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.
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...
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.
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.
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…
Gerry Pond is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Mariner Partners Inc. and the Co-Founder of East Valley Ventures. He was CEO of NBTel and president of its successor, Aliant Telecom before he moved into the tech startup field.
Gerry is perhaps best known for his successes in the tech world with two New Brunswick startups Q1 Labs and Radian6. Collectively, they sold for a billion dollars in 2011.
Following these successes, he co-created the industry group Propel ICT, which runs the Launch36 tech startup accelerator, and established the University of New Brunswick’s Pond-Deshpande Centre in 2011 with the help of “Desh” Deshpande, an American billionaire tech entrepreneur.
He has also co-founded a number of other successful ICT start-ups in Atlantic Canada, including iMagicTV, Brovada Technologies, Shift Energy and Cirrus9. He is a Director of Upside Foundation, the New Brunswick Business Council, and the National Angel Capital Organization.
Gerry Pond has received many honours, including the 2003 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO Award in Atlantic Canada in 2003 and 2005, an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of New Brunswick, an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Saint Mary’s University, and he was inducted into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame in October 2007.
He has been recognized with the 2017 EY Atlantic Lifetime Achievement Award, the prestigious Wolf Blass Lifetime Achievement Award and he was awarded the first-ever Business Development Bank of Canada Entrepreneurship Champion.
Most recently, Gerry was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. I met with Gerry at my office in downtown Halifax…
Jeremy White and his wife Melanie were looking for a summer retreat in Cape Breton after honeymooning in 2008. What they found were a new way of life and a successful small business.
Big Spruce Brewing sprung from a passion for craft beer and a serendipitous real estate buy in Nyanza.
Jeremy's background was in international engineering and while living in Nicaragua, they stumbled upon an opportunity to relocate to Nova Scotia.
He had been a home brewer for years, and have wanted to scale his production up to a commercial level for a long time.
With favourable condition for growing hops and an industry that has been taking off in the region, they opened up Nova Scotia’s first certified organic on-farm brewery. Big Spruce quickly established itself as a local favourite.
Jeremy has made his views known broadly about the public policy challenges facing the craft beer industry publishing this open letter to the people of Nova Scotia.
In our wide-ranging conversation, we talk about the challenges of starting the brewery, his ongoing frustration with regulatory issues and his views on the future of craft brewing and the Atlantic Canadian economy.
I spoke with him in the brewery in a beautiful setting overlooking the Bras d'Or Lakes in Cape Breton.
Denis Joseph Patrick Ryan. Irish musician turned successful businessman,
He is one of Canada's leading performers, helping establish traditional Celtic music throughout North America, England, and Australia.
Denis was born in Newport, County Tipperary, Ireland, immigrating to Toronto in 1969.
Eventually moving to St. John's, Newfoundland, he founded what became one of Canada's most well known traditional bands, Ryan's Fancy. In 1983 the group was disbanded and he turned his attention to the stock market and other business interests.
Ryan moved to Halifax where he and his family have resided for more than 35 years. I sat down with Denis in his home near the Public Gardens in downtown Halifax.
In our conversation, we cover topics as wide ranging as his time with Ryan's Fancy, his involvement with craft brewing in the 1980's and Nova Scotia Crystal.