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Why participate?

I have ideas and solutions

Innovation and productivity are the drivers of economic growth. They thrive where diverse networks of businesses, ideas, people and organizations interact; consider the Ideas Festival as the collision of the minds that instigates change.

I care about the future of Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada's aging demographic means young people need to increasingly take on positions of leadership in business and government. The need to collaborate has never been greater to build that critical mass required to attract foreign investment, build economies of scale and repatriate our talent.

The world is changing rapidly everyday

The rapid pace of economic and social change, including the rise of developing countries, is forcing us to more effectively stimulate, communicate and apply new ideas. Importantly, there is no consensus around which ideas should be used.

2013 Speaker's list

Shawn Graham

Former Premier of New Brunswick

Shawn GrahamOn September 18, 2006, Shawn Graham, MLA for Kent was elected New Brunswick’s 31st premier. 

Mr. Graham first served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick with his October 1998 by-election victory in the riding of Kent. He was then re-elected four times in the general elections of June 7, 1999, June 9, 2003, September 18th, 2006, and September 27, 2010.  On November 9, 2010, Mr. Graham announced he was stepping down as Liberal Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition and on March 11th, 2013, he vacated his seat for the new incoming Leader.

As the Liberal Party began the process of selecting a new leader in 2002, Mr. Graham’s energy, commitment and fresh vision for New Brunswick caught the public’s attention. On May 12, 2002, he won a landslide victory to become the leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick. He captured national attention on June 9, 2003, when he and his Liberal team increased the Liberal seat count to 26 from seven of the 55 seats in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. Under his leadership, the party increased its standing in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick to 33 seats from 29 seats following the 2006 provincial election.

Mr. Graham’s Charter for Change – his 2006 election platform - established the foundation for a better New Brunswick. Graham’s vision for the province was straightforward and ambitious: that New Brunswick should join the ranks of the "have" provinces by 2026.

As Premier, Mr. Graham was committed to putting New Brunswick on the road to self-sufficiency by turning the province into a leader in energy conservation and generation, by building the best education system in the country and by making job creation a priority.

The first two-and-one-half years of his government’s mandate were marked by sweeping transformation in education, post-secondary education, health care and taxation. In March 2009, his government unveiled the comprehensive Plan for a Stronger Economy to address the current economic crisis. The main components of the plan were a four-year strategy to return to balanced budgets; $1.2 billion for infrastructure and support for businesses; an aggressive tax reduction package for individuals and businesses; investments in priorities, including health care and education; and responsible management of government expenditures. All the while, Graham effectively steered New Brunswick through the worst global recession in generations.

In July 2007, Mr. Graham assumed the chair of the Council of the Federation, and in September 2009, he co-chaired the Northeastern Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers conference held in Saint John. Graham has led numerous trade missions in Canada and abroad, including a mission to Shanghai, China.

In May 2009, Mr. Graham was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of New Brunswick from which he also holds a Bachelor of Physical Education Degree (1991). He is also a graduate of St. Thomas University having completed a Bachelor of Education Degree there in 1993.


Mr. Graham is currently President of G and R Holdings Inc., an established company providing international advice on public policy and matters of governance, and expert analysis and council on how to solve problems and navigate complex government regulations and procedures.  

Mr. Graham and his wife, Roxanne, both call the Capital City and the rural community of Mundleville “home.”

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- Colin Robertson, Diplomat & Professor

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