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Celebrating a century of commerce

Digital storytelling campaign showcases the breadth and depth of the program’s 100-year legacy

Commerce 100
Smith School of Business at Queen’s University is celebrating a century of innovation with the arrival of Com'23, the 100th commerce class. (University Communications) 

Smith School of Business at Queen’s University is celebrating a century of innovation with the arrival of the 100th commerce class (Com’23) at Goodes Hall.

Queen’s University launched the first undergraduate business degree in Canada in 1919 and as the program grew in popularity, the business school that is now Smith was established.

To mark the milestone, a digital storytelling campaign has been launched to showcase the breadth and depth of the program’s 100-year legacy. A new interactive website – smithqueens.com/100 – invites the community to explore some of the many highlights, profiles, memories, and stories from the last 100 years. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to share their experiences and memories of commerce via an online form on the site. 

“I have had the pleasure of meeting alumni from many decades of the Commerce program – some as far back as the 1930s – and the one thing that has remained constant over the past 100 years is the quality of the Queen’s experience,” says David Saunders, Dean, Smith School of Business. “This outstanding experience not only fosters talented students, but creates alumni who remain engaged with the program long after they have graduated.”

The 100th commerce class reflects the growth and diversity of the business world. There are 495 students in the Class of 2023, 52 per cent are women. They come not just from all over Canada but from around the world, too. Seventeen per cent of the 100th commerce class is international, with citizenship from countries such as Bulgaria, Ireland, India, Peru, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria and China.

This, of course, was all far off in 1919. The first graduating class of 1921 comprised just two students. The next year seven students graduated, including the first woman to earn an undergraduate business degree, Beatrice Eakins. The curriculum focused heavily on economics and math in the early days and over the years, academics have remained central to the student experience.

Smith Commerce is renowned for its excellence and leadership in business education, having pioneered team-based and experiential learning. Students attain a deep understanding of business strategies and concepts, while at the same time fostering personal capacity in leadership, teamwork, cultural intelligence, resilience, communication, and presentation.

A number of events to celebrate the 100th anniversary are being planned and will be announced soon.

Discover the rich history and legacy of the Commerce program, and share your memories, at smithqueens.com/100.

How non-profits can use business as a force for good

THE CONVERSATION: New research suggests that non-profits tempted by the social enterprise model do not necessarily lose sight of their social mission in favour of profits. In fact, the opposite is true.

Do social enterprises come to view profit as more important than their original mission? New research suggests they don’t, and the cause remains a key component of their success. (Kat Yukawa/Unsplash)

Can a non-profit organization pursue both social gains and business revenue? Or is it as futile as mixing water and oil and hoping that the oil — commercial interests — won’t rise to the top?

Think about the YMCA of Canada. The Y is one of Canada’s oldest and largest charities, serving more than 2.25 million people each year from 1,700 program locations.

It offers a wide range of social programs, from youth leadership development and immigrant services to skills development workshops. It also operates what is essentially a health club business that is somewhat more distantly tied to its mission, yet provides a critical source of revenue. The Y seems to be able to carry out its model of social enterprise just fine.

But for every YMCA, there are many more non-profits committed to advancing a social cause that struggle with finding revenue sources to keep themselves afloat. It’s no surprise; these two approaches often require very different mindsets, and trying to pursue both requires a cultural shift for traditional non-profit organizations.

Traditionally, non-profit organizations that wanted to increase their revenues tended to create commercial activities that were unrelated to their core social activities. Think about the annual cupcake sale organized by your local soup kitchen, or the café created within your local history museum. Those initiatives generate a welcome surplus of revenues, but they remain somewhat unconnected to the core social mission of the organization.

Pursuing profit where it doesn’t belong?

Many say the concept of social enterprise represents the incursion of neoliberal thinking — putting the market above all else — into a sphere where it doesn’t belong.

Some scholars have predicted that ultimately, the “enterprise” would come to dominate the “social” as the pursuit of funds becomes the goal rather than the connection to a social purpose.

But are non-profits really selling their souls to the market? Maybe not. This argument overlooks the ways in which organizations and their leaders assimilate and adapt new ideas.

Our research suggests that non-profits tempted by the social enterprise model do not necessarily lose sight of their social mission. In fact, we observed the opposite trend: non-profit organizations interested in developing commercial activities learned, over time, how to integrate them more deeply with their social goals.

We came to this conclusion after analyzing 14 years of grant applications submitted to Enterprising NonProfits, then a leading Canadian funder that has since shut down, by non-profit organizations that sought to commercialize some of their services to create earned revenue.

With this long-term perspective, we could identify how non-profits in our study described their operating models and whether those models changed over time as the concept of social enterprise emerged and became more prevalent in society at large.

What we found is that the power of commerce did not win out as the years went by.

Research shows that profits did not win out over the causes of social enterprises. (Photo by Perry Grone/Unsplash)

Yes, in the early 2000s, when the concept of social enterprise was still new, many non-profits tended to emphasize the revenue-generation aspect of their new venture over the social mission, and to keep the two rather disconnected.

This was particularly true among non-profits in the social welfare and community benefit space. Perhaps these non-profits wanted to differentiate themselves from others in the field or just could not envision how to realize their social mission while developing commercial activities.

But over time, this emphasis on pure revenue-generation diminished. In the education and health fields, it never even dominated in the first place.

Enhanced their social missions

Instead, hybrid models sprang up that integrated commercial and social objectives in multiple ways. Some non-profits offered specialized products or services to their target beneficiaries and generated revenue that way. Others provided employment opportunities to their target disadvantaged populations and thus enhanced their social mission.

In short, non-profits became better at managing the tensions inherent in mixing revenue generation with social mission, and more amenable to exploring different options for doing so.

They learned what worked and didn’t work from their peers, as successful examples of hybrid social enterprises that integrated a social mission into a commercial business project became more visible in the environment.

In the process, non-profit organizations realized that injecting some earned revenue into their activities could not only provide some welcome relief to their bottom line, but also had the potential to enhance and deepen their social mission.


Jean-Baptiste Litrico is Associate Professor of Strategy and Organization at Smith School of Business, Queen's University, and Marya Besharov, is Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Cornell University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Getting to know the Class of 2023

This group of incoming students come from across Canada and around the world.

[Queen's students take part in  orientation]
Incoming first-year students share a laugh during the Queen's Welcomes U event on Saturday, Aug. 31. (Photo by Bernard Clark / Queen's University)

The undergraduate Class of 2023 is now on campus, and they are already adding vibrancy and diversity to Queen’s. In this new class, there are more than 4,600 students from all 10 provinces and three territories in Canada as well as students from 49 countries around the world. Queen’s and Kingston continue to be a destination of choice for international students who this year will make up more than 14% of incoming undergraduates.

The overall average of the incoming class is 89.5 per cent and students are entering a wide range of programs; two-thirds are in the Faculty of Arts and Science; 17 per cent are in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; 10 per cent of students are in the Smith School of Business and five per cent in the Faculty of Health Sciences, which is welcoming its first on-campus cohort to the Bachelor of Health Sciences program.

Additionally, more than 100 Arts and Science students will be spending their first year at the Bader International Study Centre in East Sussex, England. This group will be joining their classmates in Kingston next September to complete the remainder of their studies.

Start-ups awarded seed funding in Kingston’s biggest pitch competition

Seven teams win big in annual Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre's summer pitch competition.

  • Backr, the team named by judges to take home the grand prize of $30,000, delivering their winning pitch.
    Backr, the team named by judges to take home the grand prize of $30,000, deliver their winning pitch.
  • Nina Tangri, Member of Provincial Parliament and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade (Economic Development), sharing remarks during the opening of the competition.
    Nina Tangri, Member of Provincial Parliament and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade (Economic Development), shares remarks during the opening of the competition.
  • Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson makes opening remarks at the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.
    Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson makes opening remarks at the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.
  • Fourteen teams pitched their ventures to a panel of judges over the course of the competition.
    Fourteen teams pitched their ventures to a panel of judges over the course of the competition at Mitchell Hall.
  • Lifted took home $10,000 after winning over the audience with their pitch. They were voted crowd favourite and were recognized with the Wisdom of the Market Award.
    Lifted took home $10,000 after winning over the audience with their pitch. They were voted crowd favourite and were recognized with the Wisdom of the Market Award.
  • Following each pitch, the panel of judges asked questions of the competitors to further explore each team's proposal.
    Following each pitch, the panel of judges asked questions of the competitors to further explore each team's proposal.
  • Cromble was among the seven winning teams that competed in front of the large audience at Mitchell Hall, the new facility that houses the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre.
    Cromble was among the seven winning teams that competed in front of the large audience at Mitchell Hall, the new facility that houses the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre.

After weeks of preparation, teams of emerging entrepreneurs stood before a panel of esteemed judges at the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition and made their case as to why their start-up businesses are ready to take the next big step.

Fourteen teams, all but one of which was comprised of students from Queen’s University, took part in the competition, each vying for a piece of $100,000 of total seed funding available to be won. The annual contest is the largest of its kind in Kingston, and past Queen’s winners have included ClimaCube (2018) and SpectraPlasmonics – who have gone on to compete internationally.

“I want to congratulate this year’s teams on their outstanding pitches, and commend their determination and drive to become Kingston’s next generation of innovators,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). “We know that access to seed capital is so important for fledgling companies, and that a vote of confidence from our judging panel can go a long way toward growing opportunities. We continue to be excited and proud to host this thrilling competition every summer.”

Teams had only a few minutes to make their business’ case for support, after which the judges asked a series of questions of each group about anything from product development to corporate strategy and financing. Sitting on the judging panel this year were Raj Melville, Executive Director of the Deshpande Foundation; Benjamin Barrows, Founder and CEO of technology and data firm Cabot 7; Allison Turner, co-founder and Director of Product Development at PnuVax; David Lloyd, CEO of Post Beyond; and Shelby Yee, CEO of RockMass Technologies, the grand-prize winning company for the 2016 Summer Pitch Competition.

“The Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition has made tremendous progress over the years both in the quality and breadth of solutions pitched as well as the general interest from a worldwide audience, thanks in large part to the efforts of the DDQIC Staff,” says Melville. “The teams have worked really hard and it showed in the polished presentations that highlighted key business opportunities and issues facing them. We congratulate the teams and look forward to seeing them succeed and grow.”

Following the judges’ deliberations, seven teams walked away with seed funding, with Backr securing the largest sum — $30,000 — to support their online tool to help online content creators better engage their fans.

“We are thankful to the DDQIC for supporting entrepreneurship in the Queen's and Kingston community. It was our privilege to pitch alongside so many terrific teams,” says Duncan Cameron-Steinke, on behalf of the Backr team. “For our company, we can now apply the funds towards accelerating our product development and arrive sooner to market. This is just the beginning for us and we are thankful to the judges who believed in our team and in our vision.”

Cameron-Steinke, a recent graduate of engineering physics, is one of 45 Queen’s students who competed on teams this year, from across multiple disciplines, including Business, Engineering and Applied Science, Arts and Science, and Graduate Studies. Other competitors included entrepreneurs from the Kingston region and from the Royal Military College of Canada.

The competition was held in the atrium of Queen’s University’s recently-opened Mitchell Hall — the new home of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. Queen’s Interim Provost and Vice-Principal Tom Harris, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson and MPP Nina Tangri, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade (Economic Development), delivered remarks to open the day’s events.

“Businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy,” says MPP Tangri to the competing teams in her opening remarks. “All of you have come here today with innovation, and whether your venture aims to impact your local community, address social issues, support other business and people, or make advancements in science and technology, you should all be proud of the work you have done to be here today.”

To learn more about the competition, visit the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition website.

2019 DDQIC Summer Pitch Competition Results:

Backr - $30,000
Backr created a tool that promotes fan engagement while creating revenue for online creators. The group works alongside creators' existing social platforms and reward fans for every act of engagement, motivating them to do more.

HeroHub - $15,000
HeroHub is an online platform that creates a greater social impact by connecting local charities and non-profits to individuals or businesses seeking volunteer opportunities, charity events, and to donate new or gently-used items.

Cromble - $15,000
Cromble works to divert 100 per cent of wasted spent grain — a byproduct of beer brewing — and use it in creating a wide range of products, including health foods.

Red Gold of Afghanistan - $10,000
This team is helping female farmers in Afghanistan achieve financial independence by building their capacity in saffron cultivation and connecting them to global markets.

Research Stream - $5,000
Research Stream is a digital platform that connects researchers and participants for human subject research.

Big Spoon Lil’ Spoon (BSLS) - $5,000
BSLS is a social venture that provides healthy living programs and life skills workshops to people with disabilities and their siblings. BSLS’s goal is to help teach participants of all ages learn to be self-sufficient and lead a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Lifted - $10,000 (Wisdom of the Market Award)
This team, selected as a winner by audience vote, created a bra company that strives to redesign the lingerie industry to be more diverse and inclusive.

Celebrating success at Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics

From an initial meeting at an analytics conference in Banff to a full-time position at the Data Science and Analytics Lab at Scotiabank, Hootan Kamran’s perseverance and adaptability have served him well.

[Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics]
Hootan Kamran, left, and Mikhail Nediak, centre, of Smith School of Business accept a cheque for renewed funding for the Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics.

At the Canadian Operational Research Society (CORS) conference in 2016, Kamran first met his future supervisor, Smith School of Business associate professor Mikhail Nediak. Several months later, Kamran was offered an industrial postdoctoral fellowship through MITACS with Smith and Scotiabank. It let him gain work experience as a data scientist while advancing analytics research.

As one of 15 graduate-level students collaborating with a team of industry experts and faculty at Smith’s Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics, Kamran worked on a series of applied research projects with a goal to reshape the customer experience.

Founded in 2016 through a partnership between Scotiabank and Smith, the Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics (SCCA) brings together interdisciplinary teams of professors, graduate, students and analytics practitioners to collaborate on research, create new knowledge, and lead the conversation about the future of big data and its applications for organizations looking to better serve their customers.

Kamran credits the centre with encouraging the pursuit of robust scholarship combined with practical applications in the world of data analytics.

“My postdoctoral fellowship with the SCCA allowed me to direct my academic goals toward real industry experience,” he says.

One such experience came after Kamran was transferred from Scotiabank’s Data Science and Analytics (DSA) Lab to the international banking unit as the main investigator tasked with solving a customer lifetime value (CLV) problem for one of Scotiabank’s clients in Chile. After finishing the job in five months, clients in neighbouring Peru expressed interest in the same project, and the experienced team was able to deliver results after only two months.

“The Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics plays a crucial role in encouraging innovation across industries,” says David Saunders, Dean of Smith School of Business. “As a global leader in teaching the management of analytics, the centre is a great opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate with industry leaders to develop research and solutions to industry problems.”

After his experience with international banking, Kamran moved back to DSA, where he began working on a project to implement a complex neural network model for prediction tasks in capital markets. In June, after a year of full-time involvement, Kamran accepted a permanent position with the lab.

Established with an initial gift of $2.2 million from Scotiabank, the SCCA has seen a number of successes since its start, including research advances in the areas of pricing, revenue management, loyalty programs, adaptable database management systems, analytics and decision making, and ethics and AI. The centre also helps Scotiabank integrate recent research advances and best practices in CLV into its operations.

“This partnership gives our faculty and students direct hands-on access to the most relevant business context and ultimately increases the impact of our research,” said Professor Nediak, who is also SCCA’s associate director.

In July, Scotiabank reaffirmed its commitment to the centre’s mission and success with $2 million in additional funding, supporting the centre through to 2025.

Scotiabank also provided an anonymized dataset from its SCENE program for use in classes and competitions, including for Smith’s Master of Management Analytics program and the annual Queen’s International Innovation Challenge. The dataset gives students the chance to find deeper insights into customer behaviour while helping Scotiabank determine the best products and services to offer.

“There is tremendous demand from organizations to hire data-savvy employees who can find the opportunity in the numbers and work in teams to solve problems,” says Yuri Levin, the centre’s executive director and Smith Chair of Analytics at Smith School of Business. “Access to current, real-company data gives Smith students a competitive edge.”

Going beyond the classroom, the centre’s popular quarterly community seminars, as well as ongoing public talks and industry conferences, foster a thriving analytics community in both Kingston and Toronto.

SCCA builds on Smith’s research leadership in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Faculty leverage this thought leadership in Smith’s custom executive education programs and develop case studies for use in executive education, MBA, and other graduate-level programs.

This article was first published on the Smith School of Business website.

LIVES LIVED: Kristian Palda

From fleeing communism to winning Queen’s University’s highest award for research excellence, Smith School of Business Professor Emeritus Kristian Palda (Com’56), lived a storied life.

 Professor Emeritus Kristian Palda

A revered professor and prolific researcher, Palda passed away peacefully at home in Kingston on July 26, surrounded by family. He was 91. 

Born in Prague in 1928, Palda escaped communist Czechoslovakia in 1949. He came to Canada, eventually enrolled at Queen’s University and earned a commerce degree.

After completing his MBA and PhD at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Palda spent the 1960s writing three books and many academic articles on marketing and economics. His 1963 thesis, The Measurement of Cumulative Effects of Advertising Effects, was an oft-cited work and established the field of “Lydiametrics.”

In 1970, Palda joined the faculty at Smith. He soon became a pioneer in the emerging field of public choice. His work on the relationship between election advertising and political success, published in the Journal of Law and Economics in 1975, was especially important. 

Eventually his interest turned to the link between R&D and economic performance. A critical essay he wrote for the Fraser Institute in 1979, called The Science Council’s Weakest Link, launched a Canada-wide debate on how involved government should be in managing commercial research. Palda’s work in this area, as well as his stature as one of the top researchers in empirical marketing, earned him the Queen’s University Prize for Excellence in Research in 1987.

Retired Smith Associate Professor Bohumir Pazderka remembers Palda as a “true academic – always on the lookout for a new subject to explore, a new research project to initiate, and figuring out how to generate a new publication.”

Like Palda, Pazderka grew up in Czechoslovakia. And, like Palda, he escaped in 1968. When Pazderka came to Smith as a graduate student, Palda was his supervisor. 

“I always admired his excellent grasp of the English language and his exquisite writing style,” Pazderka said.

Palda spoke four languages fluently and maintained a high profile abroad with research stays at Louvain, Aix-en-Provence, Nice, Strasbourg, Poitiers, Clermont-Ferrand and the Center for Study of Public Choice at Virginia Tech. 

As a young man in Czechoslovakia, Palda was persecuted by the communists and expelled from law school. After the fall of communism in 1989, Charles University in Prague awarded him an honorary doctorate in law. Palda later spent a year in Prague advising the government on the transition from a centrally-planned to a market economy. He also participated at conferences and meetings of educators and administrators of newly established business schools and shared his expertise on the contribution of business education to the functioning of the economy.

Palda retired from Smith and Queen’s in 1995 but continued with his research for many years after. Throughout his life and even into his final year, he shared his incredible intelligence and genteel manner with those who surrounded him.

The Smith and Queen’s communities will remember him as a groundbreaking researcher, scholar and teacher who challenged the status quo and inspired colleagues and students to do the same.

This Lives Lived column was first published by Smith School of Business.

Researchers and policymakers to discuss ‘inclusive prosperity’

School of Policy Studies to host annual Queen’s International Institute on Social Policy.

2019 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy icons
The 2019 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy runs Aug. 20-21.

Most economies have recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008, or at least that’s what traditional indicators — like growth in gross domestic product (GDP) — would have us believe. That said, some experts say that in many advanced economies, income levels and growth have become increasingly uneven, regional inequities have widened, labour’s share of income has declined, and wealth has become highly concentrated within a small fraction of society.

From Aug. 20-21, the annual Queen’s International Institute on Social Policy (QIISP) will bring together senior policymakers and leading researchers to discuss how the rules of the market and the design of public policies can work better for everyone.

“The starting point for QIISP 2019 is that the benefits of economic prosperity and innovation have not been equally distributed in recent decades," says Keith Banting, Professor Emeritus, Stauffer Dunning Fellow, and conference co-organizer. “Moreover, this trend may well be amplified in the years to come as new technologies alter the nature of work.”

Titled Inclusive Prosperity: Recoupling Growth, Equity, and Social Integration, the gathering will see participants analyze how and why understandings of economic growth have become decoupled from broad-based societal benefits. 

The two-day agenda will feature moderated discussions on trends in growth, equity, and opportunity; inclusive innovation; work and wages; social protection, immigration and social integration. The conference will close with a discussion of Canadians’ attitudes to emerging economic and social trends.

“Although the high levels of inequality and social upheaval reshaping the political landscape in the U.S., U.K., and parts of Europe are more muted in Canada, the underlying factors exist here as well,” says Margaret Biggs, Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy and conference co-organizer. “There are risks of deepening inequalities and fissures in the fabric of Canadian life.”

Speakers include experts from international organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and international researchers from Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, and the U.K.-based Resolution Foundation. Canadian experts from leading universities and research institutes will join them. In addition, the program will feature commentary from columnists from leading newspapers.”

“The Queen’s summer institute has become Canada’s premiere conference on social policy, “says Naomi Alboim, Distinguished Fellow at the Queen’s School of Policy Studies and conference co-organizer. “It is unique in the way it bridges research and policy, has an international comparative perspective, and involves senior policy-makers from all levels of government.”

Established in 1995, the QIISP is organized by the Queen’s School of Policy Studies with support from the governments of Canada and Ontario, the Region of Peel, and the City of Toronto. For more information, or to register, visit the QIISP website.

Provost provides update on Smith School of Business deanship

Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris provided an update regarding the deanship of the Smith School of Business on Friday, Aug. 9.

As previously announced, David Saunders’ term as dean ends on June 30, 2020. Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane has asked the Principal’s Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Smith School of Business to complete an assessment of the current state and future prospects of the school.  At the conclusion of this assessment, the committee will make a recommendation to Principal Deane as to whether or not Dean Saunders should be considered for renewal, or if a full search for a new dean should be undertaken.

Feedback from the Queen’s community will be a significant factor in the committee’s assessment. Details on how to provide input will be shared shortly.

As the mandate of the Principal’s Advisory Committee for the Smith School of Business has been modified, the committee membership may alter slightly. Updates to the membership will be posted on the Office of the Provost website.

The Smith and Queen’s community will remain informed as this process progresses.

Queen’s School of Policy Studies welcoming new expertise

Former Senator Hugh Segal appointed Chair of the External Advisory Board and senior public servant William Bromm as the Executive-in-Residence.

The Queen’s University School of Policy Studies recently announced Hugh Segal has been appointed Chair of the School of Policy Studies External Advisory Board and the Donald Matthews Faculty Fellow in Global Public Policy.

In a second announcement, the School of Policy Studies announced William Bromm as the Executive-in-Residence, effective until September 2020.

Hugh Segal

Segal, the fifth head of Massey College at the University of Toronto, where he is a Senior Fellow, is a former chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism. He has also served as Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Associate Cabinet Secretary for Federal-Provincial Relations in Ontario under Premier Bill Davis, and as president of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. He was awarded an honorary degree at Queen’s University in 2018.

“The School of Policy Studies is very pleased to welcome the Honourable Hugh Segal back to Queen’s,” says Warren Mabee, Associate Dean and Director (Policy Studies). “He brings expertise in all aspects of policy development and analysis to the school and will be a tremendous resource for our students and faculty as the school evolves over the next few years. We are delighted that Mr. Segal is joining us and look forward to working closely with him to implement an exciting new agenda within the school.”

Segal’s public policy focus for many years has been reforming income security in Canada with a basic income guarantee. He has written seven books on public policy and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa and the Royal Military College. He is an Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy, and, most recently, served as Canada's Special Envoy. Segal was a member of the Eminent Persons Group dealing with human rights and rule of law in Commonwealth countries and recently wrote the proposal published by Ontario for a pilot project on a basic income.

William Bromm

He is also Senior Advisor at the law firm of Aird and Berlis, LLP.

The School of Policy Studies also welcomes Bromm to his new role of Executive-in-Residence. Currently serving as the Senior Director and General Counsel at the Office of the Secretary of the Cabinet for the Government of Ontario, Bromm brings a wealth of knowledge of government operations and the interactions between the executive and legislative branches of government to Queen’s.

“He will be a tremendous asset to the university, the School of Policy Studies, and, most importantly, our students,” says Dr. Mabee. “We look forward to working closely with Mr. Bromm in his new role here at the university and are grateful for the opportunity that his presence brings to research and teaching at Queen’s.”

For more information, visit the School of Policy Studies website.

Sustainable finance: Canada risks being left behind in low-carbon economy

Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of investment opportunities in climate-smart infrastructure, emissions-reducing technology and updated electricity grids. (Photo by Zbynek Burival/Unsplash)

Earlier this spring, the most in-depth analysis to date on Canada’s changing climate provided clear evidence that Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average. As we increasingly experience the physical impacts (flooding, extreme weather, forest fires), we will experience the financial impacts as well in the form of both increasing market risks and unprecedented investment opportunities.

For the financial sector, this is a pivotal moment where it can realign its structures to ensure global capital flows toward solutions that will protect Canada’s economy and our prosperity, more broadly. However, Canada’s financial community has yet to fully grasp the numerous challenges and opportunities that climate change presents for us in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

On June 14, an independent panel of experts released recommendations on what Canada’s financial system needs to do to support this transition. The key message: we must empower our financial sector to design a made-in-Canada sustainable finance system so that Canadian firms can compete successfully among their global peers over the long term.

In its simplest definition, sustainable finance means aligning all of our financial systems and services to promote long-term environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. That includes channelling investments toward climate solutions and managing climate-related financial risks.

Canada has the talent, resources and institutional muscle to define sustainable finance for our economy. We need to grow and harness that capacity now, if we want to captain our own ship through one of the most significant global economic transitions in history.

Much to lose, but more to gain

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, a 2C global warming scenario will trigger global financial losses of roughly US$4.2 trillion. With 6C of warming, those losses balloon to $13.8 trillion. That represents about 10 per cent of the global assets currently under management.

Losses at this scale will have wide-reaching implications for investors and the asset-management industry. Everyday people who are depending on investment income for their retirement will find themselves in dire straits. That includes every Canadian counting on the Canada Pension Plan.

On the flip side, there is tremendous value — some $26 trillion worth — to be gained by shifting economies to avoid worst-case climate scenarios. This represents massive and economy-wide investments in climate-smart infrastructure, emissions-reducing technology, updated electricity grids, to name just a few examples. Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of these opportunities.

The question for Canada is: how do we attract global investment while, at the same time, protecting Canadian assets, investors and firms from risk?

In essence, this is what sustainable finance is about — harnessing our financial systems to help accelerate the activities, decisions and structures that will put Canadian industries and our economy ahead of the curve without ignoring the environment.

[Wind turbines]
Climate change is expected to trigger global financial losses in the trillions, but there are also opportunities for investment. (Photo by Karsten Wuerth/Unspalsh)

We can’t afford to fall behind

Other global players are already acting. The European Commission has spent the past two years mobilizing expertise to build a financial system that supports sustainable growth. It has made significant progress in establishing disclosure rules for climate-related financial risk and creating unified definitions (a taxonomy) on what can be considered environmentally sustainable economic activity.

For example, this includes defining the labels and criteria for green financial products, which will, among other things, significantly shape the direction of the rapidly expanding green bond market.

The problem is these rules and definitions are being pioneered elsewhere and are unlikely to benefit Canada. They may even penalize us, because they are designed for economies significantly different from our own.

For example, there is a current gap, and huge opportunity, to pioneer financial mechanisms and incentives could be created to expedite the sustainable transition of higher-emitting sectors like oil and gas and agriculture.

This requires our leadership.

If we allow others to direct the innovations in sustainable finance, we will find ourselves without the financial tools and structures that Canada’s resource-rich economy needs to determine its own path through a global transition.

The expert panel’s report is our wake-up call. It is time to catch up and get ourselves to the table. Our financial sector — and the broader ecosystem including our accountants, lawyers and actuaries — needs to start answering some big questions.

What does meaningful, responsible and consistent disclosure look like in a Canadian context? How do we create incentives and opportunities to draw in private capital to boost clean tech innovation across our economy and to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure? How do we better assess risk and the value of assets through a climate-smart lens?

We must, and we can, build the knowledge, understanding and capacity of our financial system to rise to these challenges. We can do this by investing in the research, education, professional training and the collaboration necessary to lift our current generation of professionals to the next level, while preparing an emerging generation to lead.

For those of us in the financial sector, this is about the future of our industry. For all Canadians, it’s about the future of our economy and well-being. Let’s get started now.

_________________________________________________________The Conversation

Sean Cleary is BMO Professor of Finance, CFA, ICD.D at Smith School of Business at Queen's University, and Ryan Riordan is Associate Professor and Distinguished Professor of Finance at Smith School of Business at Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.


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