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CIC Toronto: Trade and Human Rights: Balancing Canada’s Interests and Obligations

October 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

Free – $20

Presented by the Canadian International Council – Toronto Branch in partnership with WeirFoulds LLP



Jon Allen, Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Senior Fellow, CIC

Peter L. Biro – Founder, SECTION1 & President and CEO, Newcon Optik

Dr. Christopher Parsons – Senior Research Associate, Citizen Lab

Moderator: Marcus Kolga – Filmmaker, Journalist & Human Rights Advocate


Please find tickets and sign-up here:



Schedule: 6:00-7:30 panel discussion and Q&A, 7:30-8:00 networking session with complimentary charcuterie, beer & wine.


While Canadians often feel our country has a good reputation abroad, Canada has found itself trapped and threatened in the current international order, which is fast-changing and questions the extent to which Canada can rely on some of its key allies. Canada was left largely isolated in a Twitter-induced spat with Saudi Arabia over a human rights concern, and is struggling to address tense relations with China, which still holds Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in prison on spurious charges. How can Canada and Canadian foreign policy best navigate this challenging global landscape? To what extent are Canadian products and exports being misused abroad? How should we react to major political changes in some of our closest allies and largest trading partners? In what ways might a new government in Canada respond to these challenges?


Speaker bios:

Jon Allen – Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Senior Fellow, CIC

Jon Allen (LL.B., University of Western Ontario, 1976; LL.M., International Law, University of London School of Economics, 1977) has had a distinguished career in the Canadian foreign service. In addition to postings abroad in Mexico City (1983-85), New Delhi (1989-92) and Washington (1997-2001), Mr. Allen spent his early career in the Legal Bureau where he represented Canada in disputes under the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and worked in the areas of human rights, humanitarian and environmental law. Mr. Allen also held the positions of Director General, North America Bureau (2001-2004), Minister (Political Affairs) at the Embassy of Canada in Washington (2004-2006) and Assistant Deputy Minister for the Americas (2010-2012). From 2006 to 2010, he was Ambassador of Canada to Israel. From 2012 to 2016 he was Canada’s Ambassador to Spain and Andorra and was Chargé d’affaires a.i. to the Holy See from December 2012 to July 2014. Mr. Allen is currently a senior fellow at the CIC, and also at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

Peter L. Biro – Founder, SECTION 1

Peter Biro is a lawyer, businessman, community leader and father. He is the Founder of SECTION 1, a civic engagement initiative dedicated to cultivating an ethic of responsible democratic citizenship; President and CEO (2011-Present) of Newcon Optik, a leading manufacturer and supplier of electro-optics and tactical optics to government, military and law enforcement institutions in over 80 countries, Chair Emeritus and Past Chair of the Jane Goodall Institute, and Chair of the Advisory Board of tech start-up RightBlue Labs Inc. He was previously a Partner at two of Canada’s leading full service “Bay Street” law firms – WeirFoulds LLP and Goodman and Carr LLP, practising law from 1993 to 2011.

Peter has always been an ardent civil libertarian and human rights advocate. He has worked on exposing and combat police corruption (City of Toronto), the recovery of Nazi-looted valuables from victims and survivors of the Holocaust, human rights in the work-place, freedom of expression (esp. vis-à-vis the competing public interest in security), LGBTQ marriage equality rights and the ethical treatment of animals and protection of the planet’s eco-systems. Peter is the Editor of Constitutional Democracy Under Stress – A Time For Heroic Citizenship, forthcoming from Mosaic Press.

Christopher Parsons – Senior Research Associate, Citizen Lab

Dr. Christopher Parsons received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Guelph, and his Ph.D from the University of Victoria. He is the Managing Director of the Telecom Transparency Project and a Senior Research Associate at Citizen Lab, in the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy with the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the privacy, security, and political implications of third-party access to telecommunications data, data privacy, data security, and national security. In addition to publishing in academic journals and presses on topics such as national security, internet privacy, and government surveillance practices, he routinely presents findings to members of government and the media. His work has been recognized by information and privacy commissioners, Canadian political parties, and national and international non-profits as advancing the state of privacy discourse.

Marcus Kolga – filmmaker, journalist & international human rights activist

Marcus Kolga is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, human rights activist and a leading Canadian expert on foreign disinformation and digital advocacy.

He frequently writes and comments on Russian and Central and Eastern European issues and disinformation in leading Canadian and international media.

Marcus helped lead the Canadian campaign for Magnitsky human rights sanctions legislation and has actively helped similar efforts in Estonia, Latvia, Sweden and Australia. He has spoken and testified in the UK, Australian, Canadian and Estonian Parliaments about Magnitsky Sanctions, Russian disinformation and Interpol reform.

He is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute Center for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad.


October 15, 2019
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
Free – $20


WeirFoulds LLP
66 Wellington Street West Suite #4100 (Mason Boardrooms)
Toronto, ON ON M5K 1B7 Canada
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CIC Toronto Branch