A virtual year in review

What we have learned from Massey’s virtual events over the last 14 months – A Reflection

The Massey Dialogues were designed to create a space for intergenerational and interdisciplinary conversations on current issues. They also allowed us to meet new members of the community: Dr. Sunit Das, Phil Fontaine, Kumar Murty, Dr. Dianne Saxe, Dr. Juna Kollmeyer, Randy Boyagoda and Steve Paikin, among others. 

The present overview summarizes what we heard during the last year, as our world struggled with so many issues: the impact of the pandemic, Anti-Black racism, residential schools and their impact on Indigenous communities, climate change, and on-going difficult issues for our democracy and international relations. The Massey program is about our continuous desire to be curious about the world, and to have access to new research and new perspectives. It also aims to celebrate books, art and music. I hope that you will enjoy this smorgasbord of ideas and perspectives that reflects a year of turmoil all around us. 

Virtual Series

Click on the heading to read about each virtual series and highlights from some of our guest speakers.

Needless to say, the Massey Dialogues looked at the pandemic and its myriad influences in our lives. We discussed a new strategy for global health, global health priority setting Dr. James Orbinski, Dr. Peter Singer and Dr. Joanne Liu, the reorganization necessary to ensure adequate supplies of protective devices, the pandemic’s impact on the economy, the transformation of work, the gig economy, racialized communities and the most vulnerable. We discussed the impact of COVID on international relations – foreign and defense policies with Margaret Biggs and Rosemary McCarney. We discussed long-term care and the need for change, the impact on learning, on the arts and the opportunities to implement basic income. We continued to learn about the “long” COVID health-wise and financially as well – we know that COVID will be with us for a long time.   

COVID will have defined our time and as we continuing to learn and understand the transformative impact of a pandemic, one thing is certain – science matters. The Massey community, with its wealth of academic research and its long pedigree of journalistic excellence, was, and continues to be, ready to serve. Many community members were at the forefront of the work and shared the way in which COVID transformed the way medicine is delivered, how virtual medicine is here to stay, and the way in which health data is shared – we discussed the governance and privacy concerns with this transformation. 

Looking back at our series discussing COVID, I am struck at how in the spring of 2020, we were optimistic about our ability to use the pandemic as an opportunity for meaningful change. That optimism diminished throughout the year and although there is still a desire to “build back better,” we are feeling the heavy burden of a year of disappointments.  I am also more convinced than ever that interdisciplinarity is central to human progress. Medical advances about longevity must be accompanied by housing and social support investment and public health and public policy should be forever intertwined.  

Vaccination and herd immunity may lift us, but we know that around the world, it will take some time. More time than some of us thought.

Conversations about the pandemic exposed deep fractures in our society such as systemic discrimination like racism and ageism which cost many lives. As the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson said, “When I saw these revelations of the long-term care home, about the neglect, about personal service workers having to have two jobs because they weren’t paid enough, it made me feel ghastly. We cannot have public personal support workers being paid minimum wages, it is exploitation of newcomers to the country and it is unfair and not right. When you have economic injustice, everything follows from that and women have suffered from that more than anything.” We also discussed the impact of the pandemic on persons with disabilities and the way in which their struggles were often forgotten, as well as the gendered dimensions of at home schooling and the “she-cession” that affects women’s work opportunities.  

The Press Club discussed COVID’s implications for the media – it is a highly precarious time for journalism as we’ve known, but one that also offers opportunities. Will journalists emerge from the pandemic battle-hardened or worn down? Has the long period of working from home helped or harmed the value of traditional newsrooms? What is sacrificed when journalists can’t be at the scene of an event, and what workarounds are acceptable? What effect will the pandemic have on efforts to make news organizations more diverse, and on the rise of independent journalism? 

The public policy challenges are huge, we will continue to discuss the issues of recovery for years to come: investments, social and economic change, workplace adaptation, deficits, poverty alleviation, bankruptcies, there is no shortage of subjects to study and debate in 2021-2022.  

On March 31, 2020 we began Massey Dialogues with a discussion of anti-Black racism and policing. That was before George Floyds’ murder, and it serves as a reminder that all the signs were there. 

Our conversation about anti Black-racism continued throughout the year. We looked at what was happening at Massey itself, and in the higher education world. From the history of anti-Black racism to being Black in politics, and on racism and resistance in the arts scene. The messages were clear: the time for action is now.    

Excerpts from the conversations: 

  • Using colonialization as a lens helps us understanding more fully how members of certain groups come to be overrepresented in the criminal justice system. – Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Senior Fellow  
  • I prefer to talk about African Liberation Month – focus on the struggle that is and was. In Black History Month, we tend to celebrate exceptional people. It’s important to know these people. But the message should be to understand the political history of Black people and what comes from that. – El Jones, a spoken word poet, an educator, journalist, and a community activist 
  • We are trying to re-imagine society and need to reinvent it. Nicole Mfoafo-McCarthy, Junior Fellow 
  • Art and sports can provide space to change the narrative of what it means to be Black. They are places to expand the definition. It’s not just one thing. When we explore it, we see that being Black is about a collective. – L’Ashante Henry, Junior Fellow  
  • We’ve talked the talk, now let’s walk the walk. – The Honourable Jean Augustine, Senior Fellow 
  • In North America, there’s a commodification of Black trauma, in the media, news, academia. People are making money off of it. These choices are often coming from oppressive systems… Joy is a part of our psyche. – Ian Keteku, Multidisciplinary Artists 
  • When more Black people produce, we get to see more Black joy. I try to create work that provides lightness and joy. We need to have stories of Black people having a good time. – Luke Reece, Associate Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre 
  • We need people to stop putting all Black people in the same box. – Karine Ricard, Artistic Director, Théâtre français de Toronto 

It is very poignant to listen to Former AFN Chief Phil Fontaine’s views on reconciliation with Junior Fellow Mia McKie and Senior Fellow Bob Rae, in light of current events. Such wisdom about the challenges ahead as they exchanged views on a roadmap toward reconciliation, the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ role as a founding people of Canada, the repeal of the Indian Act, respect for treaties, the creativity necessary to ensure autonomy of Indigenous Nations and respect for their political and legal systems, particularly in the context of resource development.   

On November 11th, we looked at the relationship between Indigenous communities and the military, a fascinating conversation about a long history of heroism and transformation.  

Through our partnership with the Mississaugas of the Credit, we also organized a week of discussions on Indigenous issues. The week was an occasion to reflect on the struggles of Indigenous Peoples throughout Canadian history. We heard from Jeannette Corbiere Lavell who challenged the gender discrimination in the Indian Act and brought her legal case all the way to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. We heard from her daughter, Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association who continues to work on remedying the legacy of gender discrimination under the Indian Act. Christa Big Canoe described the work of the Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “A challenge to all Canadians is to listen to the stories or read the reports, to learn – at a minimum – specific calls to justice because those are the foundational pieces to build understanding and work towards reconciliation. Until we do that, we’re not actually a country or society that has the interests of every member on its mind and not upholding their human rights,” said Christa Big Canoe.   

Ceda Turan and Senior Fellow Peter Russell described the process of treaty-making designed to trick Indigenous communities into conceding lands so that they could be cheaply acquired. Chief Commissioner Celeste Haldane of the BC Treaty Commission described the process of modern treaty-making which seeks to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People through more respectful means. We discussed Indigenous policing and the instalment of “peacekeepers” from the community to assist with law enforcement in accordance with Indigenous laws with Chief Stacey LaForme from the Mississaugas of the Credit. Retired Justice Harry Laforme explained how difficult the current arrangements are as they prevent enforcement of Indigenous by-laws. Junior Fellow James Bird talked about the future, “The way forward is difficult within the existing systems. But it is possible with widely available access to information and the willingness of other Canadians to learn the history and treasure the contributions that Indigenous people can bring to Canada.” We also had the chance to discuss Metis rights with the President of the Ontario Metis Association Margaret Froh, Professor Signa Daum Shanks and Metis Alum Kia Dunn.
Being comfortable and being accurate when talking about the past is a great obligation,” Dr. Signa Daum Shanks.
 

We looked at a beautiful virtual tour of the Chapel Royal with an explanation of its significance.  We also had the opportunity to listen as part of the Chapel Royal Symposium to the enchanting music of Moe Clark.  

Thanks to Ambassador Rosemary McCarney and Dr. Dianne Saxe, we prepared for COP-26, the international meeting on climate change that was supposed to take place in November 2020 and was postponed to this year. The Massey program on climate change was extraordinary: we heard from attendants to past international meetings, Ministers, scientistsmusicians and artists, Black activists, curators, and ambassadors and activists. There was a simulation of negotiations for climate change and an examination of artifacts at the ROM that speak to climate change. 

Here are some highlights: 

  • If Black voices were more prominent in the discussions around climate policy, I think they’d take a more holistic and integrated approach to climate solutions. Not just look at narrow things like wilderness or switching to environmental goods that are costly. Consider everything! Like food security, housing initiatives (making landlords handle energy efficiency) and urban agriculture. – Dr. Cheryl Teelucksingh, Visiting Scholar 
  • What makes the ice crawler significant for climate change? – Dr. Dianne Saxe, Senior Fellow 
  • They are the only order of insect that is endangered. As climate changes, they are becoming more limited to where they can live. They don’t have wings and can’t easily relocate. – Doug Currie, ROM Curator 
  • Dr. Sarah Fee speaking about an Indian textile hanging with Junior Fellow Laina Southgate. “The global cotton industry is also dealing with and contributing to environmental havoc. Natural dyes require a lot of water and India is having a water shortage. The communities that develop the tapestries have had issues with water and have been innovating, including collecting rainwater for washing.” – Dr. Sarah Fee, Senior Fellow and ROM Curator 
  • We can see the first bacteria forming in the water. The iron was deposited to the bottom of the ocean. All of that iron formed 60% of the iron we use today. It is the kickstart of life. – Kim Tait, Senior Fellow and ROM Curator   
  • During a discussion on a painting of the Hindu god Krishna: “I often see paintings as a snapshot of a moment.” – Cam Galindo, Junior Fellow 
  • Part of our challenge is to understand how to look at art – as a representation of an artist embedded in a society going through transformational change. We can ask, ‘how can art be used as a document in the absence of any other scientific record at the time?’ Artwork can reveal understandings of nature. – Deepali Dewan, ROM Curator and Senior Fellow 
  • I had two main motivations in writing the Icarus in Flight concert. 1) Make the data audible in the music. The listener would have a clear sense of how the data changes over time. 2) I tried organize the data that wouldn’t impact my ability to create melodic material. – Richard Festinger, Composer, Icarus in Flight 
  • Icarus shows two options for the future: By 2080, carbon emissions could be negative – humankind will be moving more carbon out. But worst-case scenario, it could be 100+ more times than in 1880. – Richard Festinger 
  • The issue is urgent, but we want our audiences to still know they can do something about it. We encourage people to take action at home and on a societal level – work with outside organizations. If you are doing nothing, learn and start where you can. –  Stephan Crawford, Executive Director of The Climate Music Project 
  • Music is powerful at inspiring a response and engaging thought. Data has a role to play. Art and music are integral parts of humanity. It’s important for scientists to engage in arts. Better funding for the arts in general would help. – Gavia Lertzman-Lepofsky, Junior Fellow 
  • Whenever arts have a chance to have a seat at the table, it has a big impact on the conversation.Richard Festinger
  • Trade policy must be part of climate change strategies and it is happening. – Ambassador Stephen de Boer 
  • If you’re a citizen curious about how to drive these issues, the biggest tool you have is your vote and your ability to hold elected officials accountable. Climate change is not a partisan issue. Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network
  • My students tell me when they go through Canadian universities, they appreciate lively debates on issues. The informal norms of learning and improving through vivid debate. In this province, we have a culture of modesty and hard work, but it gets in the way of lively debate.  Dr. Daniel A. BellDean School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University, Qingdao 
  • Universities have a history of keeping open dialogue, continuing progress. We shouldn’t hinder academic freedoms.   Dr. Qian Tang, former Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO Sector of Education 
  • When geopolitical issues are taking place, we in education, the more we can keep ourselves open and keep channels open, the more we can benefit.  Dr. Ruth Hayhoe, University of Toronto, Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE

On Canada, we discussed the role of the new Ambassador to the United Nations, Senior Fellow Bob Rae, with Junior Fellow Keshna Sood. We expressed our concern about the impact of social media on the operation of (Canadian) democracy; had a conversation with the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin about justice during the pandemic; had an analysis of the state of the media; and debated the issue of freedom of expression with John Ralston Saul, Haroon Siddiqui and Junior Fellow Jona Zyfi. We also discussed Canada’s linguistics regimes and Canada’s diversified Arab population. Thanks to Tom Axworthy, we had a very thoughtful discussion on water security 

The fabulous Series on the Arctic led us to recognize how the Arctic, at the forefront of climate change as it is, is also a place of tension and innovation on international relationships. I want to thank Rosemary McCarney and Tom Axworthy for the very rich and in-depth discussion of this issue. I also want to thank Michael Valpy for bringing us Nunavut’s response to COVID. 

We also held a special series on Cities discussing their role in our constitutional framework.    

International issues and relations were also addressed: we were fortunate to review Canada’s emerging relationship with the US and President Biden and Canada and China’s relationship in higher education. Senior Fellow Nurjehan Mawani discussed the voices of women in Afghanistan and we looked at a very special photography exhibition for the anniversary of the Dayton Accord on Bosnia 

Here are some tweetable moments: 

  • It’s been around 60 days since the inauguration. There’s been a reassuring quality to the new administration entering the White House. There have been multiple signs of familiarity and normalcy. – Christopher Sands, Senior Fellow 
  • When a President says ‘buy American,’ it helps boost morale. – Anne-Marie Fowler, Junior Fellow 
  • Transitions are bumpy. With border closures, we talk more about each other than with each other. We’ve had a period of separation; we need to keep up the dialogue. (Massey spirit!) We are friends at the end of that day. We aren’t at odds with each other. – Christopher Sands
  • When there is a relationship of trust, everything doesn’t have to be so predicted or controlled, there can be improvisation. A wonderful thing about the relationship, the two countries can surprise each other in a good way. It’s a very special relationship. – Anne-Marie Fowler
  • Freedom of speech is the life blood of democracy. Our charter protects it. – Prof. Yasmin Dawood, Canada Research Chair in Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Electoral Law   
  • Disinformation isn’t a new problem. – Prof. Yasmin Dawood 
  • What are the ethical issues of using security and safety as the basis for governing language? A lot of countries are banning what the government considers fake news/misinformation. – Gabrielle Lim, researcher at the Technology and Social Change Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center 
  • Is the public obligated to be their own ombudsman? Is the public able to combat these tendencies of mis and disinformation? – Jeffrey Dvorkin, Senior Fellow  
  • You have the right to free speech, but don’t have the right to amplification across the internet. There are ways to get around it – preventing the post from being shared. We spend lots of time discussing platforms, but we need to talk about mainstream media too. – Gabrielle Lim 
  • I was thinking about imagines that show us the best and worst of human nature. On the 1992 cover of TIME magazine, a frail man standing behind barbed wire, did more to shock people and to express outrage and – eventually establish the wartimes tribunal – than anything else. – Payam Akhavan, Senior Fellow 
  • Photos are important as historical records in front of judges. Preserving a legacy of information through art allows actors to rely on them to fight denial about genocide and give insight as to individual experiences when people can’t express it themselves. – Delia Bikic, Alum 
  • On the success of the Dayton Accord: “At that point, the Dayton Accord was important to stop the war. It was the floor, not the ceiling. It was wrong the way it was divided.” – Chris Leslie, photojournalist and filmmaker  
  • On the Arctic, regarding bilateral and multilateral relations with Russia: “We shouldn’t have hopes for rapid progress, but we should make an effort to talk.” – Ambassador Sergey Batsanov, Member of Pugwash Council 
  • The Arctic Council has done valuable work, as it’s matured, it needs to think through a renovation to represent the people who live there and suffer from climate change and other issues. They should benefit from the resources as well. – Tony Penikett OC, former Yukon Premier 
  • Climate change is something Indigenous people have always known was coming, something they had to deal with. Indigenous people have always had to be adaptable, resilient and responsive to change. – Kluane Adamek, Assembly of First Nations Yukon Regional Chief 
  • We need to be responding like our house is on fire.Kluane Adamek
  • The best practices for community displacement and relocation: determine what is critically important to them, put community culture first, think strategically with the land you are retreating from. Land can be repurposed for naturalization, heritage, traditional cultural uses. – Prof. Brent Doberstein, Associate Chair Undergraduate Department of Geography & Environmental Management, University of Waterloo 
  • On the Northwest Passage: “I try to make my colleagues understand this is an Indigenous homeland. There needs to be a respect for people who use and inhabit the waters. The message isn’t getting out there. I don’t think people truly understand the real issue.” – Suzanne Lalonde, Professor of International Law 

And then, Massey continued to be curious about the world: we were curious about old water on the moon which may help explain the possibility of life, explorations of the cosmos the social relationships of snakes; and the convergence and divergences of world philosophy; looked back at radio programming about ideas; and brain injuries in sports – how we know what to do but continue to tolerate violence in sports. 

We held a Book Club Gala with Margaret Atwood and our 2020 Jack McClelland Writer-in-Residence Susan Swan. We launched a new series called “Massey Loves to Read” which allowed us to celebrate books written by community members, public policy books about health policy, equalization, the future of democracy and Canadians around the Globe, as well as fiction. We reread Fifth Business, learned about the policing of Black Lives and listened to music, music composed by our Junior Fellows and alumni and fabulous international journeys of music through the Indigo Project. 

A few tweetables: 

Science and Curiosities 

  • What does it mean to be human? What is intelligence? Why do I get up in the morning? These questions are going to get harder and harder to answer. – Prof. Kumar Murty, Senior Fellow 
  • Ideas are the myriad ways we explain the cosmos themselves. To generate ideas is to invoke the imagination. – Bernie Lucht, Senior Fellow 
  • It’s always important to remember where we came from so we can move ahead. The challenge with interviewing academics is still there. There is a keener desire to be in the space so the broader population can understand their work. – Naheed Mustafa, Alum 
  • The challenge of relevance will always exist for people doing creative work. I sometimes take issue with the term relevance – it isn’t always based on the connection to the individual. We want to speak to things you might need to know but don’t. – Naheed Mustafa 
  • Curiosity is the key. Astronomy is a gateway science. One of the best aspects of astronomy is that the data is available to the public. There is an open science revolution. – Dr. Juna Kollmeier, Senior Fellow 
  • The amazing thing about humanity is that we have drive and passion for discovery. It is important for its own sake. It doesn’t have to be applicable right now for it to be important. It’s worthy of studying in its own right. – Martine Lokken, Junior Fellow  
  • Over the last few decades, the number of women in science has been growing, but Black and Indigenous women have often been left behind. The attempts to break down the barriers have often only benefited white women. – Martine Lokken 
  • It’s important to breakdown systemic barriers to accessing education in earlier school years so they can eventually participate in any field, including STEM fields. – Aarya Patil, Junior Fellow 
  • Almost none of the players are engaged in the stupid stuff. It’s excused as just the game, but the majority of players don’t play like this. – Ken Dryden, Senior Fellow 
  • In the context of brain injuries (concussions in sports): There is a disturbance to the brain function. 1/5 people will have longer term effects in term of recovery (beyond 4 weeks). Brains have the consistency of jello. We need to have swift and strict consequences to see a change in behavior. – Sandhya Mylabathula, Junior Fellow 
  • The business of the sport, of the game, doesn’t care at all. Players are treated as replaceable. The mantra is “next man up” when it comes to pro-sports. – Arash Madani, Sports Anchor 
  • My biggest problem is calling it a concussion. We aren’t calling it a brain injury. When a player is injured in another area of their body, they refer to it is an injury. – Arash Madani 

Books

  • On The Art of Sharing: The Richer Versus the Poorer Provinces Since Confederation: Quadrangler, Steve Paikin asked, “Think about the building blocks of Canada, where does equalization payments go on the list?” Quadrangler, Mary Janigan said, “It funds Medicare and the social programs we like, but no one pays attention to it. I think it’s the primary building block of Canada.” 
  • On Sally Rooney’s Normal People: “Rooney tries to make the novel universal by answering the age-old question, how do you develop and maintain relationships?” – Sandra Martin, Quadrangler
  • On An American Marriage: “The book is relatable to my own family history. It struck me that arbitrary experiences can change the course of a whole life. I thought of the ways in which the government in South Africa (where my mom is from) would determine how white you were with nonsense tests.” – Dr. Alia Weston, Visiting Scholar 
  • What kind of agency do people have? Who has the ability to find their way out of an imposed situation of oppression? – Dr. Alia Weston
  • On Love and Tyranny, the Life and Politics of Hannah Arendt: Forgiveness is often irrational. Sometimes it could be mad to forgive. Forgiveness is a precious gift to give someone and it should be handled with care. – Dr. Ann Heberlein, Author 
  • On Remaking Policy: “Principal insight: we need policy change as it relates to the conditions of the time. Governments will only do it as they see it will benefit them politically. Once they decide that, they need to determine how big and how fast a change.” – Carolyn Tuohy, Author and Senior Fellow 
  • Sometimes it seems the human race needs to get right up against the catastrophe. COVID has brought out the flaws in ourselves. – Chaviva Hosek, Senior Fellow 
  • On The Unconventional Nancy Ruth, Everyone should write their story. – Nancy Ruth, Senior Fellow 

Music

  • The best music invites the listener. – Sam Little, Junior Fellow 
  • On the Indigo project: Without colour, wool would be like a body without a spirit. – Alison MacKay, Musician, Tafelmusik 
  • Jimmy & Rosalia is a new myth, situated in a familiar imagined landscape of early 18th Century Maritime colonial settlement. While our production focuses on colonial society and makes references to relations between French and English settlers, we are working with a Mi’kmaq poet, Killa Atencio, to help frame our production as set on land that has been occupied by colonial settlement. The settler history of Canada represents only a fraction of the millennia of Indigenous life here on Turtle Island. – Nick Veltmeyer, Junior Fellow 
  • The point of opera from a societal perspective is somewhat elite. What we tried to do is be egalitarian for all and share the beauty of opera with everyone. Our show will be performed in a park and is linked to everyday life – which will engage our audience. Thomas Ayouti, Junior Fellow 

We also held a Series on Ethics co-directed this year by Tom Axworthy, Senior Fellow at Massey, and Don Gibson, a United Church Minister, expert in organizing ethics roundtables. The Series sought to engage the Massey community in a discussion of practical ethical decisions. The format was a single panel expert, knowledgeable about ethical frameworks, in dialogue with additional panel members (decision-makers and activists). Discussions centred around how ethics informs their approach to real-life experiences. 

The Series, which drew on the Principal’s Installation theme, The Ethics of Community, featured: Indigenous Scholar Tracey Lindberg, late disability activist Christine Karcza, Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch, philosophy professor Daniel Weinstock and scientist Molly Soichet.  

In 2020 -2021, four sessions were organized: 

  • Political Ethics Today: Why it Matters More than Ever, moderated by Tom Axworthy with panel members Reverend Don Gibson; Penny Collenette, law professor and former advisor to Jean Chretien; and Mary Dawson former Ethics Commissioner for the Government of Canada. 
  • Ethics in International Relations: Do They Exist?, moderated by Tom Axworthy with panel members Lorraine Wienrib, Professor of Law, University of Toronto; Dr. Tina Park, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect; and David Collenette, former Minister of National Defense. 
  • Ethical Challenges for COVID Recovery, moderated by Don Gibson with panel members Lois Wilson, Massey Senior Fellow and former Chair of the World Council of Churches; Kerry Bowman bioethicist; and Stuart MacDonald, a prominent business advisor and investor. 
  • Ethics and Media: Is It Time for a New Framework?, moderated by Tom Axworthy, panel members Julie Traves, former Deputy Editor of the National Post; Charles Pascal, former Deputy Minister of Education; and Don Gibson (who had to sub at last minute for Jeff Douglas, former host of As It Happens who was caught in a winter storm). 
  •  

While it is difficult to summarize such rich discussions over many months across several ethical issue areas but several themes did emerge for these focused events: 

  • Respect for Indigenous ethics require that we pay attention to doing no harm to indigenous communities. Similarly, concerns for equality demand that we make “visible” persons with disability and that we continue to work to eradicate racism.
  • Engaged researchers who comment on public issues owe a duty of transparency about the research process and the limitations of their own expertise. Scientists will not be trusted if they fail to acknowledge the limits of knowledge and sometimes the evolution of their own thinking. 
  • Ethical Challenges are everywhere and decision makers find it difficult to cope with how to apply ethics in real time. Julie Traves, for example, gave examples of how reporters have to file immediately as stories break (given pressures to compete) and often there is not time to do extensive fact-checking. Thinking about ethics is a daily business. Penny Collenette suggested that our political parties need to take a much more active role in ethical training of those who run for office. 
  • But there is more consensus on ethical frameworks than we realize whatever the problems in implementation. For example, Dr. Tina Park made the point that even in international relations where the tradition is one of “realpolitick,” the United Nations by large majorities has voted for human rights landmarks like the responsibility to protect. We do not live in a Hobbesian world of ethical anarchy. 
  • Codes of ethics and educating the wider public on ethical issues is a real necessity. Mary Dawson, for example, discussed how Ethics codes have played an important role in setting standards for political ethics and that such standards apply to the highest officials, even the Prime Minister as recent events has shown. 
  • There are few absolutes in ethics, you need wisdom and judgment to make decisions in complex situations. In discussing COVID, for example, Stuart MacDonald discussed the dilemma of competing ethical norms such as the necessity of public health standards in lockdowns versus the necessity of small business owners trying to survive. How do you apply the generally accepted standard of fairness? 

Conversation highlights: 

  • We have to ensure the consumers of tomorrow are far more informed. It’ll be education that gets us out of this with social media. In the meantime, there has to be legislation to take this on and do a much better job with what’s available and not available. – Prof. Charles E. Pascal, former Deputy Minister of Education 
  • How can we maintain this standard when the business model of the last 150 years is broken? – Tom Axworthy, Public Policy Chair, Massey College 
  • I think the standards of ethics are the same, but it’s more difficult to convey. You’re always trying to use speed and be accurate in a world that never forgets. – Julie Traves, former Deputy Editor of the National Post 
  • Being right isn’t a strategy. Borrowing from Stephen Covey: ‘Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.’ – Charles E. Pascal
  • We as consumers and producers, we need to be curious and critical, but not judgmental. – Julie Traves

Thank you

Thank you to our many volunteers. Particularly those who have led our series this last year.  

  • Music Club: Mary McGeer, Hannah Chan-Hartley, Helmut Reichenbacher, Sam Little, Barbara Charles, Samantha Chang and Claire MacMurray 
  • Book Club: Miriam Hird-Younger, Alexander Sarra Davis and Harry Malcomson 
  • Climate Action (COP26): Ambassador Rosemary McCarney and Dr. Dianne Saxe 
  • Ethics Series: Thomas Axworthy and Reverend Don Gibson 
  • Fall programming: Michael Valpy and Kesha Sood  
  • Massey Grand Rounds: Dr. Aubie Angel with Massey Grand Rounds Symposium Co-Chairs Anastasia Korolj and Krish Bilimoria 
  • Ursula Franklin Forum: Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar 

 

I also want to thank all the speakers that contributed over the course of the year to the Junior Fellow Lecture Series: Adan Moran MacDonald, Rushay Naik, Cam Calindo, Sam Minden, Maeve Palmer, Shane Saunderson, Liz Cunningham, Seshu Iyengar, Jenna McKellips, Sam Minden, Monica Jean Henderson, Julian Posada, Gavia Lertzman-Lepofsky, Martine Lokken, Paul Chen, Maddy DeWelles, Stephanie Bertolo, Sourojeet Chakraborty, Keshna Sood, Anne-Marie Fowler, Sumner Alperin, Avnee Paranjape, Keith Gerein (Journalism Fellow) and Aaron Wendland (Visiting Scholar). A very special thank you to coordinators Anne-Marie Fowler and Christine Tran for organizing and facilitating!  

Conclusion

I’ve mentioned only a fraction of what we have accomplished this year – we couldn’t have done it without you and it has been my pleasure to collaborate with so many of you. 

I am proud of our community and how we have come together online in spite of this pandemic to nourish learning and serve the public good. We continue to look forward to when we are once again able to gather together safely, in the meantime it is my hope that we have kept you engaged and informed throughout these difficult times. Massey continues to be where people and ideas intersect because of you.  

Photo of Welcome Reception Nathalie Des Rosiers and Chief Laforme outdoors
May 31 Book Launch Nancy Ruth
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