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Up close and personal with a deputy minister

The Fall Policy Talks series opens with a personal look at the balancing act of a deputy minister.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Minister of Public Safety, speaks to a packed room of School of Policy Studies graduate students and Queen’s and Kingston community members. (Photo: University Communications)
Malcolm Brown, Deputy Minister of Public Safety, speaks to a packed room of School of Policy Studies graduate students and Queen’s and Kingston community members. (Photo: University Communications)

A packed room of School of Policy Studies graduate students and members of the Queen’s and Kingston community listened keenly to the stories and advice of Deputy Minister of Public Safety Malcolm Brown, the first speaker of the Fall 2018 School of Policy Studies “Policy Talks” Series.

“At the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, we make decisions that impact Canadians’ physical safety and environments. For example, at the Canadian Border Security Agency, 300 to 400 decisions are made every day on who to allow into the country,” says Mr. Brown. “In an emergency preparedness capacity, we’re responsible for planning for what we hope never happens, from natural disasters to threats to the continuity of government.”

A Queen’s alumnus, Mr. Brown (Artsci’82) holds the most senior public service position at Public Safety, advising the Minister and acting as the connection between bureaucracy and politics. The department covers a large portfolio, including Correctional Services Canada, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA), Parole Board of Canada and the RCMP. Mr. Brown spoke about the role he plays in public policy and the relationships he manages to keep the portfolio running efficiently.

The School of Policy Studies hosts Policy Talks, a weekly series that covers a broad range of policy topics. Mr. Brown’s opening talk for the series gave the audience a look behind the scenes of one of Canada’s most high security departments.

“I report directly to the Clerk of the Privy Council Office and support the Minister, and I manage the relationship between the Minister and the department,” says Mr. Brown. “Deputy Ministers need to understand their Ministers to make this work. Figuring out how my Minister works and takes in information is crucial. If you don’t work together properly, you both operate in a vacuum.

“It’s essential that I, as the Deputy Minister, am the most trusted public service advisor to the Minister. Transparency and respect between other leaders in the portfolio departments keeps stakeholders in the loop, while also allowing me to manage those relationships.”

Audience members peppered the Deputy Minister with questions after his speech, including what it takes to be a leader in federal government.

“Impatience,” he says. “You can’t be satisfied with how things always are. You need to politely, and with respect, challenge the ways we’ve always done things.”

Many of the talks will be livestreamed this year. For details on this and upcoming Policy Talks, visit the School of Policy Studies website.

The Conversation: Fighting historic wildfires amid bad ideas and no funding

Canada's boreal region faces bigger, hotter and more frequent wildfires that are increasingly unpredictable, but lacks an investment in fire science that could help keep communities safe.

[Forest Fires]
A fire rages through Klamath National Forest in northern California. (Photo by Matt Howard)

Shortly after my book “Firestorm, How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future” was published in late 2017, I received a flurry of invitations to speak about the challenges of dealing with fires that are burning bigger, hotter, more often — and in increasingly unpredictable ways.

The invitations came from all over, from Los Angeles to Whitehorse in the Yukon and from Campbell River on Vancouver Island, to Portland, Me.

[The Conversation]I had serious doubts that anyone in Whitehorse would come out to hear me speak on a Saturday night in the dead of winter when it was close to -30 C.

It turned out to be standing room only.

The invite came from a group of concerned citizens, business leaders and the Yukon Science Institute. The attendees included homeowners, firefighters, emergency response personnel and Yukon cabinet minister John Streicker, who is responsible for the wildfire management division.

The discussion that followed my talk was heated at times, but it led to an open and frank conversation on how this boreal forest community, and others like it, might deal with wildfires like the one that engulfed Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2016 and those that are burning big in British Columbia this summer.

Investing in the future

More and more Canadian communities are signing up for the very sensible Fire Smart program, which promotes a variety of preventative measures such as forest thinning and the use of fire-resistant building materials to reduce the impact of fire.

Vulnerable towns like Nelson, B.C., are on the right track in developing evacuation plans and encouraging people to keep enough food and water on hand to sustain them for 72 hours. First Nations communities in B.C. are working with scientists like Lori Daniels to make their communities and forest-management zones more resilient.

But there are also a lot of poorly thought-out proposals being made.

Some residents of Jasper are pressuring Parks Canada to clear-cut the forests around town to form a fire break to protect it.

Across North America, the logging industry is lobbying governments to salvage the healthy trees and the partially burned ones that remain in a burned-out area. The rationale in this case is that a dead or dying forest has little value other than boosting a local economy.

There is a significant role for the timber industry in managing wildfire in the future. But a growing number of studies show that clear-cutting a burned-out forest is not the answer.

Fire is a natural process that makes forests more resilient to drought, disease and future fires. And it’s good for wildlife.

[Forest fire approaches homes]
A forest fire burns near homes in Estreito da Calheta, Portugal. (Photo by Michael Held)

Woodpeckers, nighthawks and many species of owls thrive in burned-out areas. Elk and moose feed on the aspen shoots that rise up quickly after a fire. Grizzly bears and black bears benefit from the roots and berries that do well when a fire exposes the forest floor to sun and rain. Rivers and lakes tend to heat up in nasty ways when there are no trees to shade them and the cold-water fish they nurture.

There is also tendency to think that the best way of dealing with fire is to pour more money into traditional firefighting resources. When I spoke at the University of California, Los Angeles in April, many people in the audience called for more water bombers and irrigation systems.

While this helps, it’s not the whole answer. The only thing that is going to stop a big wind-driven fire that typically blows in from the east is the Pacific Ocean, Ralph M. Terrazas, the fire chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department, said during the question-and-answer session that followed.

Modern firefighting for modern wildfires

What firefighters like Terrazas and others need are new or improved tools such as unmanned aircraft, better fire-risk maps, real-time warning systems, smoke projections for active wildfires and computer models that predict where the next fire might strike.

This is being done by several scientists in Canada, including Mike Flannigan at the University of Alberta, David Martell at the University of Toronto and research scientists at the Canadian Forest Service.

The ranks of these researchers, however, are small, and the funding for wildfire science in Canada and the United States is miserly compared to the generous amounts that are allotted to disaster recovery. In 2016, for example, the federal government provided approximately $300 million to Alberta to help Fort McMurray rebuild. More came from the province and Red Cross donations, which the federal government matched. All told, more than $600 million was spent fighting the fire.

This knowledge deficit and the shortage of new tried-and-true strategies are what is leading decision-makers and the public astray when it comes adapting to and responding to the new wildfire paradigm that is unfolding in our forests.

Building a national wildfire strategy

The fact that people want better wildfire management is a good thing.

What’s needed is a national wildfire strategy such as the one proposed by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers several years ago. Many of the best recommendations made in a report commissioned by the council haven’t yet been implemented, including the need to invest in wildfire science.

What’s needed is funding agencies such as the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council to step in and identify wildfire as a priority issue for researchers.

What’s needed is for the FireSmart program to be accelerated with more funding from the provinces and territories.

What’s needed is for Parks Canada to invest more in prescribed burning and forest management

And finally, what’s needed is for the federal government to restore funding for the Canadian Forest Service to at least 1990s levels, when it employed 2,200 people. CFS employs about 700 people now, and only about a dozen of those are wildfire scientists.

How can we expect to make progress on preventing catastrophic wildfires when we have a hotter and drier boreal forest than we had 30 years ago, and fewer fire scientists working to protect it?

The Conversation


Ed Struzik is a fellow of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, School of Policy Studies.

This article was originally published on The Conversation, which provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen's researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors.

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

Exploring art worlds

The "Art Worlds" pilot program is a partnership between the Smith School of Business and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

  • [queen's agnes etherington art centre art worlds mba students Jacquelyn Coutré]
    In the first session of Art Worlds: A User’s Guide, Jacquelyn N. Coutré delves into the masterpieces of The Bader Collection and historical European art. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [queen's agnes etherington art centre art worlds mba students Jacquelyn Coutré]
    Ms. Coutré, the Bader Curator and researcher of European Art, incorporates the Artists at Work exhibition into a session of Art Worlds: A User’s Guide. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [queen's agnes etherington art centre art worlds mba students Jacquelyn Coutré]
    MBA students ask Ms. Coutré questions, preparing for their own presentations later this summer. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [queen's agnes etherington art centre art worlds mba students Tau Lewis]
    Stonecroft Artist-in-Residence, Tau Lewis, presents her work and process during a session of Art Worlds: A User’s Guide. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

This summer, alongside art camps and classes, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre is offering a new custom program for Smith School of Business students.

Art Worlds: A User’s Guide is a cultural enrichment series designed to provide MBA students with foundational knowledge about art, its history and purposes, and the systems through which it thrives.

Expanding on the Agnes’ Learning through Art initiatives, sessions took place in the galleries and in the David McTavish Art Study Room, augmented by a studio field trip and conversation with 2018 Stonecroft Foundation Artist-in-Residence Tau Lewis.

“This pilot program is designed to introduce the language of art, and to explore the art museum as a forum for ideas and shared encounters,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “Through guided discussions and close examination of works of art, these students are gaining insight into how visual art circulates, inspires, and moves people. We want to empower these future business leaders to enjoy artistic culture at large, and to embrace the value of creative process in new ways.”

The program takes advantage of the Agnes collections and expertise to enrich the intense year-long MBA program. This collaboration between the Agnes and Smith was supported by David Saunders, Dean of the Smith School of Business, who sits on the board for the art centre.

“Strong business leadership is more than PowerPoints and numbers. Great leaders need to draw on both sides of the brain – the quantitative, analytical left side and the creative and intuitive right side,” says Dean Saunders. “This program, led by the excellent curators of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, challenges our students to literally see the world differently. I have no doubt they will be stronger leaders as a result.”

In the first session, Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator and researcher of European Art, delved into the masterpieces of The Bader Collection to explore the enduring value of Old Master paintings and their high stakes at market. The exhibition Artists at Work: Picturing Practice in the European Tradition provided a setting for discovering the ways in which the history of art is constructed, curated and mobilized.

Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art, built on that theme to talk about the ways artists create languages of process and form in a session culminating in an encounter with artist Tau Lewis in her Ontario Hall studio.

Other sessions included Alicia Boutilier, Chief Curator and Curator of Canadian Historical Art, discussing why people collect art and how taste is nurtured, mapping out the paths that artworks take from private homes to public collections, including the role of collectors in evolving museum mandates. Ms. Allen also mapped out big-picture forces and frameworks that shape the creation, presentation, and meaning of art today. 

In the final session, to be held July 12, the tables will be turned when program participants make presentations on artworks within a chosen scenario for their instructors and special guests.  

“Our MBA instructors often encourage us to seek out diverse experiences and flex the mental muscles that enable us to approach problems with a new perspective,” says Danilo Prieto (MBA'19). “As an engineer, I felt it was important to round out my skill set with this experience – to challenge myself to truly appreciate art and creativity and how it adds value to a society.”

The 16 students who completed this initial offering each received a certificate from the Smith School of Business to complement their studies.

Faculty are encouraged to explore bringing the power of art to their programs and courses: information is available on the Agnes' website.

The Conversation: Time to press the reset button on Canada’s national parks

The Trudeau government's effort to fill national parks with people does not bode well for wildlife.

The wilderness in Canada’s parks is shrinking due to encroaching business. Pictured here: the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park is cantilevered 280 metres over the Sunwapta Valley floor. (Jack Borno/Wikimedia), CC BY-SA
The wilderness in Canada’s parks is shrinking due to encroaching business. Pictured here: the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park is cantilevered 280 metres over the Sunwapta Valley floor. (Jack Borno/Wikimedia)CC BY-SA

Last summer, my daughter and I hiked the Sulphur Skyline trail in Jasper National Park. As it was mid-week, we had hoped it would not be as crowded as it can be on a weekend.

Nothing, however, prepared us for the caravan of people we encountered along the way.

There were seasoned hikers like us. But there were also people stumbling along in flip flops and city shoes, a young man with a boombox blasting from his shoulder and slower folk who eventually turned back because they could not trek up the steep mountainside.

We could have left behind the bear spray.

The only animals we saw were chipmunks being hand-fed at the summit. No park officials were there to tell the tourists that this was both illegal and unhealthy for the rodents.

A wilderness experience this was not.

Too many people?

I should have anticipated this when the Trudeau government gave every Canadian a free park pass to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country’s confederation.

The last thing that most of our national parks need is more people.

When Trudeau made the announcement in 2016, visits to the seven mountain parks — Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier — were already 8.5 million, up nearly 20 per cent since 2011-2012. The free passes added another five per cent, bringing the total number of visitors to the mountain parks to 9 million in 2017-2018.

This relentless effort to fill national parks with people does not bode well for the grizzly bears, caribou and other animals that Parks Canada is supposed to protect in wildernesses not overwhelmed by human activity.

It shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that animals fare better when humans aren’t around. Grizzly bears that live outside of national parks like Jasper have lower levels of physiological stress, better body condition and more successful reproduction.

Reset, again?

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna appears to have realized that Parks Canada has lost its way.

Yet when she vowed in May to press the reset button and send the agency back on a conservation course, there was a collective groan from scientists and conservationists on social media.

The button has already been reset so many times. There was a round table on Canada’s national parks last year — the fourth since 2008 — as well as the creation of a National Advisory Panel. People have stopped counting the ways in which Parks Canada has been given new direction, only to turn back to embrace business interests.

The most comprehensive reset was one offered up by the government-appointed Ecological Integrity Panel whose members, drawn from universities, government and non-profit organizations, travelled extensively to speak with Parks Canada staff and with interested Canadians to see first-hand the challenges the agency faced.

Their landmark report, published in 2000, remains timely. It offers a clear plan for limits on development within park boundaries and a strategy for ecological integrity, one in which conservation trumps development and addresses emerging issues such as wildfire and climate change.

A park ranger observes an elk
Following the report of the Ecological Integrity Panel, elk were no longer allowed to take refuge in national parks townsites. (Photo by Edward Struzik)

Parks Canada responded to that report and other blueprints by hiring more scientists to deal with species at risk, pollution, invasive plants and animals, and external issues that threaten ecological integrity.

The number of controlled burns were increased to mimic what Mother Nature would have done with lightning strikes. Elk were no longer allowed to take up residence in the Banff and Jasper townsites. Recovery plans were put in place for endangered species such as the black-footed ferret and caribou. Exotic trout were removed from mountain lakes. Golf courses made room for wildlife corridors.

It didn’t last long.

Burns bad for business

In the years after Stephen Harper was elected in 2006, many of the agency’s scientists were laid off. Those who stayed were forbidden to speak to journalists. One of them was dismissed without cause, allegedly because he wanted to release a year-old report on how a proposed ski expansion would further threaten caribou in Jasper.

As the scientists were shown the door, public relations experts, image consultants and marketing gurus were hired to lure more people into national parks.

The prescribed burn program continued on, but not with necessary speed, according to a scientist I spoke to. The budget wouldn’t allow for it. Burning trees was also deemed to be bad for business during the busy summer months.

The town of Banff is now in greater danger of burning than ever before because of climate change, and because Parks Canada has suppressed fire for so long in critical places such as Sulphur Mountain.

Caribou on the edge

Wildlife and wilderness have paid a high price.

In 2007, the last of Banff’s caribou died in an avalanche after years in which Parks Canada ignored the fate of caribou both within and outside the park. It was the first time a large mammal had disappeared from a national park in over a century.

Caribou in Pukaskwa in Northern Ontario are next in line. There may be as few as five left. None have reproduced in the park since 2011.

Now, we have the prospects for a paved bike path that will take riders from Jasper to Lake Louise through caribou, mountain goat and grizzly bear habitat.

We also have a road that will lead into a proposed mine adjacent to — and along the headwaters of — the South Nahanni River in Nahanni National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 180 km all-season road would connect the Prairie Creek Mine to the Liard Highway near Nahanni Butte, N.W.T, with about half of it passing through the Nahanni.

If there really is a reset under McKenna — Parks Canada declined to acknowledge that a panel has been struck — it might take Parks Canada back to its 2006 days when things started to unravel.

But what’s needed is a plan to make up for the progress that has been lost in the past 12 years.

Lowell Glacier Kluane National Park
There are breathtaking views available at Lowell Glacier Kluane National Park. (Photo by Edward Struzik)

As the wilderness in Canada continues to shrink, time is running out for caribou in Jasper and Pukaskwa, but also for the 42 at-risk species in Point Pelee, Ontario, the 18 in Grasslands in southern Saskatchewan, and the 50 or so in the Trent-Severn Waterway, in Ontario.

The ConversationThe list of species at risk in our national parks is a long one and unless Parks Canada takes meaningful action and puts their interests ahead of business, it will keep getting longer.

Edward Struzik is a Fellow at the Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, School of Policy Studies.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation: Sometimes the best move is the one you don’t make

File 20180528 90281 xhm6xd.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni, during Game 2 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in Houston. D'Antoni successfully resisted calls to change his team’s offensive strategy after losing Game 1.

“Defiant Rockets rewarded for ignoring calls for change.” That was one of the top headlines on ESPN following the recovery by the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals. Despite a barrage of criticism directed at the team’s offensive strategy after a lopsided loss in Game 1, the Rockets stayed the course. And it paid off.[The Conversation]

After a tough 119-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors two nights before, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni could have gone back to the drawing board and changed the offensive game plan. After all, that is what critics expected he would do to put the team in a more competitive position in Game 2.

But D’Antoni, like many basketball coaches, knows that sometimes the best move is no move at all.

D’Antoni’s decision not to change the isolation-heavy offence that led his team to the top of the Western Conference during the regular season is what I call “competitive forbearance,” a purposeful decision not to act when key decision-makers have opportunity and capability to do so.

Competitive forbearance is also an important strategic decision in the business world.

Competitive forbearance in business

Competitive dynamics, a stream of strategic management research, addresses fundamental questions in strategy: How firms behave and why firms perform differently.

Studies in this area have mainly focused on how competitive aggressiveness — the propensity to carry out a large number of competitive actions — increases a firm’s performance. Firms that fail to act frequently appear unenterprising or “passive,” which can diminish performance.

Little attention has been paid to the possible benefits of purposeful decisions not to act.

Mutual forbearance theory suggests multimarket rivals choose competitive forbearance to prevent unnecessary losses associated with escalating rivalry across several markets.

However, multimarket contact is just one situation in which forbearance is preferable to action. Savvy firms use forbearance to outmanoeuvre rivals in a variety of competitive situations.

For example, Apple decided not to integrate Adobe’s Flash Player into the iPhone and the iPad. As a result, Adobe withdrew its Flash Player from the Android mobile operating system of Apple’s arch enemy, Google, and chose to refocus its efforts around the emerging HTML5 standard. This suggests that Apple’s forbearance was the right choice despite being heavily criticized at the time.

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in 2007, Apple made a conscious decision not to allow it to work with Adobe’s Flash Player. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

I was part of a research project that explored the antecedents and consequences of competitive forbearance in the basketball coaching setting. Our research findings show that it has a significant impact on competitive rivalry.

How forbearance improves performance

In basketball, coaches make a wide range of forbearance decisions — not replacing players who are in foul trouble, not calling timeouts when teams are underperforming and not responding to opponents’ changes in offensive or defensive strategies.

In fact, 30 post-game interviews with nine coaches regarding their strategic decisions in 15 basketball games in the division one men’s basketball league of the FIBA–Europe revealed 673 competitive acts and 143 competitive forbearances. In other words, 17 per cent of all considered competitive moves were purposefully not executed. Competitive forbearance varied systematically across coaches.

The reasons basketball coaches choose to forbear can vary, from waiting for the full benefits of previous decisions to materialize to increasing players’ confidence — or in the case of D’Antoni, avoiding moves inconsistent with the team’s existing strategy and providing an opportunity for players to learn from experience. It was the right call — the Rockets went on to win 127-105 in Game 2.

Although competitive forbearance can improve team performance by expanding the range of strategic maneuvers and by making competitive behaviours less predictable, coaches are more prone to act than to forbear. Why is that? Two key factors are stakeholder pressure and coaching confidence.

Not acting attracts criticism

Owners, journalists, analysts, fans and players often assume that not taking action indicates incompetence and a lack of coaching skills. Thus, the norm is to act and forbearance is a violation of the norm.

The negative outcomes associated with forbearance are judged more harshly than the negative outcomes of actions. The effects of this pressure are especially evident in the last two minutes of the game, where our study revealed competitive forbearance was 62 per cent less likely to occur.

Not all coaches succumb to stakeholder pressure. More accomplished coaches had 42 per cent higher odds of forbearing. We also found the coaches who were confident about winning the game were over two and half times more likely to forbear. D’Antoni’s regular-season record with the Rockets — 65 wins in 82 games — would indicate a certain amount of confidence in the team’s odds of success.

When key decision-makers actively use forbearance, they consider a wide range of plots to outcompete rivals. They are also less predictable to rivals because they forbear when rivals expect action.

Despite its unique advantages, competitive forbearance is not in the toolkit of many basketball coaches. Only more accomplished and confident coaches are more likely to use competitive forbearance, which in turn, increases team performance.

And how did it work out for the Houston Rockets? D’Antoni kept firm to his forbearance decision throughout the Western final — he did not change the team’s offensive strategy. But a collapse in the second half of Game 7 led to a Golden State victory. If the Rockets did not lose Chris Paul when they were up 3-2 after five games, they might have been in the finals.

The ConversationIndeed, it is not one decision, but a series of decisions that can increase or decrease performance. Forbearances increased the chances of success, but it is a combination of actions and forbearances that is critical for winning.

Goce Andrevski, is an Associate Professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Strategy at Smith School of Business.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 3

The two biggest ceremonies of Spring Convocation are hosted in the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre.

  • Chancellor and graduate
    Chancellor Jim Leech helps a graduate find her family as they pose for a photo during the morning Spring Convocation on Tuesday, May 29.
  • Garduates saluting parents and friends
    Graduands in the life sciences and biochemistry programs salute those who have supported them throughout their studies during Tuesday's Spring Convocation ceremony.
  • Crowd for the sixth spring convocation ceremony
    Graduates sit across the aisle from their family and friends in the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre.
  • Double hooding during sixth ceremony of Spring Convocation
    A pair of graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science are hooded as they receive their Bachelor of Science degrees on Tuesday.
  • Graduate takes a selfie while waiting in line
    A graduate of the Bachelor of Commerce program takes a selfie as he waits to take to the stage during Tuesday afternoon's convocation ceremony.
  • Family and friends watch the seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation
    Family and friends watch the seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation, which featured the graduates of the Smith School of Business commerce program.
  • Double hooding during seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation
    A pair of commerce graduates are hooded at the same time during the seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation on Tuesday afternoon.
  • Graduates of the Smith School of Business commerce program fill the main gym
    Tuesday afternoon's Spring Convocation ceremony was held in the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre so that the entire commerce Class of 2018 could graduate together.

The Class of 2018 returned to the stage on Tuesday with the sixth and seventh ceremonies of Spring Convocation being held at the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre.

The change of venue allows the entire graduating class of the Smith School of Business commerce program to graduate together in the afternoon ceremony. The morning ceremony featured graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science’s biochemistry and life sciences programs, along with degree recipients from the School of Graduate Studies.

Spring convocation continues on Wednesday with two ceremonies being held at Grant Hall at 10 am and 2:30 pm.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Turning entrepreneurial dreams into reality

Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing'Dare to Dream program provides support for businesses launched by recent graduates of the Smith School of Business.

[Dare to Dream program winners]
Dare to Dream recipients Rizma Butt (MMIE'17) and Hakeem Subair (MMIE'17) talk about their venture, 1 Million Teachers, on The Morning Show on CKWS. (Supplied Photo)

From machine learning that helps restaurant owners fill seats, to an online platform that transforms teachers into lifelong learners, four businesses launched by recent Smith School of Business graduates are furthering their growth with support from Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing’s (QCBV) Dare to Dream program.

The Dare to Dream program provides critical resources to help Smith students and new alumni turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. Through the financial support of several alumni and corporate donors, each recipient is provided up to $15,000 in funding, office space and access to mentoring to help their new ventures succeed.

“Dare to Dream is about increasing the odds of success and inspiring entrepreneurial dreams,” says JP Shearer, Associate Director of QCBV. “By providing early stage ventures with the necessary support and resources to turn their plans into reality, Dare to Dream ensures entrepreneurs can continue to work on their businesses.”  

This year’s recipients are:

Kyle Brykman (PhD’18)
TalentFit – CIBC Dare to Dream

TalentFit, founded by Kyle Brykman, Mitch Gudgeon (MBA’13), and Lykaio Wang, matches job applicants to companies based on “culture-fit.” By combining academic research on organizational culture, and through machine learning and artificial intelligence, TalentFit helps job seekers find companies that are culturally compatible based on markers such as core values. 

Rizma Butt (MMIE’17) and Hakeem Subair (MMIE’17)
1 Million Teachers (1MT) – QCBV Dare to Dream

An online education program first launched in Nigeria, 1 Million Teachers is based on the idea that a major reason students underachieve is a lack of education among teachers. 1MT offers online learning for teachers through a rewards-based development program that encourages teachers and their schools to get on board. The program is now expanding to other sub-Saharan countries.

Leanna Li (Com’18)
Mia Technologies – RLS Foundation Dare to Dream

Mia Technologies, co-founded by Leanna and Eddie Wang, utilizes machine learning to ensure restaurants are at full capacity throughout the day. Mia is a reservation booking platform that lets restaurants set discounts in 30-minute windows based on their traffic. Lower discounts are offered during peak times, and higher discounts, during off-peak hours. 

Tyler Whitney (Com’17, Artsci’18)
Spectra Plasmonics — Battat-Steffensen Dare to Dream

Tyler Whitney and co-founders Christian Baldwin (Sc’18), Malcolm Eade (Artsci’18), and Yusuf Ahmed (Sc’19), created a patent-pending technology that provides quicker, more accurate and cost-effective chemical detection. Their vision for SpectraPlasmonics is to take quality chemical detection out of the lab and into the field for professions such as law enforcement and food safety.

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

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 2

Honorary degree conferred upon Isabel Bassett as three ceremonies are hosted at Grant Hall.

  • Molly Raffan, is hugged by her father James Raffan
    Molly Raffan, a graduate of the Professional Master of Education program, is hugged by her father James Raffan, a former professor at Queen's. (University Communications)
  • MBA wave
    A graduate of the Master of Business Administration program waves as she is hooded during the morning Spring Convocation ceremony on Friday, May 25. (University Communications)
  • Russell Evans and Daniel Woolf
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf shakes hands with Russell Evans after he received his PhD in Management during Friday morning's Convocation ceremony. (University Communications)
  • A Master of Business Administration graduate and Chancellor Jim Leech.
    A Master of Business Administration graduate points out her family as she is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech. (University Communications)
  • Video with cellphone
    A family member takes a quick photo from the balcony of Grant Hall during the afternoon convocation ceremony Friday at Grant Hall. (University Communications)
  • A pair of graduates from the Smith School of Business Master of Business Administration program are hooded
    A pair of graduates from the Smith School of Business Master of Business Administration program are hooded Friday at Grant Hall. (University Communications)
  • Isabel Bassett, Honorary degree recipient
    Isabel Bassett speaks to the gathered graduates after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's during the fifth ceremony of convocation. (University Communications)
  • Ashley Keays, Master of Public Administration
    Ashley Keays, a graduate of the Master of Public Administration program, receives a blanket from Laura Maracle, Aboriginal Cultural Safety Coordinator at the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. (University Communications)

Spring convocation continued on Friday, with three more ceremonies being held at Grant Hall.

The highlight of the day was the conferring of an honorary degree (LLD) upon Isabel Bassett, former chair and CEO of TVOntario, Member of Provincial Parliament, Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

The day’s ceremonies involved graduate programs from the Smith School of Business, as well as the Faculty of Education and School of Graduate Studies.

No ceremonies are being held on Monday, May 28. Two ceremonies will be hosted on Tuesday, May 29.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Closing the c-suite diversity gap

The Smith School of Business is launching new executive leadership programs for LGBTQ+ leaders, newcomers to Canada, and more. 

[Erin LeBlanc and Tina Dacin]
Erin LeBlanc (left) and Tina Dacin (right) are two of the minds behind this executive leadership program. (University Communications)

In the coming years, the Smith School of Business will unveil a series of programs aimed at fostering diversity in the corporate boardrooms and executive offices across the country. 

The first such program launches this October, and is designed specifically for senior business professionals who identify as LGBTQ+.  

“Many LGBTQ+ business people shield their identities in the workplace,” says Tina Dacin, Stephen J. R. Smith Chair of Strategy & Organizational Behavior, and Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Smith Business School. “While significant strides have been made in LGBTQ+ acceptance in Canada, there are still barriers to senior leadership roles for members of the community. Our hope is that all of these programs will support leaders as they embrace and apply their full identities at work.” 

According to the Canadian Board Diversity Council’s 2017 Annual Report Card, the number of respondents who self-identify as LGBTQ serving on Financial Post 500 boards decreased from 2.1% in 2016 to 1.6% in 2017. The LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program aims to help turn the dial and speed up progress in this area by increasing the talent pool in this category of diversity. 

Offered by Smith’s Centre for Social Impact at the SmithToronto learning facility, this five-day program is intended to help individuals strengthen their leadership impact and work with confidence and authenticity. The five days will include speaker presentations, group discussion, exercises, and opportunities for self-reflection. Completing this course can also help students attain their Certificate in Social Impact for Professionals from Smith.

The LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program is the first of its kind in Canada, and was inspired by a similar program offered by Stanford University. There are 30 spaces available in this inaugural offering, and Dr. Dacin says interest has been strong. 

Erin LeBlanc is an Adjunct Lecturer with Smith School of Business, and will be one of the faculty in this leadership program. She was a part of the program design committee, and will be presenting on the diversity of communication, thinking, and problem solving styles. 

“As a member of one of the communities that is the focus of this program, I would have loved to take a program like this had it been available before,” says Ms. LeBlanc. “People are concerned about being their authentic selves at work for fear of reducing their upward mobility, and we hope this program will help them bring their whole selves to work without compromise.” 

In the coming years, the Smith Centre for Social Impact will also be launching programming for women in leadership, Indigenous leaders, and newcomers to Canada. 

To apply to the LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program or to learn more, visit ssb.ca/diversity.  

Honorary degrees for spring ceremonies

The presentation of honorary degrees is one of the many traditions of convocation. This spring, seven recipients will be honored during the ceremonies. All recipients were selected by Queen’s community members for their contributions to the local community, Canadian society, or the world.

The honorary degree recipients this year include:

Phil Gold, Doctor of Science DSc

[Phil Gold]
Phil Gold

Ceremony 2: Thursday, May 24 at 2:30 pm

Phil Gold is the Executive Director of the Clinical Research Centre of the McGill University Health Centre at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) and the Douglas G. Cameron Professor of Medicine and Professor of Physiology and Oncology at McGill University. He has served as the Inaugural Director of the Goodman Cancer Centre, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at McGill, and Physician-in-Chief at the MGH.

Dr. Gold’s early research led to the discovery and definition of the Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA), and the subsequent CEA blood test. In 2006, the Phil Gold Chair in Medicine was inaugurated at McGill University. Dr. Gold was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2010, and also received the Life Time Achievement Award from McGill University and the inaugural McGill University Faculty of Medicine Global Achievement Award in 2011.

Dr. Gold has received national and international recognition throughout his career, including the Gairdner Foundation Annual International Award (1978), Medizinische Hochschule, Germany (1978), the Johann-Georg-Zimmerman Prize for Cancer Research (1978), the Isaak Walton Killam Award in Medicine of the Canada Council (1985), the National Cancer Institute of Canada R.M. Taylor Medal (1992), the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal (2002), and many other accolades, including honorary degrees from a number of universities.

Isabel Bassett, Doctor of Laws LLD

[Isabel Bassett]
Isabel Bassett

Ceremony 5: Friday, May 25 at 4 pm.

Professionally, Isabel Bassett was Chair and CEO of TVOntario, MPP and Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation for the Ontario Government, and host and producer of award winning documentaries on CFTO TV, which focused on social issues such as sexual abuse, mental health, and teen gangs.

Now retired, Ms. Bassett is a facilitator using her know-how and connections to work for gender parity. She advocates to get young people more involved in politics and for more diversity on boards and in senior management positions. She is now adding her voice in support of the McMichael Gallery to awaken the public to Canada's little known treasure house of Canadian Art.

Indira Samarasekera, Doctor of Science DSc

[Indira Samarasekera]
Indira Samarasekera

Ceremony 12: Thursday, May 31 at 4 pm

Indira Samarasekera served as the twelfth President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alberta from 2005 to 2015. She also served as Vice-President (Research) at the University of British Columbia from 2000 to 2005. She is currently a Senior Advisor for Bennett Jones LLP and serves on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Nova Scotia, Magna International, and TransCanada. Dr. Samarasekera was appointed by the Prime Minister to serve as a Federal Member to the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments until 2017.

Dr. Samarasekera is internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading metallurgical engineers for her ground-breaking work on process engineering of materials, especially steel processing. Dr. Samarasekera was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002 for outstanding contributions to steel process engineering. In 2014, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in the US, the profession’s highest honour.

As a Hays Fulbright Scholar, she earned an MSc from the University of California in 1976 and a PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of British Columbia in 1980. She has received honorary degrees from the Universities of British Columbia, Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, and from Western University in Canada, as well as Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland.

Valerie Tarasuk, Doctor of Science DSc

[Valerie Tarasuk]
Valerie Tarasuk

Ceremony 13: Friday, June 1 at 10 am

Valerie Tarasuk is a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Tarasuk’s research includes Canadian food policy and population-level dietary assessment, but much of her career has focused on income-related problems of food access in Canada. She played a pivotal role in the implementation of food insecurity monitoring in Canada and has helped spearhead efforts to use monitoring data to inform programming and policy decisions. Dr. Tarasuk has led PROOF, an interdisciplinary research program investigating household insecurity in Canada, since 2011. In 2017, Dr. Tarasuk was honored by the Canadian Nutrition Society with the Earle Willard McHenry Award for Distinguished Service in Nutrition.

John Baird, Doctor of Law LLD

[John Baird]
John Baird

Ceremony 14: Friday, June 1 at 2:30 pm

John Baird served as a senior cabinet minister in the Government of Canada. Mr. Baird spent three terms as a Member of Parliament and four years as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also served as President of the Treasury Board, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. In 2010, he was selected by MPs from all parties as Parliamentarian of the Year. He is currently a Senior Business Advisor with Bennett Jones LLP.

An instrumental figure in bilateral trade and investment relationships, Mr. Baird has played a leading role in the Canada-China dialogue and worked to build ties with Southeast Asian nations.

Mr. Baird holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies from Queen’s. He volunteers his time with Community Living Ontario, the Prince's Charities, and is a board member of the Friends of Israel Initiative.

Hugh Segal, Doctor of Law LLD

[Hugh Segal]
Hugh Segal

Ceremony 15: Monday, June 4 at 10 am

Now the fifth elected Principal of Massey College and a strategic advisor at the law firm of Aird and Berlis, LLP, Hugh Segal has spent his career in such public service roles as the Associate Cabinet Secretary (Federal-Provincial Affairs) in Ontario and the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.  In Ontario, he was involved in the negotiations to patriate the Canadian constitution and create the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Mr. Segal chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism between 2005 and 2014.  He served as Canada's Special Envoy to the Commonwealth and a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on reform and modernization, human rights, and rule of law.

A former President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Montreal, a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs, the Queen's School of Policy Studies, and the Smith School of Business at Queen's, Mr. Segal holds honorary doctorates from the Royal Military College of Canada and the University of Ottawa.

Douglas Cardinal, Doctor of Law LLD

[Douglas Cardinal]
Douglas Cardinal

Ceremony 21: Wednesday, June 6 at 2:30 pm

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Douglas Cardinal's architectural studies at The University of British Columbia took him to Austin, Texas, where he achieved his architectural degree and found his passion for human rights initiatives. Mr. Cardinal has become a forerunner of philosophies of sustainability, green buildings, and ecologically designed community planning.

Mr. Cardinal has received many national and international awards, including 20 Honorary Doctorates, Gold Medals of Architecture in Canada and Russia, and an award from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for best sustainable village. He was also titled an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the most prestigious awards that can be given to a Canadian, and he was awarded the declaration of “World Master of Contemporary Architecture” by the International Association of Architects.


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