Conversations with Power
Experience lectures from our archive.
Established in 1903, as a response to Canadian political unrest, the Empire Club ofCanada (ECC) quickly became a leading speakers’ forum. Beginning with speeches to address Canada’s relationships with the British Empire and the United States, the ECCcontinues to tackle issues that affect the lives of Canadians.
The club invites speakers to present various perspectives—including those that may not be popular but should be heard. Since its inception, the ECC has hosted 3500prominent Canadian and international leaders, including Prince Edward, the Prince ofWales (later Edward VIII), Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Audrey Hepburn,Margaret Mead, Christopher Plumber, Roberta Bondar, Maureen Forrester, AdrienneClarkson, Margaret Thatcher, Vladamir Putin and Bill Gates, to name but a few. Topics encompass business, politics, education, trade, labour, culture, international issues, as well as, other relevant topics that emerge.
Get up close and personal to the most relevant issues of the day and network with other like minded members.
Topic: Transit Development
Phil Verster is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Metrolinx. He oversees a team committed to transforming transportation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Prior to joining Metrolinx, Phil managed train operations, infrastructure builds and infrastructure management for passenger rail systems in England, Scotland and Ireland.
Phil began his career in his native South Africa in the electricity sector. He then spent several years in the UK at Bombardier Rail and at Irish Rail. In 2011, Phil joined Britain’s Network Rail where he managed the second largest route in the system. He then ran Scotland’s ScotRail passenger rail service, and served as Managing Director of Network Rail’s East West Railway.
Phil joined Metrolinx in October 2017. His comprehensive knowledge and extensive transit background has equipped him with the necessary tools Metrolinx requires to continue working towards delivering an integrated, regional transportation system that will serve the needs of residents and businesses for years to come.
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A Federal Election Panel featuring New Influencers, Moderated by Toronto Sun’s Adrienne Batra
It’s not just the main political parties that are getting ready for the upcoming federal election. There are a wide range of groups aiming to contribute to the conversation in fresh and new ways, with the goal of helping to win over the hearts and minds of Canadians. These new voices are redefining how advocacy will be practiced in the most digital and viral Federal campaign yet.
The Empire Club of Canada presents this panel of leading players from across the political spectrum to talk about the coming election, the tools that will be important for engagement, and the issues that will matter most. Their respective groups aspire to redefine how organizations engage with Canadians and significantly impact the choices voters make at the ballot box.
Taylor Scollon is a co-founder of North99, an independent advocacy group dedicated to advancing progressive policies and ideas in Canada. With over 100,000 members and reaching millions of Canadians each month with a progressive message, North99 is one of the largest progressive communities in the country.
Jeff Ballingall is founder of Ontario Proud, BC Proud and Canada Proud, three of the most popular and engaged Facebook pages in Canadian news and politics. His company, Mobilize Media Group, specializes in compelling social media content that influences public opinion and rallies voters. Jeff has extensive experience in digital public affairs and politics, with previous employment with Navigator Ltd., Sun Media, Toronto City Hall and Parliament Hill.
Rick Smith is a Canadian author and non-profit leader. Since 2013 he has been the Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute. Under his leadership the Institute has grown into Canada’s pre-eminent progressive policy and training organization with offices in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. The Institute’s media project, PressProgress, is now the best-read source of progressive news and analysis in the country, reaching millions of Canadians every year.
From 2003 to 2012, Rick served as Executive Director of Environmental Defence Canada. He is the co-author of two bestselling books on the health effects of pollution: “Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxicity of Everyday Life Affects Our Health (2009, re-issued in 2019) and Toxin Toxout (2014). A Quill & Quire “Book of the Year”, “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” has been featured by the Washington Post, Dr. Oz, Fox News, and Oprah Magazine, and translated into seven languages.
Rick has led many campaigns for important new public policies at the federal and provincial levels related to environmental and consumer protection, urban planning, green jobs creation, democratic reform and progressive taxation. He is a co-founder of Blue Green Canada (an environmental/trade union movement collaboration) and the Socially and Environmentally Responsible Aggregate initiative, the first attempt in the world to create a green standard for the vertically integrated aggregate and cement industry.
Originally from Montreal, he holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Guelph. He has been a Director of Équiterre, a founding Director of the Greenbelt Foundation, and is a former member of the Panel of Environment and Sustainable Development Advisors for the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Canada. Rick is a regular commentator on progressive politics for Canadian media and an adviser to Loblaw Companies Limited, the largest food and pharmacy manufacturer and retailer in the country.
Rick lives in east end Toronto with his wife Jennifer Story — a public school board Trustee — and their two children.
Christine Van Geyn joined the CTF as Ontario Director in 2015. Prior to joining CTF, Christine practiced commercial litigation and corporate law in Toronto with some of Canada’s leading law firms. Christine has also worked for various non-profits, including the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, and she was an intern with the CTF too many years ago for her to admit.
Christine served as a political organizer and campaign manager for several political candidates, and was a communications aide in the federal government. Her research has been published in a number of economic policy and legal magazines. Christine is the winner of a number of International legal skills competitions, including the Skadden Foreign Direct Investment Moot, the International Criminal Law Moot in The Hague, and she placed third in Canada in the Davies Securities Law Moot.
Christine graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with an Honours BA in political science and ethics. She graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School with a J.D., and also attended New York University School of Law.
Christine lives in Toronto, and she enjoys sailing, yoga, skiing, coffee, and her pet Keeshond.
Adrienne Batra was born and raised in Saskatchewan. She has an undergraduate degree in political science and a Masters in Public Administration.
Ms. Batra worked at the Saskatchewan Legislature as a researcher with the opposition caucus office. She then moved on to be the Manitoba Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canada’s largest taxpayer advocacy group.
In 2010, Ms. Batra was the Director of Communications for the Rob Ford for Mayor campaign and moved on to serve in the Office of the Mayor as Ford’s Press Secretary.
Upon leaving City Hall, she became the Comment Editor and columnist for the Toronto Sun and political commentator on Newstalk 1010.
Ms. Batra hosted her own TV show on Sun News Network, focussed on political, social and economic issues. In June of 2015, Ms. Batra was appointed as the Editor in Chief of the Toronto Sun and 24Hours Toronto.
She has appeared on Fox Business News, CNN and BBC and is a frequent contributor on Global News and CTV News Channel, CBC, CP24 and AM640.
Ms. Batra also served in the Canadian Armed Forces, obtaining the rank of Lieutenant, and was nominated for a YWCA Woman of Distinction award. In 2013 she was awarded with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and serves on the Board of Governors for the National Newspaper Awards and the Canadian Journalism Foundation.