Lloyd Axworthy on Canada-U.S. relations to lead UBC Okanagan distinguished speaker spring lineup

Just two days after Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president of the United States, Lloyd Axworthy will be in the Okanagan sharing his insights on a new era for Canada-U.S. relations.

Axworthy, Canada's former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current president of the University of Winnipeg, is the next lecturer in UBC Okanagan's popular Distinguished Speaker Series, sponsored by the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. Axworthy will speak at the Kelowna Community Theatre at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 22.

In an increasingly challenging world, Canada must breathe new life into its foreign policy and revive its international leadership by undertaking new innovative initiatives, says Axworthy. He sees a new U.S. presidency as an opportunity to advance a new internationalism to address the global challenges that we face. It will also present an opportunity to engage our southern neighbour on the major North American issues of energy, water and the situation in the Arctic.

Anyone wishing to attend Axworthy’s free Distinguished Speaker Series lecture should register online at the UBC Okanagan website – visit www.ubc.ca/okanagan and select the Lloyd Axworthy link. More than 400 people had registered online for free seats by Monday afternoon (Jan. 5), so people are advised to register as early as possible to ensure they have a seat.

Axworthy’s talk is followed a week later by Canada's Chief Justice, the Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin. On January 27, Chief Justice Madam McLachlin will speak at the Rotary Centre for the Arts. Appointed Chief Justice of Canada in January 2000, McLachlin was born in Pincher Creek, Alberta, practiced law in Fort St. John and Vancouver, and was a professor at UBC before being appointed as a judge in 1981.

Tickets for Chief Justice McLachlin’s lecture are free and can picked up from the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office or ordered by calling 250-717-5304.

Acclaimed Canadian journalist and national bestselling author Chris Turner will speak at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on Feb. 26.

Turner takes a more optimistic approach to troubling headlines -- stories of melting permafrost and receding ice caps, visions of catastrophe and fears of a problem with no solution. Daring to step beyond the rhetoric of panic and despair, Turner points to the bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Turner’s book The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need (Random House, 2007), was named one of the Globe & Mail’s Best Books of the year, and is the basis for his presentation in Kelowna.

Tickets for the Chris Turner talk are free but will be available starting Jan. 26 from the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office or by calling 250-717-5304.

On Friday, Mar. 27, the Okanagan will hear from one of the world's leading water strategists, Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project in Amherst, Massachusetts.

"The water strategies of the 20th century helped to supply drinking water, food, flood control and electricity to a large proportion of the human population," says Postel. "However, they also dismantled valuable "ecological infrastructure" -- river systems, floodplains, watersheds and wetlands that provide critical services to society."

Postel says one of the biggest challenges the world now faces is figuring out how to satisfy the water demands of a human population headed toward 9 billion people -- while at the same time protecting the aquatic ecosystems that support our economies and so much other life on this planet.

"With rivers running dry, water tables dropping, and droughts spreading around the globe, new strategies are urgently needed," she says. "At the top of the list are the establishment of ‘sustainability boundaries’ that cap ecological degradation and the rapid deployment of technologies and policies to double water productivity by 2025."

Tickets for the Mar. 27 Sandra Postel talk will be available from the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office starting Feb. 27.

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