Former Senior Correspondent for CBC's The National
A Gemini-winner, Brian Stewart is a critical reporter with a remarkable depth of understanding and an ability to bring compassion and humanity to dire situations. Throughout his career, Stewart worked extensively in crisis and conflict zones and in underdeveloped countries. He was the first North American reporter to focus the world's attention on the Ethiopian famine of 1984; in the Gulf War he was the first Canadian reporter to get into the liberated Kuwait City. He has filed award-winning reports from Somalia; from Sudan, where he covered child slavery during their Civil War; and recent years he extensively covered Canadian foreign policy including the decade long involvement in the Afghanistan war.
Since his retirement from CBC in 2009, Stewart has continued to broadcast frequently as an essayist and current affairs analyst for the network and is now a Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. In 2012 he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.
The Arc of Struggle: Perspectives on Conflict and Human Progress in an Age of Crisis
In this highly topical presentation, Brian Stewart reflects on his almost four decades covering world events during a period when enormous gains have been made in human progress while at the same time the spectre of Failed States continue to destabilize the globe. He argues these estimated 45 nations that keep repeating patterns of unrest and severe social failure and which are now spawning grounds for global terrorist movements represent an unprecedented dilemma for advanced countries like Canada. Despite growing pessimism over past reform failures in such hotspots, there’s a critical need to discover development practices that can finally offer hope to the billion people still trapped without hope within corrupt and broken regimes.
Hope Out of the Ruins: Optimism, Altruism and Courage from Around the World
Across four decades few Canadian journalists have been as involved in covering the world’s wars and humanitarian crises, as Brian Stewart. And yet in this address he continues to reaffirm his confidence in the humbling capacity of humans in the most extreme situations to display conscience, courage and compassion. Stewart who covered the ground-zero beginnings of a new age in International emergency relief interventions in the great Ethiopian Famine of 1984/85 portrays the remarkable evolution of humanitarian assistance in major wars and catastrophes since then. He claims a “Good Pandemic” of caring experienced in recent decades is unprecedented in world history and remains one of the great untold stories of our time. In an address that combines both realism and optimism, Stewart also describes the influential role Canadian volunteer groups and faith based organizations have played in international causes and suggests new ways citizens can still make a substantial difference.
Inside the Vortex: Society and Media in an Age of Crises
In his timely warning, Brian Stewart argues that Global information overload and 24/7 news sensationalism has begun to overwhelm both government and media in our time. Based on his experience of 47 years in journalism, much of it in the front lines of conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, Stewart sees the current pace of events and news crises as unprecedented in history and increasingly dangerous in its implications for Society. He cites evidence that the shock of multiple political “crises” at home and abroad, along with the media’s addiction to conflicts and controversy, has helped heighten the tendency of government to be more defensive and paranoid. In his controversial warning Stewart describes the forces of swirling change that are causing both government and media to lose perspective as the time available to make decisions grows ever shorter in a tumultuous world. He describes what must to done to seek a way out of this “vortex” before politics is reduced to a series of headlines, bumper sticker slogans, and demoralizing conflicts.
Foreign Policy—Canada in the World
In his signature talk, Brian Stewart argues that the choices the government makes on the international stage have a major impact on the lives of Canadians. He explores what the future holds for Canada, as a international brand, in the global marketplace and in leading international institutions. What he sees, in this regard, is a decidedly mixed picture. By detailing our abdication of peacekeeping responsibilities and our current efforts to find a compelling role to take its place, he makes a provocative argument that there are few voices out there making the clear case that Canada matters. Full of surprising information, he outlines current debates over ways to define our National Strategy abroad, with special emphasis on rising priorities in the Asia/Pacific area and suggests what must be done if the Canada is to regain its place as a voice that matters.
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