Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I’m pleased to rise to speak about the virtual Victoria Forum taking place over three days: Thursday, November 12; Friday, November 13; and also on November 19.
Senators, many of you know of this unique partnership between the Senate and the University of Victoria. And Senator Furey, Your Honour, I want to thank you so much for leading this initiative.
This timely forum is called “Bridging Divides in the wake of a global pandemic,” and deals with economic divides, social divides, environmental divides. I’m very proud of this partnership and I am honoured to play a role in helping to facilitate the forum.
Like most things these days, the forum has shifted to an online platform and the message has been adapted to meet the needs of the immense challenges we are facing. In doing so, the University of Victoria hosted a series of 11 webinars this past summer and fall, offering invaluable information leading up to this Victoria Forum. Attendees from around the world gave evidence aimed at breaking down the multiple ways this pandemic has amplified inequalities.
Knowing that eight senators participated in the webinar series and though many of you know most of this information, I feel it’s worth repeating. These impressive conversations offered invaluable knowledge and insight into pressing world issues. They present a road map to recovery, a road map that all countries can benefit from, especially ours. These are solutions for a better world.
Looking back on my role as the moderator of the second webinar that took place on June 11, I’m reminded of the importance of paying special attention to the experiences of people. When we do this — I mean truly pay attention to the experiences of people — we as policy-makers are able to enact fair and balanced laws that respect all of the values which define us as a country.
Take the most recent webinar, for example, which took place just last Thursday. It reinforced the idea that sustainable development should be at the forefront of actions addressing climate change and so much more. Through this partnership between the Senate of Canada, the University of Victoria, the Victoria Forum, senators have truly demonstrated a shared commitment to create a society that is enriched by diversity. The contributions of senators has greatly supplemented the success of the Victoria Forum, and a number of you will be asked to facilitate the round tables next week.
I want to thank Senator Paul Woo and Senator Yonah Martin for their participation in helping to facilitate this. It was very important to me and the forum. In addition, I want to give a special thank you to Dr. Adel Guitouni and Dr. Saul Klein, and all the members of the forum’s executive team for their continued dedication.
The forum’s 2020 agenda is jam-packed with experts from 23 countries over a three-day period and will work to find solutions. There is no cost to attend; all are welcome. Now with this pandemic, our world is divided in so many ways and along many different fault lines. We have work to do. It is in this spirit that I ask you to join me at this year’s Victoria Forum. Thank you.