Convention Speaker Biographies


Alan Gregg

Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 12:00pm E.T.

Allan Gregg is one of Canada’s most recognized and respected senior research professionals and social commentators.

From 1979 through 1993, Gregg was known as the official pollster of the Progressive Conservative Party and participated in more than 50 central election campaigns on three continents. In 1995, he co-founded The Strategic Counsel, a research partnership he left in 2007. That year, he set out on his own to form Allan Gregg Strategies, offering high-end, value added, research-based consulting and communications advice to private and public sector clients. He also returned to roots as chairman of Harris/Decima, a company he founded almost 30 years earlier, and that has recently merged with the fastest growing research firm in the world. Gregg is a pioneer in the integration of consulting, public-opinion research, public affairs and communications.

Gregg not only has an intimate knowledge of the dynamics of policy making, but a deep understanding of cultural change and the communications processes necessary to forge a public consensus around government and business initiatives. Much sought after for his analysis and as a public speaker, he is widely published and quoted. He is a regular participant on CBC’s At Issue panel on Thursday nights, is the host of the popular and respected TVO talk show – Allan Gregg In Conversation With — as well as a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines.

Gregg is also an entrepreneur with diverse interests. He was a founding shareholder of Canada’s children’s network, YTV, chairman of Toronto Film Festival, current chair of the Walrus Foundation (publisher of 2007 Magazine of the Year, The Walrus) and has executive produced documentary television as well as recordings by Canadian artists such as The Tragically Hip, The Watchmen and Big Wreck. Corporately, he serves on General Motors of Canada’s Advisory Board and the Bank of Montreal’s Advisory Council on Retirement.

Naomi Klein

Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 4:30pm E.T.


Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author two international best sellers: The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. Both sold more than one million copies and were printed in more than two dozen languages. The Shock Doctrine appeared on multiple ‘best of year’ lists, including as a New York Times Critics’ Pick of the Year. Klein’s first book, No Logo, was called “a movement bible” by the New York Times, while Time Magazine named it as one of the Top 100 non-fiction books published since 1923 and The Literary Review of Canada named it one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever published.

In 2007, a six-minute companion film to The Shock Doctrine was an Official Selection of the Venice Biennale, San Sebastien and Toronto International Film Festivals. A feature-length documentary Shock Doctrine premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. In 2004, Naomi Klein wrote The Take, a documentary about Argentina’s occupied factories co-produced with director Avi Lewis. It won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the American Film Institute’s Film Festival.

Naomi Klein is a contributing editor for Harper’s, reporter for Rolling Stone, and a syndicated columnist. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostNewsweek, The Los Angeles TimesThe Globe and MailEl Pais,L’Espresso and The New Statesman, among many others.

She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics and holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia.

She is currently working on a book and film on climate change and political transformation.

Ken Georgetti

Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 9:30am E.T.


Ken Georgetti’s career has taken him from pipefitter and shop steward to president of the Canadian Labour Congress, and from being ordered to face seditious conspiracy charges for leading a general strike to being awarded the Order of Canada for service to the labour and the community.

Georgetti comes from a family of union activists in Trail, BC. Elected at age 46 in May 1999 as the youngest president in the CLC’s history, Georgetti is now the longest-serving president since the CLC was established in 1956. Under his leadership, the CLC membership has grown by 750,000 new union members to 3.3 million workers.

During his 13 years as president of the British Columbia Federation of Labour, Georgetti was known as an innovative and outspoken leader. The federation’s membership more than doubled – from 218,000 in 1986 when he was elected to 450,000 members.

Ken helped did all that by modernizing both the CLC and the BC Federation of Labour, ensuring that labour was more representative of the face of the workforce by actively promoting women, visible minorities and youth.

Georgetti holds key positions with several international organizations, including the International Trade Union Confederation, where he chairs its Committee on Workers’ Capital, and is a member of the Trade Union Advisory Committee at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In Canada, Ken has founded the Shareholder Association for Research and Education, or SHARE, which advocates for shareholder action, and the Columbia Institute, which fosters innovative community leadership and research.

Georgettie’s contributions earned him the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service, the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. In 2011, he was named a Life Literacy Ambassador by ABC Life Literacy Canada.

Mary Walsh

Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 11:00am E.T.


Mary Walsh, one of Canada’s most popular entertainers, learned early to use humour to deal with a difficult childhood. Raised in St. John’s, Nfld., by an aunt and uncle after her own home was found too damp, Walsh got her show business start as a summer radio announcer for the CBC. That led to a part in a local play, then a spot with the Newfoundland Travelling Theatre Company.

After studying acting at Ryerson, Walsh and others from NTTC put on Cod on a Stick at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille. It was such a hit that CBC recorded it for radio in 1974, and the group, now called Codco, toured the play around Newfoundland and Labrador.

Walsh’s TV debut was the 1979 CBC mini-series Up at Ours, set in a St. John’s boarding house. In 1986, Walsh and the rest of Codco starred in independent film The Adventures of Faustus Bidgood, and from 1988 to 1993, Codco members wrote, produced and starred in a self-titled series on CBC. Walsh won Best Supporting Actress at the 1992 Atlantic Film Festival for Secret Nation.

Walsh created This Hour Has 22 Minutes for CBC, a satirical take on current affairs that has won many Gemini and Canadian Comedy awards since its 1992 debut. Walsh has also won two Geminis (writing and performance) for her series, Hatching, Matching and Dispatching.

Film credits include New Waterford Girl (another Genie nomination), Violet, Mambo italiano and Geraldine’s Fortune. Walsh co-wrote and appeared in Young Triffie, a dark comedy. In 2009, Walsh earned another Genie nomination for her starring role in Crackie.

Walsh has honorary degrees from Memorial and Trent universities. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2000 and in 2012 received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.

Lorraine Segato

Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 4:30pm E.T.

For 36 years, Lorraine Segato’s extensive work as a musician, songwriter, filmmaker, event producer, artistic director, speechwriter, lecturer and social justice activist have made her one of Canada’s leading cultural commentators and best-known recording artists.

As co-founder and lead singer of The Parachute Club, one of the most critically lauded and commercially successful groups of the 80s, Segato enjoyed an impressive career in the music industry before turning her attention to other creative endeavours. As one of Canada’s most internationally renowned transcultural music bands, The Parachute Club garnered five Junos, five BMACs, five Casbys, two Platinum and one Gold record, and a SOCAN Classic Award for Rise Up. Most recently, the band was honoured with the Indie Hall of Fame Award from CMW’s Indie Music Awards. The group’s hits Rise Up, At the Feet of the Moon, Love and Compassion, and Love is Fire remain staples on Canadian radio.

Segato has two critically praised solo recordings – Luminous City and Phoenix – and produced several music scores. Segato has also devoted time to directing, writing, narrating and music editing a TV and festival documentary called Queen Street West: The Rebel Zone with the award-winning Rhombus Media International. She executive produced an accompanying Sony Records soundtrack CD. The Rebel Zone won her the most promising new female director award at the Inside Out Film Festival.

She now turns her talents to writing a one-woman show, Get Off My Dress, and her new CD Invincible Decency will be released this fall, followed by updated remixes of classic Parachute Club songs beginning with Feet of the Moon.

The next year promises to be interesting for Segato as documentarian Shelley Saywell follows her in the process of remounting and producing her event 6 Degrees & Closing to help showcase the talents of the many creative homeless people of Toronto.