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Perspectives | Biweekly Edition

Navigator’s folio of ideas, insights and new ways of thinking

Letter from the Chairman

June 22, 2020
Jaime Watt
Jaime Watt | Executive Chairman
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IN THE BEGINNING of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, a plague has descended on the kingdom of Thebes that ravages crops, livestock and citizens alike. We find Oedipus, king of Thebes, imploring his subjects to stop praying and instead “act as the crisis demands,” to find a cure. The oracle at Delphi informs Oedipus that the “great pestilence” will only be lifted through an act of justice: the previous king’s murderer must be killed or exiled.

Eventually, Oedipus’ quest for justice—and with it, a cure—brings him to the blind prophet Tiresias, who informs him that Oedipus himself is the killer and that his kingdom was founded on incest and patricide. In the end, the king, no longer blind to his own crimes, gouges out his eyes and stumbles from his palace.

While an imperfect analogue for the challenges of COVID-19, Sophocles’ tragedy bears an important lesson for our time: namely, that pandemics reveal the deepest, most entrenched and often least visible injustices of our politics and our society. What’s more, no one is immune to these lessons. From dictators and doctors to schoolteachers and presidents, all are doomed if they remain blind to the revelations of our new reality.

In this edition of Perspectives, the Navigator team sheds some light on that reality and what COVID-19 means for the future of business, issue management and public affairs. We will also look at some of the most important trends in these fields and how they are evolving.

While the pandemic has taken a toll across every industry and walk of life, the response has hardly been even. Certain sectors have proven more agile and less susceptible to the disruptions we all now experience in our daily lives and have cautiously moved to reopen. Others have wildly careened, in the name of economic reward, toward a “back to normal” that surely can no longer exist.

After months of social distancing and shutdown, we emerge to a world which in many ways looks identical to the one we knew before. But looks, after all, can be deceiving and as in Sophocles’ time, the transformative “black swan” is less the pandemic than our response to it.

In the coming weeks, we will release new Perspectives pieces digitally, beginning with a very exciting contribution by Navigator Senior Advisor and former Premier of New Brunswick, Brian Gallant. Brian’s piece examines the drive to rethink the purpose of the corporation and how it will shape business, policy and society. Senior Consultant Jeff Costen has contributed a timely article on the rise of grey media and whether COVID-19 has endowed traditional media outlets with a new relevance.

Some things have not changed. As always, Perspectives will feature interviews with prominent Canadians and Dispatches from our Western and Quebec offices. While the format has evolved to adapt to these times, this edition of Perspectives contains the same level of insight and deep analysis as always, albeit with a new focus. Our hope is as much to arouse new questions as provide answers, and in doing so reveal the opportunities which exist alongside the challenges ahead.

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About the author:

Jaime Watt
Jaime Watt | Executive Chairman
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Jaime Watt is the Executive Chairman of Navigator and a bestselling author. He specializes in complex public strategy issues, serving both domestic and international clients in the corporate, professional services, not-for-profit, and government sectors.

Widely regarded as Canada’s leading high stakes communications strategist, he is a trusted advisor to boards of directors, business and professional leaders as well as political leaders at all three levels of government across Canada. Jaime has led ground-breaking election campaigns that have transformed politics because of their boldness and creativity.

Jaime has been involved in corporate governance education and thought leadership throughout his career and regularly provides expert opinion in challenging governance situations. He is an adjunct faculty member of the Directors Education Program, jointly developed and administered by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He is also a guest lecturer for a variety of Rotman School programs, and the Ivey School of Business at Western University.

Currently, Jaime is the Chancellor of OCAD University. As well, he serves on the board of University Health Network, the Literary Review of Canada, CANFAR and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

He is a past president or chair of the Canadian Club of Toronto, the Albany Club, Casey House – Canada’s pioneer AIDS hospice, Canadians for Equal Marriage, Canadian Human Rights Campaign and Canadian Human Rights Trust among others. Additionally, he is a past director, trustee or governor of many organizations including the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, Stratford Festival, TD Bank Private Giving Foundation, Clean Water Foundation, Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, and the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington D.C.

In his board leadership activities, he has frequently been elected to strategic planning, audit, succession planning, search and crisis management committees.

Deeply involved with efforts to promote equality and human rights issues, he was the inaugural recipient of Egale’s Lifetime Achievement Award and has been awarded the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals for service to the community. He recently received Out on Bay Street’s Leader to be Proud of Award. Jaime has been elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, is a Toronto Heritage Companion, and was named one of Toronto’s most influential citizens.

A highly regarded speaker, Jaime often appears as a public affairs commentator in the media. He is a regular contributor to all CBC platforms across Canada and writes a weekly column for The Toronto Star.

Jaime’s debut book, What I Wish I Said: Confessions of a Columnist, is a national bestseller and is already in its second printing. You can find it online and in bookstores nationwide.

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