Vladimir Putin

Preventing the next pandemic-like event

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

View Photos

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.

Preventing the next pandemic-like event

David Gold and Melissa Matlow will discuss how the next global pandemic-like event will come from our negative relationship with the environment and wildlife and offer key recommendations on how to prevent it. Nathaniel Erskine Smith will provide the government's position on the actions it is taking to help prevent this event.


David Gold

Chief Meteorologist, IBM Services

Dr. David Gold is Chief Meteorologist for IBM’s Global Business Services. His responsibilities include scientific oversight of the weather and climate analytics enterprise at IBM, a process focused on helping businesses extract maximum value from the enterprise weather data packages and offerings generated by The Weather Company, an IBM Business, as well as proprietary content produced by the GBS Weather and Climate Analytics Center of Competency. His role has a specific focus on the Chemicals and Petroleum and Industrial Products market segments, but he is cross-sector, having helped companies spanning retail, financial services and agriculture.

David holds a PhD and MS in Atmospheric Sciences from Texas A&M University and a BS in Meteorology and minor in Mathematics from the University of Oklahoma. David also holds numerous certifications in data analytics and machine learning. David’s career includes several years as managing meteorologist for a global natural gas and power trading company and a three-year stint at Weather Decision Technologies, where he developed many proprietary machine-learning approaches and platforms for extracting maximum predictive insights from weather data. David earned a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from Texas A&M University.

David is active in academic research, recently co-authoring papers advancing our understanding of how sub-seasonal conceptual models can be leveraged to improve our ability to make long-range forecasts of tornado activity. In addition to expertise and focus on severe weather and its linkage with larger-scale processes, David loves to do research more generally focusing on the interaction between climate and weather processes and how this understanding can be leveraged to improve both the forecast process and clients’ abilities to benefit from it. Finally, David loves to leverage machine learning and statistical modeling to model the relationships between business outcome data and weather.

Nathaniel Erskine Smith

Member of Parliament for Beaches-East York

Nathaniel (Nate) Erskine-Smith was elected the member of Parliament for Beaches-East York in 2015, and is the Team Trudeau candidate in this October’s important election.

Nate regularly attends events around Beaches-East York, volunteers his time in support of local charitable activities, and visits local schools to talk to young Canadians about the importance of participating in the democratic process.

Nate has strong roots in Beaches-East York, where he was raised and has lived most of his life. Nate attended Bowmore and Malvern, grew up playing baseball at Ted Reeve and Stan Wadlow, and his parents Sara Erskine and Lawrence Smith are well respected local teachers. Nate lives in the riding with his wife Amy, a chef and nutrition professor at George Brown College, and the director of the supper club program at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto. They have one son, Mackinlay, born in 2016.

Before politics, Nate was a lawyer at a commercial litigation firm downtown Toronto. He supplemented his practice with volunteer legal work for a range of clients and causes, which included fighting public interest matters in court, and research for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

He obtained his B.A. (Politics) and J.D. (Law) from Queen’s University, where he pitched for the varsity baseball team. After being called to the bar, Nate obtained his B.C.L. (Master of Laws), with distinction, from the University of Oxford where he studied political philosophy and constitutional law, and pitched for both the University and City baseball teams.

As your representative in Parliament, Nate worked hard to bring an end to cannabis prohibition as well as being a champion for the environment. Nate Erskine-Smith and Justin Trudeau will continue investing in clean energy, and building on our progressive vision for the future of Canada.

Melissa Matlow

Campaign Director, World Animal Protection

Melissa Matlow is the Canadian Campaign Director for World Animal Protection an international animal welfare charity with offices in 14 countries. She has been leading successful animal welfare and environmental campaigns for nearly 20 years. Melissa obtained a Bachelors in Environmental Science from the University of Guelph and a Masters in Environmental Studies
from York University. Melissa has authored numerous reports and regularly advises governments and corporations on animal welfare policy.


Naomi Parness

Moderator, Co-Founder of KPW Communications, Former CTV News Reporter

Naomi Parness is an award-winning storyteller, content creator, communications specialist and journalist.

A reporter with over 20 years experience she spent almost a decade at CTV News Toronto. During her time at CTV she held many roles such as City Hall Bureau Reporter, Education Specialist, and general assignment reporter. She was involved in many in-depth investigations and broke numerous stories. She covered elections for CTV News at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels.  She was also live on the ground for many historic and breaking news stories including the G20.

Prior to CTV, Naomi was an anchor and reporter at CHEX TV in Peterborough and a reporter at CTV Two Barrie (then called A-Channel News). While at CTV Two Barrie -- she traveled to Poland to cover the March of The Living. She wrote, reported and helped produce a 5-part series about the Nazi death camps. It won the 2006 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary and the National and Regional RTNDA Dave Rogers Award for Best News Feature.

Naomi also spent two summers working in New York City at CBS News and NY1, where she worked on a nightly show about 9/11.

In 2016, Naomi left news but continued her passion for storytelling. She spent 3 years at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, a Toronto not for profit organization, as the Director of Digital Content and Storytelling. In 2019, she became a Principal and Founder at KPW Communications. Her main practice area is content creation and digital storytelling for a variety of public and private sector clients and several charities.

Naomi is an active volunteer in her community and has sat on the Holocaust Education Week committee for over two decades.