Thursday, April 21, 2011

Afghanistan's Fawzia Koofi to visit Vancouver

Every once in a while, a rare opportunity comes along to meet someone who is making history; defining the course of people's lives now and for many generations into the future.

One of those people is Fawzia Koofi. While not a household name here in Canada, her actions and leadership are changing the lives of many in Afghanistan. If you believe in the ripple effect, she's changing lives here too. A well-known activist for democracy and human rights, she's one of the growing number of Afghan women who are standing up to fight for their future, in a society often warped by tradition and war. 

Condoleeza Rice with Fawzia Koofi
She's Afghanistan's most popular female politician, and the first female Deputy Speaker of the Parliament in her country. She was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and will run for President of Afghanistan in 2014. That is, if she can survive the extremists that dominate politics in this region. She's challenged Hamid Karzai to take a stronger position on human rights before conceding to Taliban insurgents - resulting in the murder of one of her aides just months ago and numerous attempts on her own life. 

She's coming to Vancouver on June 6th to talk about Afghanistan, politics, religion, and her own, very personal experiences. I'm thrilled to be hosting her for two events that day: 

Lunch at the Vancouver Club - REGISTER HERE
11:45 am - 1:45 pm
For the business crowd at lunch, her presentation will focus on the political dynamics at play inside Afghanistan; where the country is headed as involvement from the international community evolves. 

What forces are shaping the political leadership - how influential are the religious extremists? What is the relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbours? How do these dynamics influence us in the West, in terms of energy, security, and economics? 

If you're downtown, this is a great opportunity to host your colleagues and clients for a stimulating presentation. More information and registration details for the lunch event are here.

An Evening at the Kay Meek Centre - REGISTER HERE
7:30 - 9:00 pm
In the evening, I will be hosting her for a larger public event at the Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver. We'll have a little more time, so she'll be broadening her talk to include more of her personal experiences as detailed in her recently published memoir Letters to My Daughters.

"In it, Ms. Koofi describes unflinchingly the wreckage she witnessed at the hands of Afghans of all ideologies and clans: the domestic violence that was a mundane part of family life, gang rape, the burning of a Kabul mosque where dozens of women had sought shelter during the civil war, and the public humiliation and beatings meted out casually by the Taliban."  - An excerpt from a recent Globe & Mail article.

More information and details about how to register for the evening event are here, but read on for a small preview of her story:

On the day Fawzia Koofi was born, her mother set her under the blazing Afghanistan sun to die. The 19th child of 23 in a family with seven wives, her mother did not want another daughter. Despite severe burns that lasted into her teenage years, Koofi survived and became the favourite child.

In Letters to My Daughters, Koofi tells her remarkable life story, one marked by a fierce passion to better the world around her. Koofi''s father was an incorruptible politician strongly attached to Afghan tradition. When he was murdered by the mujahadeen, her illiterate mother decided to send the ten year-old girl to school, and as the civil war raged, Koofi dodged bullets and snipers to attend class, determined to be the first person in her family to receive an education.

Koofi went on to marry a man she loved and they had two cherished daughters, Shohra and Shaharzad. Tragically, the arrival of the Taliban spelled an end to her freedom. Outraged and deeply saddened by the injustice she saw around her, and by the tainting of her Islamic faith, she discovered politics herself.

And thinking about her upcoming visit, this quote really struck me:

"Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people."
Henry Miller

I hope to see you in June!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

An evening with John Weston & Jason Kenney

Well, we're officially off to the races!

Thank you so much to everyone who attended the reception with our local MP John Weston and Jason Kenney, Minister of Immigration, at my home on March 11th. It was great to connect with everyone, hear the updates from the hill, and have some fun!

Thanks so much to Cat Barr for capturing some photo highlights from the event and posting them in the March 17th North Shore Outlook. Great to see Conservatives having a good time!

We have a lot of work to do to get John re-elected, and a great new office space to work from. Pop down for a visit at 2429 Marine Drive in West Vancouver. To find out how you can get involved as a volunteer - fundraising, signs, get-out-the-vote etc., please contact Catharine Johnston at or April Accola at

And all of the signs, phone systems, mailings etc. cost a lot of money. Please donate today to help us win the election! All donations are tax receiptable according to CRA guidelines:

See you on the campaign trail!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Its Time to Change the Culture of Entitlement

Thank you so much to those of you who came out to our lunch with Bill Gairdner, author of The Trouble with Canada...Still. My apologies to those of you who weren't able to attend - I had a technical glitch with our recording and so haven't been able to put up a podcast on my iTunes channel. But I've learned my lesson!

Anyway, for those of you who are still looking for a copy of his book, I've just checked and it looks like there are 7 left in the lower mainland - 6 at the Broadway and Granville store and 1 at Brentwood Mall. I'm still waiting for the copy that I ordered on-line : ) We've hooked Bill up with another possible publisher and so we shall await some good news that he is back up and running, and in print again.

I've been thinking a lot about Bill's message about changing the culture of entitlement, and agree that that is where we all need to focus our efforts. As politicians clearly have no incentive to say no to those who ask them for money, the only hope that we have is to change the culture of popular opinion, which in turn may change the policy platfoms from which governments operate.

Perhaps now is a good time for us all to work on those within our circle of influence to encourage more understanding around the appropriate role of government, and how everyone would benefit by government pulling out of programs it should not be involved in (and aren't very good at). This would allow more room for the private sector, community groups, and volunteers to stake a greater role in building the kind of compassionate society we all want to live in.

On that note, Dambisa Moyo's latest book "How the West Was Lost" outlines how our culture of entitlement (and the mis-guided policies that support it) have harmed our economies nearly beyond repair, when compared with the relative success and high growth rates of China, India, and others. You can order your copy of her book at, and if you're interested in attending our next event with her on April 4th, you can register through

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist

Yesterday at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, I met two of the last seven surviving Northern White Rhinos in the whole entire world. They looked pretty lonely and were a sobering reminder to me of how delicate our natural environment can be. I left with a lump in my throat and softened heart. 

I can only imagine the passion for our planet that must have pulsed through Patrick Moore and his co-founders when they started Greenpeace 40 years ago. Had I been alive then, and of an age to be swept up in the movement, I probably would have signed up with on. 

Patrick Moore vs. whalers
Many of their campaigns championed important ideas, and provided education to a world in need of some wake-up calls. But something's happened to the organization - their agenda now seems anti-science, anti-business, and sometimes, anti-human. 

Dr. Moore left 15 years after co-founding Greenpeace to establish a more sensible, science-based approach to environmentalism. His new book Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of A Sensible Environmentalist gives his first-hand account as an insider and witness to how the group devolved into extremism. 

He envisions a more sustainable world by using practical and straightforward solutions to some of the most controversial subjects in the news today - energy independence, climate change, genetic engineering, and aquaculture. He even supports nuclear power in the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis.

In the midst of his busy book tour (if I couldn't host him now, his next availability was June!), he's making the time to join us for lunch and to discuss some of his ideas. I hope you'll join us!

"Patrick’s great talent is his ability to clearly set out the environmental challenges we face and identify innovative solutions that fully take into account both people and the environment… In these challenging times, I think that’s exactly the kind of environmental leadership people are looking for." 
Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City

"Former colleagues in the environmental movement scorned and shunned Dr. Moore, after he left Greenpeace… He is a tough minded scientist and an advocate for sound scientific research, policy, and practical, sustainable development." 
Dr. Terry Simmons, Greenpeace co-founder

Friday, April 8, 2011
The Vancouver Club
UBC/SFU Room, 3rd Floor
11:45 am - Casual sandwich buffet
12:15 pm - Serious intellectual stimulation
1:30 pm - Back to work!
Register here
*You will be directed to the Bon Mot Book Club site, please note this is not a Bon Mot Book Club event

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Trouble with Canada...Still!

One of the things I love the most is to debate ideas - especially about politics, economics, and current affairs. I'm interested in all points of view as long as the ground rules of respect and open-mindedness are there.

I've known Bill Gairdner for a number of years, and although we don't see eye-to-eye on everything, what I appreciate about him the most is that he cares a lot about our country and isn't afraid to put forth controversial ideas for discussion. I believe its important to think outside the boundaries of political correctness - perhaps only to reinforce your belief system or perhaps to stretch and test it.

Twenty years ago (okay, just a little before I was fully engaged in policy discussions), he published a book called The Trouble with Canada. He's now updated his best-seller to once again look at:

-Why are our taxes so high?
-Why is our National Debt so high?
-Why are earnings of immigrants so low?
-Why is our rate of police-reported criminal incidents among the highest in the world?
-Why do we allow politicians to control our health care?
-Does bilingualism discriminate against Anglophones?
-Is multiculturalism supporting diversity or tribalism?
-Is the judiciary making laws instead of applying them?

He proposes that Canada is caught between two irreconcilable styles of government: a top-down collectivism and a bottom-up individualism. Do you agree? I hope that you'll join me for lunch to discuss and debate his positions on these topics!

William Gairdner has had a busy life as an Olympic athlete, an academic, a businessman, and now as a successful writer. After earning a number of higher degrees, including a Ph.D in Literature and Philosophy from Stanford University, he taught at York University. He then pursued a career in business from which he retired to devote his time to writing. 

Bill was then the managing editor of Canada's Founding Debates - now a historical landmark. His published books have included The Trouble with Democracy, The Book of Absolutes, The War Against the Family, Constitutional Crack-Up: Canada and the Showdown with Quebec, and After Liberalism.

"If it is not already so, Canada is in danger of becoming a Tripartite State in which one third of the people works to create wealth, one third works for government at some level, and another third depends on government for a significant portion of its income. Anyone can see that the last two segments will always gang up on the first."    - William Gairdner

Copies of The Trouble with Canada...Still! will be on sale at the event, but if you'd like to get a copy in advance, you can order from Chapters here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
Cheakamus Room, Concourse level
11:45 am  Registration & casual sandwich buffet
12:15 pm  Serious intellectual stimulation
1:30 pm    Back to work!

REGISTER NOW* Advance registration only - this link will also take you to the Bon Mot Book Club site (please note this is a separate event from that series)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lunch with Calvin Helin discussing "The Economic Dependency Trap"

Over forty years ago my parents moved to a small native reserve in northern Alberta to teach in a one room schoolhouse. They taught as best they could, but spent much of their time helping the kids survive the abuse and extreme poverty rampant in the community. Forty years later that generation has grown up, but not much else has changed.

A few years ago I met native lawyer Calvin Helin who opened my eyes to the scope of  harm caused by government-sponsored poverty. He wants to change these circumstances, and if anyone can, I'd place my bets on him. With a gentle spirit and a passionate intellect, this six times best-selling author of Dances with Dependency: Out of Poverty through Self-Reliance, has become quite the force as an outspoken advocate for aboriginal empowerment.

I've asked him to join me for lunch at the Vancouver Club to discuss his latest project
The Economic Dependency Trap, and sign some copies of his book. I hope you'll join me, but do come prepared to be swept up in his revolution!
Calvin Helin

The Economic Dependency Trap:
Breaking Free to Self-Reliance
From urban public housing projects to impoverished reservations, middle class suburban neighbourhoods to Bay Street, economic dependency has become a serious pandemic. Just what is economic dependency? It is the inability to become financially self-reliant, because government programs aren't just a temporary help - they're a permanent crutch. Today, economic dependency has become a way of life for millions of North Americans.

In the US,
approximately 20 percent of the population relies on the government for daily housing, food, and health care, and one in six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program. Most troubling of all, one out of every five children is now living in poverty.

But Calvin Helin - attorney, entrepreneur, and recognized authority on poverty, not only wants to expose this reality, he wants to reverse it.

"Calvin Helin's epic study of dependence and the physical, mental, as well as spiritual harm it spreads among its victims is a revolutionary document. A leading First Nations lawyer, the son of a fisherman, and very much a self-made intellectual and reluctant advocate, Calvin speaks for his people from the heart and from the gut. The collected wisdom in this book will lift the burden and let the sunshine in."           - Peter C. Newman
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The Vancouver Club
UBC Room, 3rd Floor
11:45 am  Registration & casual sandwich buffet
12:15 pm  Serious intellectual stimulation
1:30 pm    Back to work!
REGISTER NOW* Advance registration only - this link will also take you to the Bon Mot Book Club site - please note this is a separate event from that series :