Meeting Speaker October 6, 2021

David T. Chapman started doing photography at the age of 16. He is self-taught in the art of photography and has been pursuing his career professionally since the age of eighteen. He learned at a very young age from his father to appreciate his environment in the surrounding countryside. He enjoys taking photographs of weather phenomena, especially lightning, as well as scenery and nature. David likes to seek out unusual examples of nature such as albino robins, ice crystal formations and frozen water droplets. To date he has found multi-petalled Ontario trilliums, the highest of which had 33 petals. David is also a professional speaker and enjoys entertaining and educating a good crowd. His main areas of expertise are Weather/Aurora Borealis, Local Interests and Ontario Scenery of Ontario, Birds and Wildlife.

David spoke to us about “Storm Chasing in Ontario” although really what we received was a lesson on all kinds of cloud and weather phenomena as they tend to occur in the Niagara and GTA regions.  His work really began to take off around 2010 when it became much easier to find storms using smartphones.  Prior to that they used AM radios to try to assess the static level generated by lightning.


David spent quite a bit of time showing us time-lapse videos of various phenomena, such as:

  • Shelf clouds with a gust front below

  • Funnel clouds including snow spouts in the winter and water spouts in other seasons.  These occur when there is a 13 degree temperature differential between ground level and 5,000 feet

  • Lake effect snow – not as common around here as say Collingwood, but form similarly to water spouts

  • System snow – Colorado lows and Alberta clippers – draw moist air from the south and cold air from the prairies or even the arctic; the mixture gives us large snowstorms

  • Ice bridge or ice cave – showed photos of one near Bronte; caused by snow piling up and then being carved out by wave action

  • Arctic sea smoke – these are basically funnel clouds but with a temperature differential more like 20 degrees; e.g. ground temperature around 1 degree with upper level temperatures of around -19 degrees

  • Steam devils

  • Sun dogs – he showed us photos of rarely seen sun dogs on top of a snowpack

  • Hoar frost and ice fog – usually happen when it is calm and sunny, which causes moisture to rise off the snow and then if it gets very cold, causes the accumulation of frost on branches

  • Sun pillars – frost crystals falling an illuminated by sun very low to the horizon, or can actually be lit by headlights or streetlights

  • Cuspular rays – sun is lighting evaporated moisture after, for example, an overnight rain

  • Fogbows – like a rainbow but without much colour because the droplets are much smaller and don’t refract as much

  • Glory – a ring below you; David photographed one down from the escarpment that he shared

  • Roll cloud – usually seen in the summer; features rising on the front and sinking on the back

  • Fall streak holes – kind of a hole in the cloud deck; caused by supercooled water vapour at altitude

  • Northern Lights – were seen in downtown Toronto in 2003; every 11 years there are more sunspots and thus more corona mass ejections which interact with Earth’s atmosphere to produce the colours we see

  • Shear funnels

  • Super cell tornado – also called a rotating thunderstorm (10% become tornados, and 90% cause damage)

  • Wave spray bows – like a rainbow but caused by spray from waves; need to be at just the right angle

  • Rain curtains – at sunset can produce some very beautiful colours

  • Windstorms – or November gales, usually caused by Colorado lows

  • Lightning – can be as much as 20 km away from the cloud, thus “bolt from the blue”.  There are      Cloud to air (weak)

          Intracloud (80% of all lightning)

          Amble crawlers

          Cloud to cloud

          Upward (often from radio towers or wind turbines)

          Stratoform – horizon to horizon

  • Inferior mirage (cold air on top of warm surface, reflecting the sky) like the normal illusion of water on the roadway

  • Subterior mirage – creating the illusion of objects floating above their real selves, sometimes even multiple times.  An example he showed was of buildings in downtown Toronto being viewed from across the lake, where the cold air with warmer air above bends the light so you see mirages above


David also shared with us some websites he uses to track storms:


The forecasts from these sites are for the U.S. only, but you can easily extrapolate from Ohio and Michigan forecasts to predict what might happen locally.


You may also view more photos at his website:


Meeting Speaker September 1, 2021

Wendy Belcher is a volunteer at the Oakville Historical Society and leader of Oakville Ghost Walks.  She leads  “ghost walks” in downtown Oakville in October every year.


The History and Ghosts of Oakville


Wendy presented her talk as the character Esther Silverthorn Thomas, born 10 May 1806, died in 1891.  She herself is a visiting, not haunting, ghost.  Staying in character, she related the history of Oakville through the eyes of Esther.  When returning to visit, she usually visits her sister Rebecca, who became the wife of William Chisholm, the founder of Oakville.  Esther married Merrick Thomas, a man who worked in a shipbuilder’s company.  They lived in Thomas House, currently located in Lakeside Park.

Oakville was one terminus of the Underground Railway, which helped fleeing American slaves escape.  One mariner, Robert Wilson, took loads of lumber to Rochester, and returned with smuggled slaves.

Esther took us on a tour of some of the historic houses and buildings in Olde Oakville with stories of each, often about ghosts that live there.  The Granary, the small stone building in front of the condo of the same name, is built of stone, but Oakville has no quarry.  The stones were gathered from the bottom of Lake Ontario using an invention of a freed slave, Samuel Adams (who lived in Bronte), the stone hook.  These were used by “stone boats”, thus the name of the restaurant that used to be on Bronte Road.

The Oakville Club was a granary until 1908, when it became the club.

Esther had lots of ghost stories:  a figure seen at a bar in the old Murray House hotel, that disappeared when spoken to; a mysterious playing piano in Captain Anderson’s house (it was not a player piano), doors opening and closing on their own; a woman picking flowers outside Erchless estate that disappeared; footsteps of Christopher Columbus Lee, the butler there, who has stayed in the house along with a couple of children that can be heard playing; a figure in a long black coat in the house that when asked by historical society members, who were having a meeting in the house, how and why he was there, just disappeared through a wall.

The Oakville Centre for Performing Arts also has a resident ghost called Alice. She tends to haunt the backstage areas and doesn’t like new technology.  She has been credited with making equipment fail time and again, even after it has been sent out for repair.  The Abbey (now the Golf Hall of Fame at Glen Abbey Golf Course) also has a ghost.  Staff there have fluffed up a chair in front of a log book, and have come back to find an indentation in the cushion and the log book open.  One staffer has reported seeing the pages of the log book flip over on their own.

Some questions were asked and answered by Wendy at the end of Esther’s talk.  One related to the basket factory that was where the Oakville GO station is now.  At one time Oakville was the strawberry capital of Canada.  Throughout, she did a nice job of promoting the work of the Oakville Historical Society, and differentiated it from the Heritage Oakville Advisory Committee, which is responsible for approving changes to the exteriors of certain designated properties in Oakville.

For more information about the Oakville Historical Society and this year’s Ghost Walks, please click here:

Meeting Speaker August 4, 2021

Dr. Calvin Gutkin, Executive Director and CEO,

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (retired)

"Our COVID healthcare pathway and where to from here?"


From 1985 to 1995 Dr. Calvin Gutkin, a family physician, served as Head of Emergency and then Chief of Medical Staff of Credit Valley Hospital. He then held the position of Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) for 17 years.


Dr. Gutkin was a physician for Ontario and Canadian Special Olympics and the Toronto Youth Athletic Club which helped disadvantaged boys. He completed three terms on the National Board of The Michaelle Jean Foundation and is currently a Board Director with Writers Collective Canada a charitable organization that provides creative writing workshops for marginalized and underserved populations.  He has published numerous articles and presented keynote and other addresses at meetings across Canada, in the United States, and abroad.


Dr Gutkin is currently a Board Director at CarePoint Health a new patient-centered integrated care centre in Mississauaga. He is also on the Governing/Collaboration Council of the Mississauga Ontario Health Team - the Ontario Government’s new governance model responsible for the oversight of health care services in each region.

Dr. Gutkin’s talk provided us with a view of what has happened to our health care system in Ontario over the past 3 decades or so, and the impact of those changes on our ability to respond to the COVID pandemic.

He began with describing and event from the 1980’s, the sale of Connaught Laboratories to Sanofi of France.  Connaught had a storied history as a key element in the development of insulin by Banting and Best, as well as one of the sites heavily involved in the Salk polio vaccine.  Why the sale of this asset is important in the COVID environment is that countries that have been hosting and supporting R&D and vaccine production in their countries had favoured access to COVID vaccine production.  Recently, it has been announced that the Federal Government has struck a deal with Sanofi to build an R&D and production operation in the Toronto area.

In the 1990’s, there was the Ontario Healthcare Restructuring Commission, chaired by Duncan Sinclair.  It was challenged with looking at the whole health care delivery system, including hospitals, long-term care, primary care and home care, with a view to recommending changes to improve delivery.  Recommendations included hospital consolidation along with moving more care into the community.  As it happened, hospital restructuring did occur, including a loss of beds overall, but investments in the other aspects of restructuring did not occur.  As Dr. Gutkin described it, cherry-picking was the order of the day with the result being that there was a decrease in acute-care hospital beds, and so an already tight situation became that much tighter.  These changes continue to affect us to this day.  When a surge such as a normal flu season brings, hospitals are bursting at the seams.  Canada has a very low ranking in terms of hospital beds per capita.

Long-term care has been very poorly resourced.  During the onset of the COVID pandemic, they were the site of the greatest surge of infections; the result was that 80% of deaths occurred among residents and staff of LTCs during the first two waves.

Also in the early ‘90’s, there was a national commission resulting in what is known as the Barer-Stoddart report.  It’s conclusion was that Canada has too many physicians, and so recommended that we reduce the number of places in medical schools by 15%.  Not surprisingly, this led to a significant doctor shortage.  About 50% of physicians are family doctors, and we went through the period where it was almost impossible to find a family doctor.  And because of increased workloads and the inability to do a good job, many doctors retired.  By 2004, it was finally agreed to reverse direction and train more doctors.  But it takes a long time to recover from this type of shortage, and the effects linger.  There really were no resources available to handle the COVID crisis, but it had to be done anyway.  We are still paying the price for the decision in the early ‘90’s.

Meanwhile research has shown that there are better medical outcomes to be had when there is a strong family physician – patient relationship.  It is recognized that we need new models of practice, because a small practice cannot do it all.  Teams of family doctors supported by nurses, nurse practitioners, mental health workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists and clinical pharmacists, all linked together working in one facility on behalf of the practice’s patients will be more efficient and work better for both the providers and the patients.  The College of Family Physicians introduced a concept called “Patient’s Medical Home” which provides integrated and coordinated care.  Surveys showed that 85% of potential patients surveyed responded positively to the concept.  It was accepted at the Federal level in 2010; versions have sprung up in several provinces.  Dr. Gutkin is a board member of one called Carepoint Health in Mississauga, which is a 30,000 square foot facility with the elements described above, along with some specialists also having office hours in the same facility.  Meanwhile, Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) have been replaced with Ontario Health Teams, so there may be some recognition that this model is the way forward.

Back to COVID – one issue is the relatively slow rate of vaccination.  Dr. Gutkin speculated that this may be because the public is much more informed than they would have been 100 years ago, but since the science is evolving, it is leading to confusion in the messaging.  Another issue is the abysmal failure to test and contact trace.  If you can do that, you can isolate infected people and suppress the spread.  It is difficult to do, but apparently most jurisdictions had no plans as to how to do it, and many, including many states and Alberta have given up trying.  This is concerning given the rapidity with which mutations can arise.

As hospital beds have filled up with COVID patients, other services have had to be curtailed, clearly detrimental to the health of non-COVID patients.  ICUs have been expanded into other wards to meet the demand.  Along with this are conspiracy theories circulating that the whole thing is a hoax, and moreover, that the vaccines are dangerous.  Dr. Gutkin made the point that no vaccine will be 100% effective, but that the COVID vaccines are excellent.  COVID is becoming a disease of the unvaccinated.  THEY are THE risk to the rest of us because they will be the breeding grounds for new mutations, which current vaccines may not be as effective against.  And vaccinated people may be asymptomatic but able to infect others.  We will probably need masks and social-distancing measures for quite some time.  However, the good news is that vaccinated people will likely have a much smaller viral load even if they are infected, so less likely to pass it along to others, such as unvaccinated children.  It is likely that we will need a booster, perhaps something that is formulated to be more effective against variants.  However, there is not yet a policy covering if and when a booster is required.


Stuart joined the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) in February 2020 following the amalgamation with Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC). As Executive Vice President of Mission, he oversees the Research and Advocacy teams.  He has held leadership roles at several national cancer research institutes and government agencies and holds a Doctorate in pharmacology from Oxford University.


Meeting Speaker July 7, 2021

Dr. Stuart Edmonds, Executive Vice-President of Mission, Canadian Cancer Society


New Developments in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer




The key points from the presentation were, Prevalence, Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer. 


Prevalence:  Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men in Canada.  On an average everyday 63 men are diagnosed and 11 men die from the disease.  1 in 9 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.  If prostate cancer is detected early meaning if the disease is local or regional, 5, 10 and 15-year survival rates are, 100, 98 and 96 percent respectively.  The 5-year survival rate is 28% for metastatic prostate cancer. When the disease is metastasized, it spreads to lymph nodes, bones or brain.


Diagnosis:  Most cancers are initially recognized either because of the appearance of signs or symptoms or through screening.  Screening aims to detect cancer before symptom appear.  This may involve blood tests, urine tests, other tests or medical imaging.  Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test which is a blood test and, Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) are initial tests for detecting prostate cancer.  Neither of these leads to a definitive diagnosis.  PSA test is very good in detecting abnormality with the prostate.  But it does not indicate that there is a cancer in the prostate.  People with suspected cancer are investigated further with additional medical tests.  Two most common tests are, TRUS Biopsy (Trans Rectal Ultra Sound) and MRI.  Biopsy is effective but not perfect.  Recently a phase 3 study was conducted to address the following questions: if an MRI before biopsy, can increase the number of significant cancers detected, decrease diagnosis of insignificant cancers and reduce number of biopsies.  Results showed decisively that MRI together with targeted biopsies offer patients a less invasive procedure, the chance to avoid a biopsy altogether and can help avoid the over treatment of clinically insignificant prostate cancer


Treatment:  Prostate cancer treatment depends on the stage of the tumor.  In the initial stage when the cancer is slow, not progressing, asymptomatic/non-metastatic, no treatment is required.  The disease is regularly monitored which is also called “Active Surveillance”.  The next stage is a localized disease, when it is limited to the prostate.  The treatment options at this stage are, Radical Prostatectomy, External Beam Radiation, Brachytherapy or localized radiation.  Many new radiation therapies are under investigation.  If the disease is metastasized, which be determined by bone scans, MRI or CT scan, there are two relatively new drugs, Zytiga and Xtandi and they are found to be very effective.  In addition, there are other chemotherapy options.  A lot of new drugs in the areas of radioligand therapy and immunotherapy are under development.  These new drugs are expected to improve prostate cancer treatment further.

Summary of questions and answers:  It is not true that the chances of getting prostate cancer diminishes with age.  We all will get prostate cancer if we live until age 150.  It is still possible to get metastatic prostate cancer despite normal PSA test and DRE.  But it is not common.  Some of symptoms of prostate cancer are, blood in the urine and back pain.  PSA is not going remain low if there is a cancer.  The rate of increase if PSA is warning signal.  A negative MRI test is not necessarily indicative of no cancer.  The assessment should be based on review of all the parameters.

Meeting Speaker June 2, 2021

Professor Tony Tarantini, Sheridan College

Tony Tarantini.jpg

Bachelor Animation Program at Sheridan

The current Bachelor of Arts Honors Animation Program at Sheridan has evolved through four stages: it started in 1968 just as courses, became a 3-year diploma program in early 70’s, then some international courses were added and in 2004 became a 4-year Honors Bachelor program in animation.  Faculty members are both full and part time and most of them have industry experience.  The program recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The program is practice/production based to develop a unique and innovative professional to meet the constantly changing needs of the industry.  Being a college program, everything is application based.  The objective of the program is to provide education and practical training in order to develop specialized generalists who are then able to recontextualize their skills in many industries and creative platforms.  There are a number of different options for specializations.  In addition there are programs outside of the Bachelor program.


The students are expected to understand the total animation process and at the same time they specialize in a particular area.  The program organizes an industry day annually so that potential employers can meet graduating students for possible recruitment.  The invitation to the annual industry day includes a short film highlighting work of students.  This way employers will have some initial idea of the capabilities of potential recruits.


Sheridan was named top Animation School in world in 2019 according to Animation Career Review’s 2019 ranking of top international colleges excluding US.  A large number of Sheridan’s graduates work in the film industry in Los Angeles and they are very successful.  They have produced some very interesting and creative films.  Many of them have been either nominated or received various awards in different film festivals.


Professor Tony Tarantini considers teaching to be his raison d'être. He has taught a wealth of animation and visual arts courses and workshops. His areas of animation expertise are:  animation production, directing, storyboarding, layout, design, and art direction.  He believes in helping students develop a vision of their creative identity and instill in them a belief that they can access their potential and realize it.


He has been teaching at Sheridan College since the year 2000 and is currently the third year Layout and Art Direction teacher, Student Advisor, and Mentor to four production teams. In addition, he is the Animation Industry Day Coordinator for the Sheridan College exciting year end event where animation graduates from both the BA Program and three other certificate programs showcase their talents to an International Animation Industry.


Tony is a veteran of the animation industry with more than 20 years of creative and management experience. He has worked in many areas of animation production.  He has contributed to features and animated TV series:  Magi-Nation, Redwall, Timothy ,Ewoks, Beetlejuice,  American Tail, Dog City, Rupert, Tales From The Cryptkeeper, Eek the Cat, Neverending Story, Blazing Dragons, Sam and Max, Ace Ventura, Pippi Longstocking and  award winning animation productions that have had international recognition like the Care Bears, Little Bear, Babar, George shrinks, The Magic School Bus, Franklin and the award winning short film “Tomboy”.


Tony holds an MA from York University (Toronto, CA) where he researched the effects of digital technology on the Greater Toronto Area Animation Community (GTAAC).  He is also a graduate from the Ontario College of Art & Design University (Toronto, CA).  He is fluent in Italian and studied painting, drawing, and art history for two years in Florence, Italy, a place he frequents regularly and where he teaches often.  He is a veteran motivational speaker and lecturer with credits that include, Ottawa International Animation Festival (Ottawa, Canada), Communication University of China (Beijing, China), Nemo Academy (Florence, Italy).

Meeting Speaker May 5, 2021


Hassaan Basit, President and CEO, Conservation Halton

Conservation Work in Halton


Hassaan joined Conservation Halton in 2004 and held progressively responsible leadership positions.  Hassaan spent the past 4 years developing and implementing the current strategic plan called “Metamorphosis”.  The implementation of this plan has led to a significant improvement of the organization in all target areas.

The Ontario government decided to form local Conservation Authorities after Hurricane Hazel.  It was considered that local administration and management of issues like flooding, soil erosion, deforestation etc. would be more effective than being managed by the provincial government from a central location.  Halton Conservation is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario.  It was formed in 1963 as a result of amalgamation of authorities 12 mile & 16 mile creek.  The board of directors for this authority is comprised of elected municipal representatives from various local municipalities and citizen appointees.


Managing public safety due to environmental hazards such as flooding and soil erosion as a result of climate change is a primary responsibility for the organization.  The other major focus area is meeting increased demands for nature and parks as a result of continued population growth.  A few years back the Halton Conservation Authority (HCA) realized that the organization needed to revitalize and modernize in order to meet growing demands, increase efficiency and attain long term sustainability.  Therefore, four years ago a strategic plan was developed. 


The four-year strategic plan objectives have been completed now and it is entering into the next phase.  The priorities for the current planning period are: Natural Hazards and Water, Conservation and Restoration, Educational Empowerment (school children or outreach events) and Engagement, Nature and Parks, Organizational Sustainability, Digital Transformation and Innovation, People and Talent.  The authority continues to make progress in all the areas.  Of note, HCA now manages four dams under its responsibility digitally.  Similarly, visitors now can make reservation for park visits on line. 


HCA has organized some special events, such as: Hops and Harvest Festival: An annual festival to bring together local breweries, food and nature.  Last winter as a result of COVID, HCA organized an immensely popular special event called “Winterlit” at Mountsberg where the park was illuminated with little lights so that people can walk around.


A very significant of achievement of HCA is that the management of parks is not tax payer funded.  It is completely self-funded from user fees.  HCA is responsible for managing the following parks:


  1. Crawford Lake

  2. Mountsberg

  3. Robert Edmonson

  4. Hilton Falls

  5. Kelso/Glen Eden

  6. Rattlesnake Point

  7. Mount Nemo

Meeting Speaker April 7, 2021

Rabbi Stephen Wise, Shaarei-Beth El Congregation of Oakville


The Challenges of Judaism in the 21st Century

Rabbi Stephen Wise is the spiritual leader of Shaarei-Beth El (SBE) Congregation of Oakville. He is excited to be part of a congregation as diverse, storied and unique as SBE; leading meaningful worship experiences for all, teaching thought provoking courses for adults and children, providing inspiring programming and being a catalyst for social activism.

This month we tried out a new format, wherein rather than having a prepared presentation, our speaker was "interviewed" by member Gord Stovel, to draw out thoughts and comments that relate to the topic.  Gord began by asking the Rabbi what he thought about the differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Rabbi Wise began with the similarities - they are all monotheistic religions (believe in one God), have a core text (Torah, Old and New Testaments, and the Koran, respectively), include group prayer to God and have core values that are similar.  Differences typically relate to who each recognize as prophets.

Gord asked Rabbi Wise if he has ever been confronted by the need to identify as a Jew, what situations that might have occurred in and how he handled it and how it made him feel.  The Rabbi described small acts of anti-Semitism that occur frequently, and some larger cases he remembers when he was a student at a private Jewish school in Toronto, when playing sports against teams from other non-Jewish private schools.  His experiences have grown into his role consulting with schools in the area when acts of hate against other religions need to be addressed.  He noted that he has never felt in any particular danger in Canada, but related a situation where he was in Denmark for several months and was advised to not be identifiably Jewish, particularly in terms of wearing his kipa, which he normally does.  In that case, though, the difficulty in the country appears to have arisen in the immigrant Muslim community.

Gord led the discussion on through a description of the major Jewish holidays and how they are celebrated.  They then moved on to the issue of territorial disputes and the armed conflict that has arisen as a result - Christians, Jews and Arab Muslims have lived in the territory now known as Israel for thousands of years, so in Rabbi Wise's view, conflict will occur although the goal is obviously some kind of peaceful co-existence.

The Rabbi concluded by indicating his pride in his faith and fellow Jews who "punch above their weight" particularly in fields such as medicine, the law, finance and creative arts (e.g. movie making, including writing, producing, directing and acting).

One member asked the Rabbi for his comments on the movie "Unorthodox".  His opinion was that it was good, but that anyone who does watch it should also watch of few episodes of "Shtisel" to get a more balanced view on the lives of Orthodox Jews.

Before joining SBE in 2007, Rabbi Wise spent two years as the assistant Rabbi at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, FL. Rabbi Wise was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in May of 2005, has a BA from the University of Toronto and an MA from Brandeis University.

Rabbi Wise is the chair of the Interfaith Council of Halton, a member of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto, and a member of the Halton Police Service multi-faith taskforce.  Rabbi Wise is an author and speaker on Israel and her role in Tikkun Olam, with his first book “Israel: Repairing the World”.


Rabbi Wise and his wife Cheryl, the director of Education at SBE, have 3 children, Jacob, Talia and Alexa.

Meeting Speaker March 3, 2021

Tom Axworthy, Senior Fellow, Munk Institute


Populism, Trumpism and Extreme Discord: Is Canada Immune?

Thomas S. Axworthy, has had a distinguished career in government, academia, and philanthropy. He served as the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  Mr. Axworthy went into an academic career first at Harvard University and Queens University following his government career.

The topic of Mr. Axworthy’s talk was “Populism, Trumpism and Extreme Discord: Is Canada Immune?”  He covered the background and the current status of populism in the US and Europe and then discussed the effect of this phenomenon in Canada.  Populism is a concept of a political movement which challenges prevailing established political norms.  Populism generally does not take any particular policy position and hence it can have either right or left orientation.  Examples of populism can be found all over the world at different times.  Importantly, populism often threatens the rule of law and liberal democracy and therefore populist leaders try to bend the rules of democracy and weaken checks on democracy. 


There are six drivers of populism in the US and Europe:

  1. Overwhelming change leads to anxiety and fear

  2. Decline of middle class

  3. The info-demic of social media

  4. Immigration: fear of other

  5. Rise of the strongman

  6. Extreme polarization


Too much change can bring about pessimism and a search for something or someone to restore both order and simplicity.  Based on a number of research studies, wages have been stagnant for decades both in the US and Europe.  Globalization has moved supply chains offshore which has been good for corporate profits, shareholders, and the Chinese where 800 million people have moved out of poverty, but it has made lives exceedingly difficult for former high wage workers in the US and Europe.  Wage stagnation and rising costs for key aspects of the middle-class dream challenge optimism and induce stress.  Share of world income growth for the people in East Asia and South Asia went up while the ultra-rich (or is it the middle class?) in Europe and North America went down in the last decade. 


Social media is central to the rise of populism.  Social media allows individual-created content without standards or gatekeepers.  It is the perfect vehicle for spreading misinformation, connecting with the likeminded, organizing and recruiting for those anxious, angry or conspiracy-minded.  Anti-immigration is a staple of populist parties.  People upset with unemployment or wage stagnation blame immigrants for taking jobs. For those worried about tradition or culture immigrants can be framed as an alien threat. In a complicated world, strongman demagogues have a simple message, and that very simplicity helps followers to make sense of what is happening around them.  The relationship is reciprocal:  The strongman understands the values of the base and gains their trust; in turn the base will follow the leader and take their cues from his issue agenda.  Social media then unites the followers into an alternative universe where they engage with each other but no one else.  Populists divide the world into “We versus Them" and such a mind-set can deteriorate into believing that opponents become enemies.  Democracy thrives on debate and sorting out the diverse interests of multiple groups.  Partisanship can become so extreme that compromise becomes difficult and polarization can become so extreme that attaining or staying in power becomes more important than democracy itself.  The United States today is an example of populism going astray and even descending into violence. 


While it is clear that populism is not a dominant feature of the world view of Canadians it is not absent either.  As in other parts of the world many Canadian workers have had wage stagnation and economic anxieties are real especially during Covid.  Interestingly, Canada is the most welcoming country for migrants in the world (Gallup 2020).  Canada has a history of events or outrages similar to the excesses of right-wing populism today.  Of the six drivers of the populism, three apply in Canada (i, ii & iii).  But three drivers are largely absent.  Tom suggests we should not be complacent that only half the drivers apply and should work actively to ensure that extreme populism remains only a possibility.

Meeting Speaker February 3, 2021

Niten Barua, Member Speaker, Probus Club of Old Oakville Ass’t Secretary

Drug Approval Process in Canada and What is Different About Approval of Covid Vaccines

Niten’s biography includes a number of years with various pharmaceutical companies, in the regulatory affairs area, so he is well-qualified to help us with this timely topic.  Niten was responsible for managing Regulatory Affairs (the group responsible for obtaining approval of drugs prior to marketing) & Quality Assurance function for a Pharmaceutical Company for over 17 years.  Niten took lead role for the approval more than a dozen drugs in his regulatory affairs career spanning over 25 years.  Some of the more common drugs Niten was responsible for approval recently are, Xtandi (for Prostate Cancer), Myrbetriq and Vesicare (both for urinary incontinence) and Prograf and Advagraf (for organ rejection after transplant).


Niten covered the basic Food & Drugs Act requirements for selling any drug in Canada, and then explained the modifications to the Act that allow for selling Covid Vaccines.  He then went on to cover the steps involved in developing and marketing a drug, what must be included in the New Drug Submission to Health Canada, and then what the review process looks like.


The main task that a manufacturer has is to apply for and receive a drug identification number (DIN) for any new drug.  That must be received and applied to the product before it may be sold.  In the U.S., when there is a declared emergency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can approve a drug without all the evidence that would fully establish its effectiveness and safety, but companies must continue their clinical trials in order to provide longer term information on safety and effectiveness.  Canada has a similar process, called an Interim Order (IO).  Health Canada will grant authorization on if it determines that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.  Like the U.S., the IO allows the drug to be sold while additional development and testing occurs on the road to market authorization.


Niten then went on to describe the generic drug development process and timeline, from the initial research phase, through Preclinical and Clinical trials, then Evaluation and Approval.  As many as 10,000 compounds might be involved in the research phase which after typically 10 years and an investment of more than $1billion, will result in one approved drug.


The contrast to the typical situation for the development of the Pfizer Covid vaccines is startling.  As an example, the development of the Pfizer vaccine began in January of 2020, clinical trials began in April, and submission for approval by the FDA on November 20, 2020 – more than 10 times faster than the typical process!  New drug submissions’ review timelines in Canada are typically one year, give or take.  So the approval of the Pfizer vaccine in Canada just about one month later than in the U.S. is extraordinarily quick.  The submitter must pay fees to Health Canada as well, which can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  With the submitter’s agreement Health Canada may also collaborate with other international regulatory agencies to fast track the process, sharing analyses and perspectives to supplement Health Canada’s usual processes.  Health Canada has been following this process in the review of all Covid vaccines so far.


All in all, Niten’s talk was an eye-opening window into the cost, time and thoroughness of oversight and review that drug development receives.  He assured us that even though the Covid vaccines are arriving amazingly quickly, they are still subject to all the safety and effectiveness checks that are required.

Meeting Speaker January 6, 2021

Amanda White-PresseySenior Director, Marketing & Communications,

Seasons Seniors Lifestyle LivingOakville Headquarters


The Challenges of Adapting to COVID:  Lessons learned and how will Seniors' Residences look in the future

Amanda White gave us a very interesting presentation focusing on how people should think about changing their housing as they age.  The goal of any changes in lifestyle living should be increased peace of mind.  To that end, she spoke about the real differences between retirement living and long term care.

Retirement living means independent living, but with optional access to housekeeping, meals, activities and care services.  These homes generally are developed by private companies.  Long term care involves access to the highest levels of care, along with 24 hour support, and is typically government funded.  She talked about the types of care, ranging from independent living, independent supported living, assisted living and memory care.  The care required is assessed by a medical professional who provides a detailed report which is updated annually.  The goal is to understand the needs as well as the desires of the client.  These professionals are trained to notice changes in the client as the years go by.

She then went on the discuss several other topics, including when is the right time to move, what are the cost to value considerations, what are the average costs of their facilities, health and safety considerations, as well as precautionary protocols established due to the pandemic.  She then provided  some down-sizing tips, in particular getting rid of your excess stuff while holding on to some of your favourite items.  And especially, don't over-save for others (your heirs?).

Amanda concluded with a discussion of the retirement home of the future.  Seasons is using focus groups to adapt service models and to establish micro-markets within the retired persons population.  They are attempting to be innovative and embrace technology.

Meeting Speaker December 2, 2020


Lianne has been a history, culture and social studies resource specialist with the Toronto District School Board almost 20 years and has been the guest instructor and workshop leader for teachers across many boards in Southern Ontario. To date she has taught over 80 000 teachers and students (usually in authentic
period clothing). In 2003, she was selected by W.O.M.A.D. as one of Toronto’s Women of Influence.

She is the author of many books including two medieval novels and non-fiction books on Bangladesh, India, great women in history, historical clothing and costuming, and world travel photography. She is a contributing author of the Canadian best seller business book, The Power of Women United.

Pursuing her love of art, she has been an exhibiting artist at the Royal Ontario Museum, Roy Thomson Hall, The IDA Gallery, and The Shaw Festival.
Appearing on TV and interviewed many times on the radio, she has been the keynote presenter at many professional, academic and organization events.

Lianne Harris B.A., B.F.A(Ed), T.E.S.L.


Celebrate the season with a refreshing look at the cherished stories and symbols surrounding Christmas. Join Lianne as we go back in time and explore various cultures to better understand the origins, significance, and popularity of our most recognized Christmas motifs and well-loved stories.

Christmas Stories

and Symbols

Meeting Speaker 04 November 2020

Iliana Oris Valiente


Managing Director and Global Blockchain Innovation Lead, Accenture

Iliana Oris Valiente CPA, CA, CBP (Certified Bitcoin Professional) is a managing director at Accenture and the Global Blockchain Innovation Lead for the firm’s emerging tech division. Iliana is responsible for strategy initiatives and overseeing projects to conceptualize and build blockchain solutions across industries, with a focus on FSI, supply chain, healthcare and the public sector. Iliana is also the founder and Chair of ColliderX, the world’s first non-profit, open sourced, and crowdsourced R&D hub for blockchain and related technologies. Iliana is an author and sought-after speaker, regularly presenting at conferences and events around the world.

Iliana will be speaking to us about emerging trends in the world of FinTech.

Meeting Speaker 07 October 2020

Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows photo.jpg

Tim is a retired Vice President of Forty Creek Distillery and a graduate of the University of Toronto where he earned an honours degree in psychology.


Tim has owned and driven battery-electric cars for the past 7 years and has logged over 250,000 kilometres without the need for gasoline or diesel fuel.  He now enjoys sharing his EV experience with others and breaks down many myths and misconceptions about electric vehicle ownership.  Tim makes the case that we are nearing the ‘tipping point’ when electric cars will replace those powered by gasoline.  He also touches on the state of self driving technology and what autonomous cars could mean for the future.


Tim is a member of the Electric Vehicle Society, a non-profit organization which works to promote the understanding and adoption of electric mobility in Canada. In his role there, he chairs the EV Society’s Mississauga Chapter.

Meeting Speaker December 2, 2020

 Consumer Smarts with Ellen Roseman

Ellen Roseman is a journalist who sticks up for ordinary Canadians. She’s a champion at helping consumers fight back against injustices. People praise her direct, down to earth and common-sense writing style.


Ellen’s personal finance and consumer columns appeared in the Toronto Star for 20 years until July 2019.


She was the Star’s business editor for two years. Before that, she was with the Globe and Mail for 20 years as a columnist and associate managing editor of the Report on Business.


She's the author of seven nonfiction books, including Money 101 and Money 201, which give an easy-to-understand introduction to personal finance for Canadians.


Her latest book is: Fight Back: 81 Ways to Help You Save Money and Protect Yourself from Corporate Trickery.


Ellen has been teaching a popular adult education course, Investing for Beginners, at the University of Toronto since 2006. And she is co-chair of the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights, a non-profit charity that speaks for investors.