to Mourning (Belfry Theatre), and Conservatives in Love (Pea Green Theatre). She directed Chelsea P. Menders in Naughty Little Children and the Touring Co. at Second City. TV and film credits include Da Kink in My Hair, Degrassi, Train 48, Regenesis, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Ron James Show, Being Erica, Wingin' It, She's the Mayor and The Jon Dore Show. You may have heard Naomi's voice on CBC Radio's Canadia or as Aunt Turtle on the cartoon Franklin the Turtle. She appeared in Trailer Park Boys TV show: Drunk and On Drugs Happy Fun Time Hour, Saw 7 3D and on CBC's Canada's Smartest Person. She's a co-creator of The Casting Room Web Series (CCA winner) and Naomi has won a Canadian Comedy Award in the category of Best Female Improvisor. She is a founding member and Co-Artistic Producer of The National Theatre of the World.


Joining Naomi and Matt will be Chris Gibbs and Christy Bruce from the National Theatre of the World. The four will perform and offer some helpful techniques to help people improve their communication skills. 


Chris Gibbs"Chris Gibbs"

Before moving to Canada in 2002, British-born comedian Chris Gibbs toured the globe with Hoopal, a physical comedy duo born on the streets of London.

Now Chris is best known for the ridiculously well-reviewed, award-winning, sell-out one-man comedy shows (including Gibberish, The Power of Ignorance, Antoine Feval and Like Father, Like Son? Sorry) with which he regularly tours Canada. In 2009 Antoine Feval was invited to perform in the Just For Laughs Festival. His TV and film credits include the lead role in the Canadian Indie romantic comedy Run Robot Run, regular guest spots on the NBC comedy Howie Do It, CBC's Winnipeg Comedy Festival, as well as some British TV shows even British people have never heard of.

He's also the co-author of the spoof self-help book The Power of Ignorance: 14 Steps To Using Your Ignorance. www.chrisgibbs.ca