World Affairs Conference 2016: Plenary Recaps

Adair Simpson – Louis Jarvis – Takoda Kemp


Refugee Response and Responsibility in Crisis Plenary

In this plenary, former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, and Ratna Omidvar, founding Executive Director of the Global Diversity Exchange spoke about the current refugee crisis. The two began the session outlining the issue, explaining the sheer size of the humanitarian problem, and how these asylum seekers deserve our support. Both speakers felt that the conflict needs to end. Alexander put emphasis on utilizing humanitarian, security, and other policies to help guide and resolve the issue. Omidvar particularly stressed the importance of integrating these refugees into our society. Both speakers shared a ‘two-way street’ philosophy when speaking about the integration of refugees into Canadian culture. Alexander continued to state how we as a society need to provide refugees with jobs and make feel like their skills are an asset. Also, communication with the refugees will prove to be important down the road as these refugees should be given the right to stay up to date on world news and obtain a sense of belonging. Omidvar agreed with Alexander in saying that a ‘sense of belonging’ is essential in the integration of refugees. The two speakers ended off by looking at the topic with a more international view. Both Alexander and Omidvar stressed that the larger geopolitical issue cannot be solved with donations; however, the concept of ‘additionality’ is key in encouraging the rest of the world to step up and take action.

-Louis Jarvis

Drones and Warfare Plenary

In this session, Steven Lee, a philosophy professor and an expert in military drones spoke alongside Luke Gregory, a government lawyer with an extended knowledge in drone warfare. Steven Lee opened up the plenary outlining attack drones. He spoke about how they are used to fight ISIS and other terrorist organizations. Drone warfare is a new development of military technology that is used by numerous nations around the world. Drones are used for ‘targeted killing’ and also avoid putting troops on the ground. However, even though there may be multiple perks of practicing drone warfare, there are many counter arguments towards this new military style. Drones can be counter-productive and will eventually be obtained by other nations. There are also moral objections towards the use of drones. Drone policies do not adequately protect civilians. Drones can also lead to endless wars and are fundamentally unfair. Gregory continued the presentation stating how many times it is actually healthy to engage in warfare of this variety. However, he continued to explain how this new form can be ‘de-humanizing.’ Drones are machines designed to hunt and kill. Overall, drone warfare provides a false sense of security and should still very much be considered as machines of all out war.

-Louis Jarvis

Environmental Responsibility

This was a cool session. Both speakers agreed that the environment is important, but they also emphasized the power that we hold as youth. Couple sweet tings that were mentioned:

  • 1% loss in reputation would make Walmart lose 1.41 billion dollars
  • fossil fuels are the most talked about cause for global warming, but it’s second to agriculture in terms of harm to the environment
  • there’s a gray area between the government and big business – they’re interlocked
  • we need moments of conciousness “between the tweets” in order to create sustainable change
  • climate change is the biggest challenge kids will face

The plenary ended on a iffy lesson: the most successful people are those that ask the most questions, because they don’t assume they have all the answers.

-Adair Simpson

China and the Economy
The great boom of china might be coming to an end. Reminiscent of the post-war miracle that hit Japan after World War 2, the rise of China’s economy is gradually coming to a halt like Japan’s in the late 1980’s.

  • Shanghai’s stock index down 48% from June peak
  • China’s GDP predicted 7% growth, actually 3-4%. (this means rising unemployment)
  • The Dow down 6%
  • Shanghai composite lost 24% in january
  • Yuan at a five year low

A possible Chinese economic crisis is implied…

Takoda Kemp