It was only fitting at the convocation ceremonies for graduates of York’s Glendon College – founded to provide a liberal arts education for potential public service leaders – that the honorary degree recipient challenge the class of 2011 to unleash the winds of change in Canada’s public institutions.
He also called on them to become ambassadors for their school – the only bilingual liberal arts college in Canada.
Left: Jacques Menard receives congratulations from York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Chancellor Roy McMurty (seated) at convocation ceremonies held at Glendon on Saturday
Jacques Menard, president of BMO Financial Group Quebec, alluded to divisive disputes over public policy in the past and told graduates the country’s future will “rest on our ability to shape new public policies in areas such as health care, education, sustainable development and sound public finance.
“Canada, I feel, won’t be making much traction in these realms until your generation comes forward and instills new thinking in the public policy process in our country,” Menard said. “Get involved, make things happen and stay true to your values and beliefs.”
A distinguished business leader who has served in a number of volunteer and public policy organizations and is an officer of the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec, Menard said he hoped that this year’s Glendon grads would redefine public politics and public service and help bring back a sense of conviviality to the debate over health care, education, sustainable development and sound public finance.
“None of these are easy,” he said. “If they were, we would already be well engaged down a path of renewal in this country and you know that we’re not quite yet.”
On the subject of career guidance, Menard was equally passionate. “Whatever your choice, I know for certain that many of you will become the leaders of tomorrow – and if the question of leadership is always important , it is even more the case in periods of change and uncertainty such as the ones we know today.” Menard said that, although these times are not without risk, they are occasions for graduates to make a name for themselves and progress as individuals and members of society.
Left: Menard addresses Glendon grads
“Your country needs you – your energy, imagination and courage – in order to reclaim its position as an exemplar in today’s new modern democracies” he said. “Because indeed, many of our collective institutions need to be rethought and reshaped…. We need a healthy wind of social innovation in entrepreneurship that you can provide in areas of collective interest namely health care and education, illiteracy and the fight against poverty…. Government and public service matters in Canada, they embody our society’s values and aspirations rather than purely individual and financial pursuits.
“Good government must be an objective of ours as it equates to making a difference in the lives of our constituents, in our communities, which is what I urge you to do through your respective careers.”