The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Craig Worden, Brett Chang, Jo Vos, Andrea Paine & Vanmala Subramaniam
Brett Chang Co-Founder, Leaf Forward
Brett is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Leaf Forward, an early-stage cannabis venture capital fund and accelerator.
Prior to starting Leaf Forward, Brett was a Senior Policy Associate at Uber which involved him working intimately with governments globally on crafting and implementing new and innovative regulations. His work has contributed to the adoption of new regulations in over 10 jurisdictions, including the City of Toronto, Province of Quebec, Province of Alberta, and State of New South Wales, Australia.
Prior to Uber, Brett co-founded Adrenaline Digital, Canada’s first digital agency focused exclusively on online advocacy. After successfully exiting from Adrenaline in 2014, Brett went on to start LineSix, an innovative alternative transit service that earned him a recognition by The Globe and Mail as one of ‘Ten Torontonians who got things done in 2014’.
Most recently, Brett was featured in the National Post's Growth Op as one of the "Under 30: Must-know professionals from the Canadian cannabis industry.".
Jo Vos Managing Director, Leafly Canada
Jo Vos is Managing Director at Leafly, the world’s leading technology platform that helps people discover and find cannabis. In 2018, Jo launched Leafly Canada and has built a team who are focused on the expansion of Leafly’s platform, supporting the awareness, accessibility and innovation of the legal market. Under her leadership, Leafly.ca has become Canada’s fastest growing cannabis information resource, with more than 7.7 million annual users. Jo is a sought-after thought leader, speaking at numerous cannabis conferences and has been featured in dozens of publications around the world, including the New York Times, Globe and Mail, CBC, CTV, Toronto Star, Maclean’s, and many more.
Prior to Leafly, Jo led marketing efforts at Konrad Group, one of Canada’s fastest growing technology firms. During her tenure, she spearheaded engagements for a wide range of brands and enterprise clients including Nike, McDonalds, Deloitte, Hudson's Bay, and Toronto-Dominion Bank. She also launched and scaled a number of the firm’s internal group of companies including BrainStation, Quantum Coffee and Techvibes, while leading the company through various expansion stages. Jo also serves on the Board of Directors of Matthew House, an organization that provides shelter and settlement services for refugee claimants in Canada.
Andrea Paine VP Government Relations, Aurora
Andrea Paine is the National Director of Government Relations at Aurora Cannabis, a producer of medical cannabis and cannabis oils under license from Health Canada and one of the world’s largest and fastest growing cannabis companies with sales and operations in 25 countries across five continents.
She is the lead director for Federal and provincial government relations, community relations with municipalities and local non-profit associations, and is leading collaborative GR efforts in Europe.
Before joining Aurora, in May 2017, Andrea was a Citizenship Judge in Montreal, where she was a member of the Citizenship Commission at Refugees, Immigration and Citizenship Canada.
Andrea also has a long professional career in politics and government. She worked for over twenty-five years with cabinet Ministers in Quebec provincial departments of Food and Fisheries, Transport and Education, and Federal Ministers of Human Resources and Social Development, Heritage, Health, as well as with the Government House Leader. While in the Government House Leader’s office, Andrea was responsible for all legislation going through Canadian Parliament, Parliament committee hearings, negotiating with the opposition parties and stakeholder groups.
During her time at Health Canada, Andrea was responsible for the drafting and successful passage, through the House of Commons and the Senate, of the Canadian Consumer Protection Act, and was part of the team that brought forward the first medical cannabis regulations in Canada. She also ran as a Federal candidate in Montreal’s West Island during the 2004, 2006 and 2008 Federal elections.
Vanmala Subramaniam Business Reporter, Financial Post
Vanmala Subramaniam is a trilingual business/investigative journalist with almost a decade of experience storytelling for television, radio and print.
She began her coverage of the cannabis industry in late 2016 as the Money & Economics Editor for VICE Canada and became the Financial Post's designated cannabis reporter last September. Vanmala has produced hundreds of articles analyzing the valuation, health, and long-term potential of the cannabis sector including a 3,000 word investigation into Canopy Growth Corporation's operations in British Columbia.
Prior to VICE and the Financial Post, Vanmala was an investigative journalist with the CBC, where she was sent to be on location in Indonesia to produce and direct a hour-long episode about the wrongful conviction of Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman for Canada’s premier investigative current affairs program, the fifth estate. In 2014, she reported on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 for CBC (TV, radio). She was also nominated for a Canadian Screen Award (2016) for her investigative work on a fifth estate report into former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi.
Vanmala grew up in Malaysia and has a Bachelor in Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from University of Toronto's Trinity College.
Craig Worden President, Pollara Strategic Insights
Craig leads Pollara’s research divisions and the development of their research techniques and products. He provides actionable, insightful counsel to all clients, applying expertise gained over more than 20 years of conducting quantitative and qualitative research for an extensive array of private, public and not-for-profit sector clients. He is committed to providing creative, customized research solutions that provide clarity of understanding and direction to our clients. Craig devotes special attention to leading Pollara’s cannabis research practice, which conducts custom research for public and private sector clients and produces Cannabis in Canada – the country’s definitive subscription-based tracking study about public and user attitudes, behaviours, and intent.
Craig began his research career at Angus Reid Group/Ipsos-Reid, and went on to found and manage public affairs practices at Leger and Angus Reid Public Opinion/Vision Critical before joining Pollara in 2008. He has appeared in print and broadcast media on hundreds of occasions, providing commentary on public opinion trends, elections, and research techniques. Craig holds a BA Honours in political science from Carleton University, and a MA in political science from Brock University.