Trust me, I’m a celebrity from the Internet

On day 2 of #CPRS2019 #EvolvingExpectations we learned that trust in Canada is plummeting, you may soon marry a robot, there’s a lot of stuff that should not go in your vagina, and, on a more serious note, when everything goes really, really wrong, you need empathy, humanity, and a good plan.

It all kicked off with our morning keynote, Bruce MacLellan, CEO of Proof Inc. who presented some key findings from the Proof Inc. CanTrust Index that should be of great concern to us all. Simply put, Canadians are losing trust in everything and everyone except friends and family. As the authours remark on the study’s page:

After three years of stability, the 2019 CanTrust Index reveals a significant drop in Canadians’ trust in major institutions, organizations, leaders and many sources of information. Canada is at an inflection point. It’s up to leaders, businesses and institutions to take action and become trust builders.


Nowhere is this more evident than in Alberta, where trust in people, governments, the PM, bosses, news media and even not-for-profits has plummeted, especially as compared to the rest of Canada.


While today may look grim to some Canadians, futurist Stephen Dupont of Pocket Hercules, a Minneapolis communications agency, invited us to adopt a futurist’s mindset to plan for the future we want or prefer.

Ready or not, Dupont says we’re not far from the day we will work alongside robots and interact with coworkers based on Artifical Intelligence (AI). Some may see that as a threat, others might welcome more intelligence from coworkers. Dupont then challenged the room to imagine human-AI relationships and what that might mean for society, law, and our ideas about sentience. If actor Will Smith’s date with Sophia the Robot is any indication, we may have a ways to go on that front.

Dating aside, what about meat grown in a lab, driverless semi trucks, rising water levels due to climate change, and more. Dupont encouraged everyone to adopt a futurist’s mindset which he described as imagining all the possible futures without judgment, then choosing the ones we prefer and planning for them. Dupont says a futurist tries to not make assumptions – we may not have democratic elections, or use fossil fuels, or grow animals for food. In opening your mind to the possible eventualities, you can plan for the worst and best case scenarios. 

We went from future-gazing at seemingly ridiculous far-off  “sci-fi” possibilities to goofiness in the here and now in the $4.2 trillion wellness industry. University law professor and best-selling author Timothy Caulfield led us us through a wild romp of goofy snake oil solutions being popularized by celebrities, the most notorious of whom is Gwyneth Paltrow and her pseudo-science online store Goop. The question of whether Paltrow is wrong about everything is rhetorical, but the answer is almost assuredly yes.

But that doesn’t stop her from popularizing dangerous practices such as inserting rocks into vaginas, steaming vaginas, and no doubt a plethora of other ill-advised vaginal activities. Don’t even get me started on the vampire facials and the gluten-free nonsense.

Caulfield’s presentation, though humorous, underscores a weakness for solutions, relief, and longevity in our celebrity-obsessed culture, and there’s more than a little danger in wandering away from science.

Moving from the surreal to the intensely real, that afternoon we heard from Kim McKechney, Vice President, Community Engagement and Communications at the Saskatchewan Health Authority. McKechney relayed the experiences he and his team had in the aftermath of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

It is now known that sixteen people died and thirteen were injured in that horrible tragedy in April 2018. At the time McKechney and his colleagues were working in a newly merged provincial health care authority, had no precedent for such massive and intense global scrutiny, and had to juggle patients’ rights, family rights, their right to privacy, difficulties in verifying information, and the world’s concern and desire to know what happened to these young men.

The key takeaway, in my view, was that you can and should plan and drill and prepare, but, in the final analysis, empathy for and being guided by the families was the only way forward.

This second day of learning was filled with laughs, tears, learning and camaraderie. Just like day one. Wish you were here.


Doug Lacombe, MBA is president and founder of Communicatto Inc., a digital marketing agency. Drawing on almost 30 years of experience in media, web publishing and technology; Doug and his team work with businesses and associations to integrate traditional and digital communications, with a focus on content marketing, advertising, and social media.