What went down at the Maclean’s Ideas Summit

In its latest iteration, the event explored our relationship to power in an unpredictable world

May 17, 2024

On a Thursday afternoon in early May, the second Maclean’s Ideas Summit of 2024 commenced with a VIP reception in Luma’s cozy King West dining room. The event, supported by Mastercard Canada, Mizrahi Developments, and Oliver & Bonacini, brought together a highly engaged crowd and a dynamic array of speakers. To welcome guests, editor-in-chief Sarah Fulford spoke to the importance of civic discourse in today’s unpredictable social climate—drawing on the theme of the magazine’s latest issue and inspiration for the night’s event: power. “This is not your grandfather’s Maclean’s magazine,” she said. “We’ve been busy injecting new life and energy into the publication and invite you to join us in this adventure.” 

Sarah Fulford, editor-in-chief of Maclean’s, giving the welcome remarks at Maclean’s Power Summit

To kick things off, Fulford introduced the night’s first panel of speakers specializing in robust civic discourse and intelligent debate. In the opening Fireside Chat, moderator and Maclean’s publisher Jason Maghanoy was joined by Satish Kanwar, former VP of Product Acceleration at Shopify, and Sasha Krstic, president of Mastercard Canada. 

The conversation centred around the theme of building long-lasting power within our communities. Kanwar shared his expertise in entrepreneurship garnered from years of driving strategic growth in the tech sector. His insights into fostering partnerships and a passion for business set the stage for an engaging dialogue. 

“Entrepreneurship is the most inclusive economic opportunity we have in the world,” he said. “In this country, what we need to do is reawaken the spirit of entrepreneurship that built Canada into what it is today. It is the creativity, the drive and the passion of entrepreneurs that shifts and distributes power into our communities—and it’s the way for any Canadian to capture opportunity for themselves.” 

Alongside him, Krstic offered her perspective on leadership and how the world has changed in recent years. “One of the things that has shifted a lot, especially over the course of the pandemic, has been people’s perceptions of prosperity,” she said. “At Mastercard, we recently completed some research that asked Canadians to define prosperity, which is directly tied to our mission of powering economies and powering people, because if you want to empower people, they’ve got to be prosperous.” 

Guests at the Maclean’s Ideas Summit: Power List

Canapés and sparkling wine made for a bubbly intermission as guests engaged in conversation for the Summit’s highly anticipated Marquee Panel. Here, heavyweight lawyer Marie Henein and Randy Boyagoda, adviser on civil discourse at the University of Toronto, took to the stage for a dynamic conversation on the power of truth in the face of rampant disinformation. 

Jason Maghanoy, publisher, Maclean’s.
Marie Henein, a prominent criminal defence lawyer, and Randy Boyagoda, vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, during the marquee panel hosted by Jason Maghanoy, publisher of Maclean’s

Henein, renowned for her prowess in navigating complex legal battles, provided invaluable insights into the importance of truth within the justice system. “When we talk about the concept of legal truth, I think members of the public are misled because we seem to think of truth as an objective and identifiable reality—in a courtroom, it’s not always the case,” she shared. “What we deal with in a courtroom is history, and this idea of objective truth becomes very elusive.” 

In contrast, Boyagoda offered his perspective on fostering civil discourse in an era marked by polarization and how to navigate a climate of disinformation without losing sight of what’s real. His biggest point of advice? “Identify small and measured ways to be a little more skeptical about how technology mediates our lives rather than completely unplugging from it.” 

Sarah Fulford with guests

As the night drew to a close, talking points included the concept of critical thinking, artificial intelligence, Canada’s political influences from the south and more. From examining the sources of power within our communities to confronting the challenges of disinformation, the evening served as a reminder of the importance of engaging in critical discourse to shape a better future for Canada.