The way we have treated aboriginals in Canada is our great shame. This week confirmed to me that they are collectively more forgiving and forward thinking than our previous governments' racist policies. I am not new to these stories. While working in youth protection, I saw the pain in families torn apart by the legacy of residential schools. A little known fact about the residential schools is that when they were built, these were the only schools in Canada that included a cemetery to bury the children that would die. This is our legacy.
The most abused cliche in politics is the concept of 'change,' yet a young movement among academics and techno-scientists seeks to overhaul the current system with a computerized, politician-minimal alternative. Algorithmic governance is a radical, digital reimagining of government centred on computerized processes. Algorithms -- which already have many applications like sorting incoming emails and controlling traffic lights -- would be unified to create a governing network. Algorithmic government may sound far-fetched, but it is already happening in smaller, more localized ways.
Will mountains become hotbeds of authoritarian tendencies since climate warming is so pronounced? We are culturally induced to associate mountains with freedom, and many massifs in Europe were famous centres for rebellion against the fascists in WWII. What psychological reaction to climate change may people in mountains have?
Unlike the iron fist of communism, capitalism's incidents of harm (recall the mugging in Central Park) result not from government oppression but from the nature of freedom itself. Misguided newspaper columns notwithstanding, in theory, practice and historical record, between capitalism and communism, there's no comparison.
Do you recognize any of these red flags? On a board or in a company of which you serve? Allegations of wrongdoing can put assets and reputation at risk. Regulators have enormous power, and are focusing their sights much more on the role a board plays, or does not play, in overseeing the affairs of the company.
One critical difference between a well-functioning city-state on the periphery of East Asia -- or a country like Canada -- and China, is the degree to which rules are predictable and enforced. Obvious or not, those tempted to bend or break the rules should recall such distinctions, as should the rest of us.
I recently served on a governance awards judging panel assembled by the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries (CSCS). Winners of the awards were announced at this organization's annual conference in Halifax last month. I participated in a plenary discussion to discuss some of the winning practices.
Boards should revitalize, as the American economy (and the world) is dependent on it. But they need to do so in a way that puts their own interests and reputations at risk. They need to be ruthless in recreating - and think only of the best interests of their enterprises. They need to "person proof" in other words, which is the theme of the NACD conference.
There is merit to Peter Munk's position. If shareholders truly believe in pay for performance, then it is equally important to attract and motivate executive talent in a downturn as it is in an upturn. This means, paradoxically, that a compensation committee will pay out more, in spite of low stock price, and rein in executive pay during an upturn.