Monday, November 16th to Thursday, November 19th

Agility, Evolution, and Resilience

Public Affairs is critical during this period of intense change and uncertainty in our society, politics, and business. Our professional and personal worlds have collided as we navigate living and leading through a long-term pandemic. Organizations are addressing internal and external pressures critical to business continuity and market success. We must rethink old strategies and learn new digital tools to navigate the “new normal” alongside our clients, government, and stakeholders.

It is the role of Public Affairs professionals, both government relations practitioners and communicators, to counsel their organizations through issues and crisis. Keen awareness of the external environment, agility and change management are elements for success during this period. As professionals, we are in a unique position -- as we help our clients and organizations navigate crisis, we are also learning and needing to be resilient ourselves.

Join PAAC’s 2020 conference for the connections, insights, and knowledge to energize you and your team. We will tackle these challenges described from all sides, leaving you more prepared to lead in this dynamic period. Our guest speakers and hosts from across the country will share their expertise, answer your questions, and inform our thinking through lively and interactive sessions.  


Day 1: Monday, November 16th
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm EST, 10:00 am to 11:15 am MST, 9:00 am to 10:15 am PST

Lemonade from Lemons: Seizing Opportunity in the Midst of Crisis
Speaker:  Andrew House, Counsel, Co-Leader. National Security at FASKEN

Crisis has always driven innovation and opportunity. In times of war, economic depression, and pandemic, the resulting chaos has created fertile ground for change that would not otherwise have come. Since March of 2020, Canadians have existed in a state of grinding
uncertainty -- escape from which is not immediately certain. Businesses have been forced to transform the ways in which they market, operate, and interact with customers; individuals have had to face tough questions about how they fit into “the new normal”. The study of those who have risen to the occasion vs. those who have faltered provides a playbook that can only be written in dark days.

Join Andrew House, Counsel at Fasken LLP, for a discussion on career, calamity, and resilience as he traces his own path through crisis --international and domestic—and offers a roadmap for building a career that thrives in uncertainty. In a world that continues to
deliver disappointment and disorder, it’s more crucial than ever to seize opportunities for leadership and service that won’t come again.

Andrew House practises at Fasken in the areas of Foreign Investment, Government Relations, and Political Law with a focus on the impact of national and cyber security considerations in federally-regulated  industries  and  transactions.  For  over  two  decades,  Andrew  has  provided strategic and  legal advice to corporate leaders, policy-makers,  and cabinet  members.  Andrew served  from  2010  to  2015  as  Chief  of  Staff  to  successive  ministers  of  Public  Safety  & Emergency Preparedness, working with his team to manage some of the most critical files facing the Government of Canada.
Day 2: Tuesday, November 17th
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm EST, 10:00 am to 11:15 am MST, 9:00 am to 10:15 am PST

Perception versus Reality: Which Matters Most in Pandemic?
Greg Lyle, President and Founder, Innovative Research Group
Rebekah Young, Director, Fiscal and Provincial Economics, Scotiabank

Greg Lyle, President and Founder, Innovative Research Group
Greg is the founder and President of Innovative Research Group. As its founder, Greg leads Innovative’s mission to evolve market research practices by transforming the latest developments in academia into proprietary models that deliver actionable insights. As President, Greg oversees Innovative’s methodical best practices and acts as the Lead Methodologist on projects across the organization.

As a former Principal Secretary, Greg has built a career at the intersection of public policy, communications and public opinion. With over 30 years of communications and opinion research experience, Greg uses a full range of research tools for a variety of government and corporate clients across industries such as financial services, healthcare and the energy and infrastructure sector.  

Greg’s research has been highlighted in media across the country.  He has been featured in many media outlets including Global TV, the Globe and Mail, the Hill Times, the National Post and various other PostMedia Network newspapers. In 2016, Greg received the Public Affairs Association of Canada Award of Distinction.  
Rebekah Young, Director, Fiscal and Provincial Economics, Scotiabank
Rebekah joined Scotiabank in February 2019 as Director, Fiscal and Provincial Economics. Prior to joining Scotiabank, Rebekah worked at the executive board of IMF. She was also a senior official at the federal Department of Finance in Ottawa working on a range of topics, from development economics, to the federal budget, to green finance issues.  Rebekah leads our work on provincial and federal economic and fiscal forecasts, public policy issues, and the global auto sector.  

She holds a B.A. in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, an M.Sc. in Environmental Policy from the London School of Economics in London England, and an MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and Singapore.

Day 3: Wednesday, November 18th
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EST, 10:00 am to 11:30 am MST, 9:00 am to 10:30 am PST

Women in Public Affairs

The Intersectionality of Women in Public Affairs, Media and Public Dialogue
The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion

PAAC Bronze Leadership Partner, Sussex Strategy

Heather Bakken, Publisher Vice President Business Development of iPolitics & QP Briefing

Nadine Spencer, CEO of Brand EQ Group Inc. and
President/CEO of the Black Business and Professional Association

Leanne Hall, CEO, Creative Fire

Dr. Wendy Cukier, Diversity Institute Founder, Academic Director of the Women
Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and Research Lead, Future Skills Centre.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women.  This has been further amplified for those who dedicate their careers to the public affairs, public policy and media across Canada. As they serve, protect and advocate for their clients, organizations and Canadians to navigate they crisis; they too are surmounting challenges and opportunities themselves. In addition, several global events related to race and social injustice have created a pivotal moment for public affairs leaders to not just talk the talk but walk the walk.  

From corporate social responsibility, media, marketing, public relations, and beyond, diversity and inclusion is not only important for teams themselves but also for developing strategies and messaging that speak to all segments of the population. As communities and organizations become more diverse, we need team members and leaders who can authentically communicate with different segments of society.

The Public Affairs Association of Canada’s Women in Public Affairs (WIPA) Committee is proud to present a critical conversation that will explore the intersectionality of women in public affairs, media and public dialogue.  

Part of the proceeds of this session will be donated to a charity that supports women.

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm EST; 11:40 am to 12:40 pm MST, 10:40 am to 11:40 am PST

Resilience & Wellness with Lydia Di Francesco: Building resilience to stress

On average, leading firms report productivity falls by -8.1% due to stress among management. During Covid, businesses are reporting that the effects of stress induced illnesses have led to a -11%  in productivity, even with a 10% increase in working hours among management. The concept of “work-life balance”  is arguably nullified as we adjust to 100% remote work. The direct impacts of increased stress felt by leaders in both the public and private sector include trouble sleeping, losing focus quickly, changes in diet and spikes in agitation. These common symptoms of stress have negative impacts on both work and private life.  

The high level of unpredictability in these times causes increased stress and impacts both your wellness and quality of work. The Building Stress Resilience presentation, designed specifically for business leaders, will help attendee's learn how to improve wellness by better managing increased stress levels. Lydia will share 12 scientifically proven techniques and tools including the number one way to immediately lower stress levels that attendees can do anywhere, anytime.  

Lydia Di Francesco, CEO and Employee Wellness Consultant Fit + Healthy 365
Lydia Di Francesco is the CEO and Employee Wellness Consultant at Fit + Healthy 365. Lydia has worked in the wellness industry for over 8 years. Her corporate clients include: Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), Economic and Social Development Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED, various branches/sectors), Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA), Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Entertainment One, Wave, Infovista, TechInsights, Running Room, Banfield Agency, Measurement Canada, and United Way.

Lydia holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Ottawa and is a Wellness Coach, Stress-Reduced Fat Loss™ Practitioner, and Certified Personal Trainer. Lydia is a weekly radio host of a wellness segment on CHIN Radio Ottawa and a regular TV guest expert on CTV and Rogers TV and has been published in national and local magazines.  

Day 4: Thursday, November 19th
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm EST, 10:00 am to 11:15 am MST, 9:00 am to 10:15 am PST

2020 Award of Distinction Presentation and Remarks

Laura Dawson, Principal Program Manager (Americas) at Amazon Web Services Institute at Amazon Web Services

Digital policy in an analog world – Canada’s great equalizer?

Laura's remarks will touch on Canada’s competitiveness in the world, how technology can act as an accelerant, and how smart policy can help Canada to punch above its weight in the global marketplace.

Laura Dawson is a Principal Program Manager at the AWS Institute, working to accelerate government digital transformation using cloud technology. She has more than twenty years’ experience working with government and policy leaders from around the world:  building connections across boundaries, sharing stories, and helping to advance new ideas and practices. She is perhaps best known for her advocacy work on behalf of the Canada-United States relationship, logging thousands of miles every year to help businesses and governments understand better their cross-border counterparts.

As Director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, she worked with decision makers from the United States and Canada on issues such as the Canada-United States-Mexico Trade Agreement(NAFTA 2.0), border security, defense and competitiveness. Previously, she was  Senior Economic Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Canada where she helped to launch bilateral regulatory, trade and border cooperation initiatives. Laura began her career as an economic development advisor, working with national and multilateral aid organizations in more than twenty-five countries around the world on WTO issues. She is also the founder of Dawson Strategic, an economic policy research firm based in Vancouver, which provides information and advice to governments and businesses.  She holds a PhD in political science and is a member of the teaching faculty at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.


1:30 pm to 2:30 pm EST; 11:30 am to 12:30 pm MST, 10:30 am to 11:30 am PST

Pundits Panel and Close
Speakers: TBA

Full Conference Rates:
PAAC/GRIC members $70.00 +HST
Guests $100.00 +HST
Students $30.00 +HST

Register today
for this conference series of engaging, timely and provocative discussions and guest speakers.

A special thank you to all our guests and generous partners who have brought our virtual 2020 conference to life.
Register Here