People Power or Military Manoevres? Has the Arab Spring Turned Into a Winter of Discontent?
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Lyse Doucet
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10 November, 2011 People Power or Military Manoevres? Has the Arab Spring Turned Into a Winter of Discontent?
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10 Nov 2011
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November 2011
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November 10, 2011

The Empire Club Presents

People Power or Military Manoevres? Has the Arab Spring Turned Into a Winter of Discontent?

Chairman: Robin Sears, First Vice-President, The Empire Club of Canada

Head Table Guests

John Walker, President, Transition Plus, and Director, The Empire Club of Canada

Jona Malile, Grade 10 Studen, Forest Hill Collegiate Institute

Reverend M. J. Perry, Vice-President and Owner Mr. Discount, and Director, The Empire Club of Canada

Doug Morris, President, Morris and Glass Windows, and Director, The Empire Club of Canada

Andrea Doucet, Brock University and Canada Research Chair in Gender, Work and Care

Bob DeStefanis, Vice-President, Distribution and Business Development of the Americas, BBC World News; and

Michael Woronuk, Marketing Manager for the Americas, BBC World News

Introduction by Robin Sears

Lyse Doucet is a Senior Presenter and Correspondent for the BBC World News TV and World Service radio. She's a regular presenter for the world services award winning program news hour. She also reports across the BBC for BBC News night. Say, parenthetically, if any of you here are satellite radio subscribers, you can listen to these regularly. She played a key role in the BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring across the Middle East in North Africa and was recently given rare access to visit Syria. She's a regular visitor to Afghanistan and Pakistan from where she has been reporting for the past two decades. Her one hour film, Afghanistan, the Unknown Country was broadcast on BBC2 this year.

Her work is focused on major natural disasters including the Indian Ocean tsunami, and more recently, the Pakistan floods.

Before joining the BBC’s team of presenters in 1999. Lyse spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem among Kabul, Islamabad, Tehran, and Abidjan.

She was nominated for two Emmy awards in the United States this year. Her most recent award in 2010 include a Peabody and a David Bloom Award for her television films From Afghanistan, and Radio News Journalist of the Year at the Sony radio Academy Awards in the United Kingdom.

Born in Canada, Lyse has four honorary doctorates from Canadian universities. She has a Master's degree in International Relations from U of T, and a BA honors from Queen's University in Kingson.

She is a Council Member of the International Council on Human Rights Policy, an honorary patron of Canadian Crossroads International, and a member of Friends of Aschiana U, which supports working street children in Afghanistan. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the esteemed Lyse Doucet.

Lyse Doucet

Thank you very, very much for what was an extremely generous introduction, I have to say, it's such a treat to be here in Toronto, I still consider Toronto to be one of my many homes. And if you're going to be in Toronto, where else would you want to be at lunch, but in this glorious ballroom at this famous King Eddie Hotel? Of course, when I was a student here, we never got to make it to the king Eddie Hotel.

I work for the BBC, so it's incumbent on me to be honest with you. I have to say that I was so thrilled when I was told I would be able to appear at The Empire Club. I thought, ooh, Empire Club, maybe a few bowler hats, posh British accents. Then I arrive and in the wonderful reception area of the king at hotel and what happens? I'm immediately pursued by some of my students from Queen's University days. I’m still being pursued for old unsettled scores. One of my professors shows up, still thinking I must owe him some papers. And then there's my friends from Canadian Crossroads International, who stopped me from saying that it was 30 years ago that we all met in Toronto, and then went off to various parts of the world. I'm thinking, well, actually, I can’t get away with anything here at this podium. To make matters even worse, the Empire Club and the BBC invited students, graduate students from the Middle East, including those countries I'm going to talk about so if I get anything wrong. They're going to say, “Excuse me, Miss Doucet, did you actually mean to say that?”

Anyway, all of that, of course, has increased the pressure on me. Let's go back to why we're here and I think the only thing I can conclude from the kind of people you have gathered here today is that the Empire Club is a great gathering place. It's a great gathering place for people from all walks of life, and for me, it's represents people from all parts of my of my time here in Canada. Of course, it is a special privilege that my sister Andrea is here as well. Andrea and I both arrived in Toronto many decades ago, two girls from New Brunswick, who had never seen that skyscrapers, so it was really an exciting time to come to the big the big city of Toronto.

I have to say that it's a special honor for me, a Doucet with Acadian ancestry, to come to an Empire Club, because I like most Canadians know, all too well, the great history of our country that was forged in the competition and the conquest and the advance of empires. Of course, for us, the Acadians, the British and the French fought over our people in our lands for many years, until finally, the British won out over the French, and the Catholics. The Acadians,were forced to leave for a while and the rest is history.

I suppose it's a mark of the great history of our post-empire, Canada that I, an Acadian now working for the British Broadcasting Corporation in London, England, can come to the Empire Club in Toronto, such a distinguished club which the members will know founded in 1903 to maintain links with the British Empire. Even though there's not a bowler hat in sight here, there are still those fading echoes of empire. Every few years or so I have to appear on one of the BBC’s call-in programs to answer questions from the listeners questions about my accent, and they usually go something like this.

“Where is these two Lyse Doucet from? Is she Irish? She’s not American, is she?” Then occasionally, there's that hangover from Empire when someone writes in and says, “Good Lord, can you find me with proper British accents to do those jobs?” I dutifully, every few years, appear on the BBC and explain that actually, I'm a Canadian. Canadian by origin, Canadian by identity and passport. I have Acadian ancestry, Scottish, Irish, Mi’kmaq, vrai Canadienne. Every time I do this, I find myself getting just a little bit bolder. The last time I did it --of course, if you wink on radio, nobody can hear you winking--I winked. Actually, I always regard my BBC career as a bit of Acadian justice. You see we didn't get our lands back, but I got a job, and as you well know, in the Maritimes, we love job creation.

After that intervention, the BBC got letters from Acadians from around the world. Vive L’Acadie, long live Acadie. Acadie en avant, Bravo, Lyse. in someone even wrote in and said, “Lyse, you're the Celine Dion of Acadie,” and the BBC --sacre bleu.

But today, I come from the BBC, and I come to your distinguished club set up in the cold, dark winter of 1903 for men and women of consequence to shine some light on the news of the day. In this hallowed tradition, allow me then to talk today about some news of the day --the kind of news, the kind of history that defines the country redefines it changes a region and its sense of self, and even changes the world including Canada.

They call it the “Arab Spring.” Arab Spring. Who ever came up with this phrase? It is so delicious, so irresistible. Who wouldn't want to know about it? “Arab,” because it is in a region where politics has not changed for decades where democracy became fossilized. I was in Jordan and Iraq in the run-up before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I kept urging what we would call “moderate voices,” both leaders and intellectuals to come and be interviewed so that the political space wasn't just taken up by hard-line voices. Then finally, a friend of mine who headed Jordan's most prominent think tank said to me, “Lyse, what can we say? We have nothing to say. As Arabs, we feel humiliated. We are not writing our own history. History is being written for us by outsiders.” Then came the Arab Spring.

If anyone knows about spring, it's Canadians. The time when the snows melt, when the flowers grow, a time of new beginnings. What a time it is of hope, and promise. When this year began, in January, I went to North Africa, to Tunisia, where the Arab Spring was born. I went to that small poor town called Sidi Bouzid where Mohammed Bouazizi literally lit the match that ignited a revolution. Fed up with mistreatment by the authorities, he burned himself alive. His mother Menobia, clad in black, consumed by grief, said as any mother would, “Mohammad was a good boy.” All he wanted to do was make enough money to get a good enough job to support his family. It was through selling fruit and vegetables from his little cart that he supported his widowed mother and his seven siblings.

How could Mohammed, with a small-town perspective, just 26 years old, understand that day what he would inspire? Who could have expected, who could have thought what would happen next? It's the stuff of history. The protests spread from Sidi Bouzid to Tunis. The government fell. President Ben Ali, the president for life, fled. I'll never forget in January walking down the elegant tree lined Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, where there were dozens of “Hyde Park Speakers Corners,” springing up everywhere with Tunisians arguing politely, discussing, debating, asking questions, a kind of freedom we considered so basic, that kind of freedom denied to Tunisians. In fact, it was almost impossible to walk down Habib Bourguiba Avenue, because everyone wants to stop us to ask us questions. What a sweet feeling it was.

Then from Tunis, to Egypt, to Cairo, the capital of capitals in the Middle East, where Egyptian said “Congratulations Tunis,”

But being Egyptians they also said “If the Tunisians can do that, what about us? The Great Egyptians?” It took just 18 days of unprecedented protests to bring down President Mubarak. I still go to Cairo and say, “How did they do it?” Was a new politics of the street being born? Tunisia, Egypt. What was the rallying cry? The cry on the streets where we have lost our fear. We saw the Tunisians marching down the boulevards, marching to stare riot police in the face. We saw the Egyptians running toward the tanks. One day, the first day of protests, we were on the 19th floor of the BBC’s offices in Cairo, and even there on high we could smell and taste and have our eyes streaming from the tear gas below And what did we see below? Protesters at one end of the street, running down into the tear gas, picking up the canisters with bare hands and throwing them back at the troops and the tanks. They had lost their fear.

In March, I went to Benghazi in eastern Libya, liberated Benghazi they called it. They renamed their square to call it “Tahir Square,” just like Egypt. Liberation Square. In the middle of the square, a courthouse was transformed into a wall of protest, a wall of pain, of photographs. For the first time Libyans were able to speak and to grieve in public about loved ones they had lost. 1200 Libyans died one day alone in a mass killing at Abu Salim, Tripoli's most notorious prison. You'd look at this wall. Every one of the photographs meant something to someone. The photographs all together meant something to a city, to a people and to families being allowed to grieve. How do we, as Canadians even begin to stand in their shoes? I found a way.

One day, I went to the square looking, as I did, on most days, at the photographs, looking at the people looking at the photographs. We saw a group of women at the side and they were holding the pictures of their loved ones in frames. We moved closer. And we'd looked, looked at the photographs and then I stopped. In one frame, a smiling face in a familiar light wood background, a gown, a red gown edged in blue and gold, a graduation gown from Queen's University. A Libyan man returned from our country armed with a chemical engineering degree, armed with hope. He went back to die in a prison accused of the kind of politics that we call, “democracy.” The photograph was held up by his wife, pretty, with her blue headscarf. She also went to Queen’s. She studied literature. Her son stood with her, old enough now to go to university, too young to ever known his father. At that moment, I felt two worlds collapse. Our world in Canada of such peace and promise, the world in Libya so far away. But is it? Is it far away?

But for his wife and for the other Libyans, those moments of freedom then turned into months of violence and war, a civil war. The world responded with UN resolution 1973, which authorized the use of all means to protect civilians. Canada, as many of you will know played a key role in enforcing that resolution that didn't just protect civilians. It also brought down the government of Colonel Kaddafi.

It's 10 years this month, since this concept of responsibility to protect was forged. Most of you will know that Canada also played a decisive role in bringing that concept to fruition, ensuring that the world took note of it. I was so pleased. I was in Ottawa last week. There was a seminar there with Kofi Annan and Lloyd Axworthy and Chris Alexander whose parents Bruce and Angie are here today to discuss this. I'm told there have been seminars across the country --some of you may have gone to them-- for Canadians to discuss responsibility to protect and to discuss the future.

What about the future? What about places like Syria? What about a place where there's a long drawn-out confrontation? Every day 5, 10, 20, 30, on bad days, 40 people die. Is there a responsibility to protect?

In September, I was given the first visa that the authorities gave to the BBC to go to Damascus. I found the heart of its charming capital, Damascus, as charming as ever. There's no Tahrir Square in the middle of Damascus. The intelligence services have made sure of that. There are also supporters of President Assad as well. He has some support among the minorities, including the Christians who worry about the future.

Now Syria has never been a place where people want to discuss politics. On my last visit, I found that most people didn't want to talk at all. They looked terrified when you even approached them to ask questions, except for those, of course, who wanted to express loud and impassioned support for the president.

One day we were given permission, because we needed to have permission everywhere we went, to go outside this bubble in Damascus to the suburbs, to Barzeh with our government minder. It was Friday, Friday prayers. As we arrived just as the prayers were ending, the worshipers came out and they immediately surrounded us --myself with a producer and a camera person, because foreign journalists are so rare in Syria. They circled around us and so did the intelligence people in the kind of clothes that we came to recognize. The troops were on every corner. Unlike other cities where I've been this year, nobody wanted to talk, until finally one man but put a bit of paper into my producer’s hand. This is it, written in English, written in haste, and what does it say? Thank you. But no one can meet with you because the army is in the street. The people are afraid.

Then another man came up beside me. And I was standing like this and he stood next to me. I didn't look at him, and he didn't look at me. And he said, “Look down the street.” And I said, “What is there?” He said, “Look at the car with the soldiers.” And I said, “What are they doing?” He said, “They're trying to frighten us.” And then I looked at his face, and I said, “Are you frightened?” He said, “Yes,” and he went away. He was the bravest of the worshipers that day because most of the people we saw that day, were too afraid, even to say they were afraid.

Syrians have been taken to the streets in large numbers and very boldly, without fear, in cities like Hama and Homs. Any of you who follow them, and I know Abdullah, where's Abdullah comes from Syria. Anyone who follows the news will know those cities by name.

As the government crackdown continues, even supporters of President Assad are growing critical, are asking questions. Someone in his inner circle said to me, “If a peaceful uprising or revolution was on offer in Syria, more than 80% of Syrians would take it.” But it's not on offer. Unlike in Egypt and Tunisia early this year, the army is firing on the people. Now, President Assad's people say these are armed gangs that they're firing on. They believe it. Some of their supporters believe it.

I went to see a Jesuit priest in Damascus and said to him, “Are the Christians afraid?” And he replied, perhaps with the intellectual rigor of a Jesuit, he said “23 million Syrians are afraid. Everyone is afraid, fearful of the future.”

What about then the real Tahrir Square in Egypt? Was it really a revolution? Now if any of us go and check a dictionary, what would it say? And I'll say what the dictionary it says the dictionary would tell us a revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or a social order in favor of a new system. Now many Egyptians are saying, they're complaining, they're still protesting that, in fact, the old system is still in place. The only difference they say between the old one in the new is that President Mubarak at least knew something about politics. Now you have a military regime, soldiers who have no experience in politics. I met one despondent revolutionary who said, “We've started to ask here. Did our revolution turn into a coup d'etat or was it a coup d'etat before it could become a revolution? Do we have to ask the question as to whether 30 years of dictatorship will take 30 years to undo. That is the generation.”

I want to just leave you with one or two parting thoughts. The uprisings this year, the Arab Spring, so called started in Tunisia. Tunisians were the first to vote. People voted there in orderly and peaceful elections. They voted in large numbers. Great for democracy, but that's Tunisia, small, integrated, relatively well developed. In the months to come, we'll see them using this new political space, and the jostling for position and power between the secular groups and the liberals and the Islamists. We will all watch from afar, and some people may want to jump to conclusions but Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, all of these different groups are now being given the space to chart their own future. What emerges in Tunisia will be Tunisian, Egyptians will go to the polls at the end of this month, Libyans, we hope, next year. Of course, the processes are still unfolding in many other places.

In Canada, we know that seasons end. No one wants to really talk about the Arab Spring anymore. Is it an autumn of discontent? Is it a winter of unrest? There are a lot of places I could have talked about today. The monarchies like Jordan and Morocco, where kings have buffers. They can sack the governments. There are other places like Yemen and Bahrain, which like Syria, asked for visas as they want to try to keep the journalists out.

Now activists from Tahrir Square have left Egypt, some of them have gone to New York, they're advising the activists in Occupy Wall Street. Maybe some of them have even made their way to Canada, as the occupy movement makes its way across North America, and Europe. I can't comment on those kinds of movements because I haven't seen them up close. What I can say is that this year, I have seen young and old, men and women in the Arab world, determined to write their own history, determined to make a difference. fighting the battles of their time.

Tomorrow, November 11, we will all remember the Canadians who fought real battles in the last century and they're still fighting in places around the world. These are the young and the not so young, who still cross the ocean to try to make a difference. I grew up with a grandmother who talked about her two brothers who went to war. They came back, but many didn't. That, as you all know, helped to shape the country we have. We fight for what we believe in.

Look at Canada today. What a changed country it is? Far richer a mosaic than what it was when I arrived here more than two decades ago to study at the University of Toronto. Studying at U of T opened a whole new world for me. And then I joined Canadian Crossroads International, to start to see the world. I'm hoping that those of you who came today didn't just because you're old friends of mine, but because you're also involved in the wider world, and you care about it. In your desire to understand the world, keep in touch with it, connect the dots. Some of you may even watch or listen to the BBC or watch our website. We hope, I hope you're going to continue to do that. We're now in four and a half million homes across Canada. In January, we’ll even be on high definition. You can even get a closer look at some of the presenters and correspondents.

I work for the BBC, so have to be honest. There are no Celine Dions working for the BBC. There is a Canadian broadcaster with a French name and a strange accent, who remains Canadian and wants to thank you very much for coming today. Thank you.

Questions & Answers

Graduate students doing PhDs on the Arab Spring are not allowed to ask questions. However, people who watch BBC World are allowed. So please identify yourself when you ask questions. Sorry, go ahead.

Q: My name is Peter Rolls. I spent some time in the Middle East.

LD:Well, here's a British accent. I knew there'd be one.

Q: Some people say in Syria that actually have asked Azad is in favor of taking a softer line and it's really his brother, who has taken the harder line. What's your perspective on that?

LD: Very good question. It's a question that I've also asked people. I've asked it of everyone that I've met and there's not too many that I know who I come across. I met President Assad in recent months. And they all say that, you know, he looks geeky like his last job before becoming president of Syria was the president of the Computer Society. If you look too geeky, he is geeky. You know, he's an ophthalmologist by training, who plays tennis with his wife and has learned English. You think, can he really be doing all that? And I'm told that he is in charge. His brother Majid, who's in charge, the Republican Guard has a different kind of reputation. What the experts say and Syrians say is that when Bashar Al Assad replaced his father, Hafez Al Assad in 2000, when his father died, you know, there was a talk then of a Damascus spring that he wanted to push aside, the people called “the uncle's.” Abdullah is listening. He may be different. But now it's being said that he's bringing back these people, these in laws and relatives who know how to deal with this kind of unrest, and that he himself also believes that, you know, this is it, how do you get inside the minds of these people who's not just President Assad? I was told by someone very close to him in his inner circle, that the prevailing view is just a bit more violence, and we'll get a handle on it. And they do genuinely believe. I mean, when he gave one of his speeches, he said, there are somewhat legitimate grievances. But there are also armed gangs, they're infiltrators, and there are some armed gangs, there are some infiltrators, but it's a predominantly peaceful protest. So you know, I've, I've interviewed President Assad, there were great hopes for him. But everyone that I've spoken to says, he's the man in charge, the buck stops with him.

Q: Hi, my name is Nick Jay, from the Canadian International Council. You're a great speaker.

LD: Thanks for that. And I'm sure you'll have a great question.

Q: Yeah, you're also a symbol of Canada abroad, but responsibility to protect has the potential of being a symbol of Canada abroad, yet our current government does not allow the word or the phrase to be used within our halls of government. In Syria, in particular, how do you think Canada can use the responsibility to protect to reclaim its steam position internationally?

LD: Well, it is a question and not just a good question. It's a question that is a real-life question, and it's being asked. Look at the circumstances which came together to allow intervention in Libya. You had a UN Security Council resolution, you had a meeting and a consensus in the Arab League. You had NATO saying that they could do something. You had the logistical possibility, a difficult as it was, but it was still logistically possible to have a no fly zone. And you had rebel armies to work with, because it did turn into a war, a very asymmetrical war, but it did. Those conditions are not in place for Syria. The NATO Secretary General on this problem said, “I have no intentions of going to Syria.” It's being said it has never been discussed to the high councils of NATO. The Arab League is still divided, the Arab League still believes it can talk to President Assad, it's been sending delegations in there, and Russia and China, and some of them because the BRIC countries are likely to stop any resolution on Syria. But I have to say that even though Syrians want to do it themselves, more and more of their local coordination committees are now calling for protection, calling for outside help. And what seems to be happening is it was interesting at this panel that I was at with Kofi Annan, who was second UN Secretary at the time, Lloyd Axworthy, who was the foreign minister at the time, Chris Alexander, who's now in the Conservative Party. And we were discussing about, you know, where this where this concept could go, and unless the rest of the world is behind this, it's not, it's not going to keep going. I mean, there's a heaviness now that it worked in Libya. And this is not the place. But of course, there is a discussion of this discomfort that in fact, it went what far beyond UN resolution. It was about regime change, and not just about protecting civilians. But that's, that's another debate and whether the conditions will ever be aligned again to intervene in that way. There's discussion of regional solutions. For example, Turkey, which now feels very much let down by President Assad is now organizing. I noticed when I was in the region that if you go to Jordan or Turkey, they let the Syrian refugees in but they keep the soldier separate just to see what kind of movement they make. In Turkey now is we know it's organizing some of the military defectors, maybe regional bodies. Maybe countries like Turkey will take the lead in some kind of a responsibility to protect is Kofi Annan, who was the one who first push this what he would describe responsibility to protect, as he said he would describe it as an emerging norm. In other words, that all of us in our daily lives could be thinking about responsibility to protect governments can think about it, it doesn't always have to be a Security Council resolution. But when it is, it has much more punch, literally. We should, as I say, after CIT is the students, and then the students don't get any questions, I think at least one, one of the students and someone for the militia get a question or you're a student from the Middle East student, okay.

Q: I'm doing my MBA at the University of Toronto. Yes. And my name is Camila Camo.

LD: Camo. Where's your family's ancestry from? I can ask this question because I'm Canadian.

Q: We're originally from Bangladesh.

LD: Okay.

Q: But we've lived in Dubai, and in Canada. So I was wondering if you could share some insight into Saudi Arabia and the potential of a broader kind of movement. You mentioned Bahrain and Yemen, particularly given the recent change in line of succession. In the Saudi Arabian monarchy, I wonder if you could share some insight?

LD: I'll ask you, because I know you come from both. You live in a country and have traditions of, you know, very strong families. Are there any 80-year-olds in your family?

Q: Yes, my grandmother.

LD:Yeah. Have you found that the 80 year olds ever changed their mind on anything, or they just continue doing it the same way they've done for the last 80 years?

Q: Well, my grandmother's particularly special, she taught herself how to Skype and use a computer

LD: Oh, 75. So Well, then, maybe I'm lucky. Maybe because as you know, there's just been Nayef bin Abdulaziz has taken over as the Crown Prince, but this is a kingdom where there are thousands of Princes. A very conservative kingdom, a kingdom which has a special responsibility in the Islamic world because it's the protector of the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina. Burnside is in his mid 70s, has been an interior minister for as long as anyone can remember. The king himself is failing. He's in his 80s. The next people lined up are all in their 70s. And the Saudis have done everything possible --and they have a lot more money to do it-- to keep a lid on anything happening in the kingdom. So things with the excuse of the Saudis always is that and you hear this in many different societies. And I think we have to respect it. Every society has to move at its own at its own pace, but they say they've only just given women the right to vote in local elections, as we know, or municipal elections, that they can't even drive, which to us is staggeringly, incomprehensible. But those protests, there were some few brave women, but there's no sign in the immediate future that women will even be allowed to drive. So in places like Saudi Arabia, change takes place very, very slowly. I'm told, and I haven't been to Saudi Arabia, but the king King Fahd is very popular. A lot of Saudis really like him. They want the stability. But there is definitely simmering unrest. But I think if you look across the region, I think the last to go, if indeed more to go would be Saudi Arabia. And I think they are back to responsibility to protect. I mean, the world will be watching very closely. United States, Canada, they don't want Saudi Arabia to crumble. Because this is the problem with Syria. If Syria falls, a lot of other things fall with it. And that's the concern now, and that's the accusation, that it’s fine to go into Libya. But what about Hezbullah in Lebanon? What about Hamas? What about Iran? These are like a Rubik's cube that when you turn the colors all around, there's always going to be one piece sticking out in in a very awkward way. So it's again, back to you know, Arab Spring makes it sound so delightful, but they're literally life and death issues. And these are like seismic, tectonic plates that are shifting in the Middle East. It's gonna take a while. But thanks for your question.

Robin Sears

Thank you very much, please, can I call on Doug Morris to express our appreciation?

Note of Appreciation by Doug Morris, President, Morris and Glass Windows, and Director, The Empire Club of Canada

Mr. President, distinguished guests, fellow members, and the guests of the Empire Club of Canada. It is my honor to express our formal thanks to Ms. Lyse Doucet for sharing her incredible speech today at our luncheon. Ms. Doucet, it was a pleasure to listen to you talk about the experiences the people and the military of the Middle East. And I'm sure the future will bring many changes to the Middle East for the country's betterment of mankind. Again, Ms. Doucet, thank you for sharing your speech with the Empire Club Canada today. Good luck and stay safe in the future.

Concluding Remarks by Verity Craig

Please let me echo Doug's comments and present on behalf of the Club, our copy of Who Said That? pitches and quotes from speakers like yourself over the last 100 years of history of the club. We really appreciate your being here today. Thank you very much

If you live in a city like Toronto, you have a zillion things you could be doing. You could even be on your Facebook page. So thank you very, very much. And I want to especially thank friends and my sister for coming to get really, really, really touched. And I think we should all feel, I know there's nothing's perfect in in Canada. We say we have a saying in the Middle East that only God is perfect. But I think we still have to say we do have an incredible country, incredible country. And there was one time and I had the pleasure of interviewing Jean Chrétien when he was Prime Minister and I talked to him first about why we didn't go into Iraq. And then I interviewed talk to him about why we went into Afghanistan. And I could see that the people around him are kind of saying, you know, punishment. So then I switch to talk about a lien his wife because I knew no one would stop him from talking about it and his wife and he went on and on about his wife. And then finally I got I figure I'm Canadian, I'm allowed to ask Canadian questions. Right, the very end, I said, Mr. Cozzi, I want to ask Prime Minister coach, I want to ask you the question that's always asked in Canada. What does it mean to be Canadian? And he pauses for just a second and he said, “Grateful.”

Thank you so much, Lyse. That was one of the memorable lunches of the year for us. Let me just bring to your attention a few upcoming events next week. We have police chief William Blair at the Royal York in the concert hall on the 12th of December, Mark Carney, our estimable Governor of the Bank of Canada also at the Royal York on the fifth of January, our 18th annual outlook event on the economic outlook for 2012, with Nick Bella, chef Stephen Harris and Fred Sturm, in the Canadian room.

I'd like to thank BBC World News for sponsoring the event today, thank Mr. discount for sponsoring the student table, like to thank the National Post, our national media sponsor, and this meeting was carried and aired on Rogers television for which we're also grateful. We're now on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at our own web address Empireclub.org. Thank you for all coming. We look forward to seeing you again soon. This meeting is adjourned. Thank you



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People Power or Military Manoevres? Has the Arab Spring Turned Into a Winter of Discontent?


10 November, 2011 People Power or Military Manoevres? Has the Arab Spring Turned Into a Winter of Discontent?