The Future of Canada

After living in the city for just 10 months, Peter and I feel we know a lot about the future of Canada. How did we learn so much at our advanced age, just by moving to the city?

When we planned our move we decided, what the heck, let’s make some other changes in our lives at the same time! So we gave up our newspaper subscription and went rogue – to the Globe and Mail. After only a short while, (and a couple of letters to the editor), we were invited to join the “Globe Insiders.” Soon we began getting surveys about various newspaper topics. And then came a biggie – an invitation to the Globe and Mail’s 175th anniversary event. There was to be an all-day conference on the future of Canada at the new Globe office downtown. We were as excited as little kids going to a theme park. We dusted off our business clothes and set out, on the subway of course.

Arriving at the new Globe and Mail building, we were greeted with breakfast. The food, along with the lunch and the snack breaks, was all supplied by a local organic caterer. We were served delicacies such as BC smoked salmon, lentil burgers, couscous salad, organic nuts arranged in tiny bamboo cups. When time allowed, we were able to eat our food out on the 17th floor patio, with a spectacular view of Lake Ontario. This was a first-class event for sure.

But the food and the view were surpassed – by the content. The keynote speaker, Jim Balsillie, inspired us with facts about Canada’s accomplishments on the world stage. He spoke about the Trans Canada Highway, the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes canal systems, the CBC national news network, Canadarm, labour laws, health care, pension plans. He gave so many examples that I could barely keep up, feeling a great sense of pride as I tried to write them all down.

This overview of accomplishments was followed by several panel members outlining and discussing our collective fears for the future. There was a lot of talk about climate change in terms of Canada’s wealth of natural resources: the damage caused by the tar sands and our reliance on fossil fuels, the overuse of plastics and the much-needed ban on single-use items, the need to change our eating habits and lessen food waste. We were left admitting that, as individuals, we could, and should do more to protect all that we have.

Then a different panel dealt with technology and the problems it has created: the decline of quality public information, the increase in social divisions, the loss of personal privacy, and above all, the vulnerability of democracy. The upside to this story is our outstanding education system and the growth of talent in the technology field. We need to support our tech workers better and encourage them to stay in Canada.

The closing presentations showcased ways in which we in Canada are being successful in the eyes of the world. Several speakers, many of them refugees, described how they have made a big difference in our society. We heard from Esi Edugyan, writer and two-time winner of the Giller prize, Zita Cobb, founder of Fogo Inn and re-builder of the Fogo Island economy, Vishal Vijay, CEO of Every Child Now. Our tradition of accepting and integrating immigrants is a shining example for the world to follow.

Despite this inspiring day, Peter and I are certainly not experts on Canada’s future. But we left the conference feeling grateful; grateful for all we have in this country, and grateful that we moved to the city where we had a chance to learn so much, just by taking a short ride on the subway.


3 thoughts on “The Future of Canada

  1. Wowie Sueee! This is terrific. Great writinag and a great day. You sure are making the most of the city.


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