Leadership

Women Trail Blazers

March 8, 2022

Linda was a rare bird. Not only was she the only other female candidate at my first-all candidates meeting, but she was also the rarest of creatures, a female incumbent. In 164 years, only six women had ever served on city council in the community, and she was one of them. In 1917, social activist and suffragette Hannah “Annie” Gale...

Local governments as social innovators

May 15, 2017

We need more local governments and utilities acting as social innovators in community energy planning and implementation. This is a brand new role for local governments in many ways. For most of their existence, local government in Canada has served as a vehicle to deliver provincial services.  That is why they are often called “creatures of the province”.  Overall, this has not...

Acts of leadership: change the channel

November 14, 2016

Donald Trump does not believe in climate change.  Sadly, he won’t be the first or the last.  But, as a head of state in 2016, he is the last man standing.  At least for the time being.  And that is discouraging. While it might be harder than he thinks to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the confusion and uncertainty he will...

Rhyze Academy: Mentoring Women Entrepreneurs

October 31, 2016

  I recently signed up to be a mentor with the Rhyze Academy.  At first I hesitated because an earlier experience with a mentoring program wasn’t entirely positive. I am so glad I did because this time the experience has been completely different. Knowledge Sharing The mentoring relationship began with an assessment of how mentees and mentors seek and interpret knowledge, and how...

We get the governance culture we design

October 5, 2016

The way we distribute the value of our water resources is at the heart of the debate about water takings in Ontario. Whose needs take precedence?  Those of a corporation or the public? Most people don’t think they are interested in the topic of governance.  But we talk about it all the time. Creating value is the goal of good...

Basic Annual Income lifts more than living standards

September 26, 2016

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) will soon release updated findings for 2015. In preparation, they recently brought together individuals with experience in each of the eight wellbeing domains. Together, we explored the connections between domains and what new policies  would give the greatest lift for Canadians. Basic Annual Income quickly rose to the top.  The positive impact on Living Standards was clear.  ...

Sustainability is a disruptor

August 29, 2016

Sustainability is a disruptor because it fundamentally challenges the way we live, work and play. Many of the systems that have evolved over the last century promote short-term decision making.  These systems tend to put aside the consideration of broader social, economic and environmental impacts. Climate change, and the externalized costs associated with the release of carbon into the atmosphere, is a good...

Elephants in the room

June 28, 2016

Positive Energy hosted a workshop recently on public confidence in energy decision processes.  The conversation focused on public authorities because energy regulators are struggling to engage communities and civil society. The organizers introduced several “elephants” into the room because new social forces are impacting traditional decision processes.  These forces impact many sectors not just the energy world. The list began with the...

Our Common Future

March 24, 2016

There was an obituary in the Globe and Mail yesterday celebrating the remarkable contribution of a Canadian civil servant to global thinking on sustainable development and climate change.  His name was Jim MacNeill and he was one of the authors of Our Common Future published in 1987. This was an important report in my life and for many people around me at the time. It certainly...

Solution-focused leadership

March 13, 2016

Someone recently sent me this great graphic about the difference between a boss and a leader.  Personally, I would say “tyrant” rather than “boss” because they are very hard on an organization. I  have also seen this management style referred to as “toxic leadership” in management books. I can think of many stories that are illustrative of these behaviours and their...

Defending democracy

March 5, 2016

Over the years, I was asked many times: “what does a mayor do?” My most common response was to talk about the activities of a mayor – attending meetings, answering constituent questions and joining the community in celebrating special events. Sometimes though, I would answer with what I came to understand was my first and foremost function as a mayor: to...

Boom-bust city building

January 22, 2016

We are an urban nation so city building is a big part of nation building. When the resource economy is in trouble, we become diligent city builders.  When the resource economy is thriving, not so much. The Prime Minister has signaled that we can expect an accelerated infrastructure stimulus program.  The Bank of Canada has hinted that a bigger-than-expected deficit would be...

Emerging energy professionals

January 4, 2016

I taught my first class today on Community, Energy and Planning.  I am feeling lucky to have this opportunity to spend time with emerging energy professionals as they embark on their careers and follow their passion to build a more sustainable future. Graduate students in the Masters of Environmental Studies and Planning programs at York University are enrolled in the class. It is an...