January 26, 2018

Fall Back Up with Ray Ivany


Ray Ivany professional career has been distinguished by his interest in two things: post-secondary education and public policy. Ray graduated from University College of Cape Breton and East Tennessee State University, followed by a research fellowship at Harvard.

He worked in Nova Scotia's college and university system for more than 35 years.

At the University College of Cape Breton, Ray led the development of the university's first strategic plan. As President and CEO, Ray reinvented the Nova Scotia Community College (NSSC) spearheading a $123-million campus modernization.

As President of Acadia University, he reconnected the university with the values and culture that has made it one of Canada's best for nearly 180 years.

Ray's extensive experience with private and public sector boards and organizations led to an appointment by the premier of Nova Scotia to chair a landmark economic commission.

The resulting report issued in 2014, Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians, has become the economic development blueprint for the province.

Ray has received numerous awards and distinctions, including:

Maclean's Honour Roll of Ten Canadians Who Made a Difference in 2004
Atlantic Business Magazine's Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame in 2011
Halifax Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year in 2015 and 2016
Canada's Public Policy Forum Leadership Award
Canada's Most Admired Corporate Cultures CEO of Broader Public Sector

I met Ray in the Library of the beautiful K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre at Acadia University...


Today...a conversation with internationally-renowned expert in the area of adolescent mental health…Dr. Stan Kutcher

A national and international leader in mental health research, advocacy, training, policy, and services innovation, Dr. Stan Kutcher holds the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health.He works to advance adolescent mental health, education, research and training locally, nationally and internationally. H

e currently directs the World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Mental Health at Dalhousie and has served as Department Head of Psychiatry and Associate Dean for International Health at Dalhousie University.

Dr. Kutcher's work has received numerous awards and honours locally, nationally and internationally including: Best Doctor in Canada; Doctors Nova Scotia Health Promotion Award; Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacolgy Gold Medal; Lifetime Achievement Award of the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation.

He is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the author/co-author of numerous medical textbooks.

One of his current projects is leading the development of a national child and youth mental health framework for Canada.

I spoke with Stan Kutcher at his office in downtown Halifax...

December 16, 2017

Fall Back Up with Danny Graham

Danny Graham is best known as the former leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and MLA for Halifax Citadel. He is now serving as the Chief Engagement Officer of Engage Nova Scotia.

Over the past three decades, Danny has held senior positions in business, law, government, and politics.

He is currently Counsel to McInnes Cooper – advising on business matters, Collective Social Responsibility and Aboriginal Law.

He has been lead counsel in cases at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

He acted as an advisor to Justice Canada and the United Nations, and consultant to the governments of Thailand, Jamaica, Tanzania, and Ukraine.

In Nova Scotia, he was the province’s Chief Negotiator on Aboriginal rights between 2006 and 2014 in the Made in Nova Scotia Process. 

Danny helped author We Choose Now: A Playbook for Nova Scotians, a ten-year plan examining the economic future of the province.

He was the chair of the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program, the Smart Justice Network of Canada and Envision Halifax.

He also sat on the board of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and St. Francis Xavier University. 

Danny leads an active life beyond his work as a husband and father. He is the co-founder of a wilderness retreat focused on personal development.

I spoke with Danny Graham at my office in downtown Halifax and our conversation covered how he became involved in politics, his passion for restorative justice, his decision to leave to care for his wife during her cancer treatment and his views on the current state of political discourse...


Dan O'Connor is Nova Scotia's most senior and best known NDP politico.
His political activity stretches back to when he graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1974 and was Dal's first full-time student president. He went on to serve as the Executive Secretary of the National Union of Students.

His NDP involvement began as a researcher for Manitoba NDP MP David Orlikow in the late 70s. For the next few years, Dan played several roles for the NDP in Manitoba at both the federal and provincial levels.
Drawn by an offer from Alexa McDonough, Dan welcomed an opportunity to return to Nova Scotia in the mid-80s where he served as Chief of Staff and Communications Director for a decade.
When Alexa became federal NDP leader, Dan served 2 years as the Principal Secretary of Canada's NDP and a special advisor to the federal caucus. Returning to Nova Scotia in 1998, Dan went on to guide the party as Chief of Staff under leaders Robert Chisholm, Helen MacDonald and eventually Darrell Dexter.
I met with Dan to talk about his career at his home overlooking the public gardens in downtown Halifax.

John Edward MacDonell is the longest serving Chief of Staff for a Minister of National Defence in Canadian history. Over seven years he was the right hand of the Hon. Peter MacKay during the Stephen Harper government, six of those at DND.
Defence saw its share of heavy lifting in his tenure, the height of the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan.
John began his career getting his Law degree from Dalhousie University in 1994. He articled Stewart McKelvey and went on to become a Partner in 2001. He is currently a partner at Spiteri & Ursulak working out of their Ottawa office.
MacDonell is well known in Nova Scotia through his connection with the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.  He served as president and is also known as one of 12 original petitioners to establish the Conservative Party of Canada.
In 2006, MacDonell took leave of absence from his partnership at Stewart McKelvey to become Peter MacKay's Chief of Staff serving in the portfolios of Foreign Affairs, National Defence, and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.  
In 2012, MacDonell was inducted into the Order of St. George as a Knight Commander and was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Lieutenant-governor of Québec.
One of John's proudest accomplishments with Minister Mackay was the establishment of the Halifax International Security Forum, an annual gathering of the some of the world's top security, military and political minds.
I met him at the annual event held at the Westin in Halifax. In our conversation we talk about his  Antigonish roots, his role as Chief of Staff to Minister MacKay and he offers some thoughts on the leadership race of the departure of Jamie Baillie as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
Charlene Brophy is the president and CEO of Fonemed.
Fonemed is a Newfoundland-based company with more than 200 employees and 2,300 client groups in Canada, the United States, Latin America and Asia. It provides telephone-based healthcare services to over 10 million people. 
In 2016, Fonemed experienced 46 percent revenue growth in the $10-20 million range.
In Canada, in addition to supplying telecare for Newfoundland, Fonemed is delivering services to clients in Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia, and over 60 university health clinics throughout the US. 
Saskatchewan is licensing its software as are clients in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru, Venezuela, Greece, and Bangladesh.
They supply customers with proprietary software, training, quality assurance and ongoing support. It is clearly an efficient and effective alternative service delivery option many jurisdictions are examining to reduce health care costs and improve efficiency. 
In our conversation, Charlene outlines how Newfoundland and Labrador has become a world leader in pioneering telemedicine, why the Atlantic Provinces should be adopting these practices and how governments need to move away from status quo thinking on health care delivery.
I managed to get a few minutes with Charlene between her many world travels and we sat down to chat at my office in downtown Halifax.
November 10, 2017

Fall Back Up with Kyle Racki

Kyle Racki co-founded Proposify with Kevin Springer in Halifax in 2013. Proposify is software designed to assist agencies to create custom proposals for client online.

Using clean, effective templates, the software eliminates unnecessary, repetitive functions and helps sell ideas. It is quickly gaining acceptance among a broad spectrum of users, growing Proposify's revenues to 4 million dollars annually.

But it hasn't been an easy process. Kyle's story is fascinating. Growing up in Cole Harbour in the Jehovah Witness faith, Kyle was presented with unique challenges and opportunities alike.


Kyle's is an entrepreneurs story, from starting his own agency to support a young family through personal struggles to building his concept using stalwart determination.

I met with Kyle at his cool downtown open concept office space on Barrington Street in Halifax...


Jonathan Torrens is probably best known currently for his roles of J-Roc in the popular television series Trailer Park Boys and CBC's current comedy Mr. D.

His career, however, extends back into his high school years when he hosted the teen-oriented consumer affairs series Street Cents from 1989 until 1996. He then went on to host, co-produce and write for his own teen-oriented talk show, Jonovision, from 1996 until 2001.

He's appeared and starred in many television series and movies over the years becoming one of Canada's most well known young actors.

Now in his 40's, Jonathan has shifted focus, most recently co-writing a book and developing a podcast with his friend and drummer for the band Our Lady Peace Jeremy Taggert.


Canadianity, a compendium of vignettes of the country is top ten on the Globe and Mail's Canadian non-fiction bestseller list and the podcast, Taggert and Torrens.

In our conversation we talk about his early year, his decision to leaver Trailer Park Boys as well as his thoughts on reinventing himself and the impact of the Nova Scotia government's decision surrounding the Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit.

Jonathan is married and has two daughters, Sugar-Daisy and Indigo and lives a few minutes outside Truro, Nova Scotia which is where I sat down with him for a chat...

October 27, 2017

Fall Back Up with Jim Spatz

Jim Spatz is the Chairman and CEO of Southwest Properties Limited, one of Atlantic Canada’s leading real estate developers.
Southwest owns, operates and develops residential and commercial real estate in Atlantic Canada, extended stay accommodations across Canada, as well as multi-unit residential portfolios in four Florida cities.
Bishop's Landing Downtown Halifax
Plans are also underway for Seton Ridge a major community project on the Mother House Grounds on former Mount Saint Vincent lands.
Jim has been leading the company for the past 25 years since returning from Montreal following a 15-year medical career.
Jim also has a number of philanthropic interests including the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank Advisory Board and serves as a Life Director of Neptune Theatre.
He also served on the Board of Governors for Dalhousie University from 2001 – 2015, and served as Board Chair from 2008 – 2014.
In 2007, Jim along with his late father, Simon, were inducted into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame.
Jim and Jordi
He's been named Atlantic Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year for Atlantic Canada and is an active member of the World President’s Organization.
I met to talk with Jim at his office in his downtown Halifax development, Bishop's Landing.

It’s not often you run into someone who began their career when they were six years old.

Born and raised in the tiny community of Berry Mills, New Brunswick, Jared Steeves started his training in being an antique auctioneer literally at his father’s knee.

Starting his own business, Key Auctions at age 18, Jared has built it into one of Atlantic Canada’s top three auction houses.

During his career, Jared has uncovered some remarkable treasures in Maritime estates including the discovery of a painting by the early 20th-century American wildlife artist Carl Ruingas which sold for over 100,000 dollars.


But his business tells only part of the story… now age 30, he’s already travelled to 67 counties and now is fully engaged in international humanitarian work on two continents.

I met with Jared in downtown Moncton…


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