Board of Directors
The Rideau Hall Foundation is governed by a diverse and committed group of leaders from across Canada.
The Right Honourable David Johnston was Canada’s 28th governor general. During his mandate, he established the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF), a registered charity that supports and amplifies the Office of the Governor General in its work to connect, honour and inspire Canadians.
Today, he is actively involved as Chair of the RHF Board of Directors. In 2018, he was appointed Colonel to the Royal Canadian Regiment. Prior to his installation as governor general, Mr. Johnston was a professor of law for 45 years, and served as President of the University of Waterloo for two terms, Principal of McGill University for 3 terms. He was president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec.
He was the first non-U.S. citizen to be elected chair at Harvard University’s Board of Overseers from which he graduated in 1963 magna cum laude and was twice named all-American in hockey and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He holds degrees from Harvard, Cambridge and Queen’s and has received more than three dozen honorary degrees or fellowships. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 books. He was named Companion of the Order of Canada in 1997. He has chaired or served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees, and has served on the boards of more than a dozen public companies. He has been married for 56 years to Sharon and they have 5 daughters and 14 grandchildren.
Huguette Labelle is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of Ontario. She served for a period of nineteen years as Deputy Minister of different Canadian Government departments including Secretary of State, Transport Canada, the Public Service Commission and the Canadian International Development Agency. A former Chancellor of the University of Ottawa and former Chair of Transparency International, she also serves on several Boards and Advisory Groups including the Advisory Group to the OECD Secretary General on Anti-Corruption and Integrity, the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, the Board of the Aga Khan Museum and the Board of Global Financial Integrity.
Zeba Ahmad served as past board chair of the Royal University Hospital Foundation and the Saskatoon Community Foundation. She is also a former inaugural chair of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party (formerly Gold Medal Plates) Saskatoon, a former board member of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, and most recently, a volunteer for the Thundering Ahead Campaign for Wanuskewin Heritage Park and board chair for the Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation. Zeba has received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2007 from the Governor General and was named a Top 100 Alumni of Influence, College of Pharmacy Nutrition in 2014. She was also the recipient of the Leadership Saskatoon Community Leadership Award in 2016.
James Baxter was the founding Editor and Publisher of iPolitics. Over a journalism career that spanned 30 years, Mr. Baxter has been an award-winning sportswriter, foreign correspondent, political journalist, bureau chief and editorial writer. He has degrees in journalism, international relations and business, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2007-8. In early 2020, he joined the Assembly of First Nations and has been advising the National Chief and his team on crisis communication during the Covid pandemic. Mr. Baxter has also been a long-time governor of Ashbury College and served as the chair of the school’s foundation through it’s recent $10-million capital campaign. The foundation also stewards the college’s endowed funds and oversees its financial aid programs. He has also served a Director of the Board of the Michener Awards Foundation for the past decade and his election to the RHF Board will help to strengthen our partnership. He lives in Ottawa with his wife, Sarah, and three children.
As President and CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors, Rahul Bhardwaj leads a Canadian not-for-profit association committed to improving national outcomes by growing the board leadership and governance capacities within Canadian businesses, agencies and not-for-profits.
In addition to The Rideau Hall Foundation, Mr. Bhardwaj currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Network of Director Institutes, as well as the Leader Council at the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at the Ivey Business School, Western University.
In 2012, Mr. Bhardwaj’s commitment to city building was recognized when he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has been named one of “The 50 Most Influential” people in the city by Toronto Life magazine and was named to the Quadrangle Society at Massey College and The Ultimate List of Social CEOs on Twitter. His vision for Toronto and Canada has made him a sought-after presenter, speaker and media commentator locally, nationally and internationally, particularly on issues relating to leadership and governance.
Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is president emerita of the University of Calgary after serving as president and vice chancellor. Prior to her term as president, Dr. Cannon was dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. Dr. Cannon is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as an elected foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering. She served as co-chair of the Business-Higher Education Roundtable, was a past chair of Universities Canada, and was a member of the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) in addition to many other boards and advisory councils. Currently, she is a member of the Board of Trustees the Aga Khan University, a Fellow of the Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies and a Director of the Gairdner Foundation in addition to being a corporate director and seed-stage investor.
Her Excellency Janice Charette is High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Permanent Representative of Canada to the International Maritime Organization. Prior to this, Mrs. Charette served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from October 2014 to January 2016 where she served as the principal public service advisor to Canada’s Prime Minister. Previously, she was Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet as well as Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Mrs. Charette is a champion for mental health and wellness in the workplace. In 2008, she was national Chair for the United Way’s Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign, raising over $36 million for communities and national health charities across Canada. She was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2013 and 2014.
Charmaine Crooks, CM, is a five-time Olympian, Entrepreneur and Community Leader.
Ms. Crooks is based in West Vancouver, with over 20 years Governance experience as a Director on several National and International non-profit and public boards.
She is President and founder of NGU Consultants Inc (1997), providing strategic advisory and corporate development to a variety of sectors including health, technology, sports and major events.
Ms. Crooks was recognized in 2018 as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Top 100 by the Women’s Executive Network.
Paul Davidson joined Universities Canada in May 2009 as President and CEO where he leads a dynamic team dedicated to advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of Canadians. As the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, Universities Canada has also advanced international student mobility, indigenous reconciliation, equity, diversity and inclusion on campus, and student mental health. Prior to joining Universities Canada, Mr. Davidson was the executive director of World University Service of Canada (WUSC) a leading international development agency. Mr. Davidson also held senior positions in Canadian book publishing including as executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers. Mr. Davidson led the Toronto office of a prominent government relations firm after having served as a political advisor to Ontario’s Leader of the Opposition, Treasurer and Deputy Premier. Mr. Davidson holds an MA from Queen’s University where he studied southern African history, and a BA from Trent University, where he was in the first class of the Trent International Program.
Paul Desmarais III was born in Montreal, Canada. He graduated with a BA in Economics from Harvard University and obtained his MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau. He began his career in 2004 at Goldman Sachs in New York City. In 2010, he worked for Imerys in Paris, where he functioned in both Corporate and Division level strategy. In 2012, Paul Desmarais moved to Toronto to work for Great-West Lifeco Inc. in risk management. He is presently the Chairman and CEO of Sagard Holdings. As part of his functions on the investment platform, he is Chairman of Wealthsimple and Dialogue and a board member of Koho. As part of his responsibilities as a Senior Vice President at Power Corporation, he sits on the boards of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert and Imerys. He also sits on the Boards of Black North, the Glenbow, and Alpine Canada.
Dr. Mark S. Dockstator is the Former President of the First Nations University of Canada. A member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, he is currently an Associate Professor, Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, at Trent University and Director of the Indigenous Knowledge Initiative at Queens University. He received his Doctorate of Laws Degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University where, in 1994, he was the first First Nations person to graduate with a doctorate in law. His doctoral dissertation, entitled “Toward an Understanding of Aboriginal Self Government”, is a blend of Indigenous and Western knowledge and was used as a foundation for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples final report. Dr. Dockstator has served as founding Chairman of the First Nations’ Statistical Institute, Senior Negotiator and Researcher for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, President and CEO of Rama Economic Development Corporation, Special Advisor to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People and Special Advisor to the Chief Commissioner of the Indian Land Claims Commission, to name a few.
Judy was born on her grandparents’ trapline at Moose Lake, south of Whitehorse, Yukon. For more than 40 years, Judy has promoted and advanced Aboriginal rights and governance in the Yukon. As Chair of the Council of Yukon First Nations, she was instrumental in self-governance and land claims negotiation with the Government of Canada. In 1995, Prime Minister Jean Chretien named her Commissioner for the Yukon Territory, the first native person appointed to the position. Judy is renowned for her ability to build bridges between peoples, notably by raising awareness of First Nations culture by creating the annual Commissioner’s Potlatch. As a leader and elder of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, she has ensured that First Nations communities are key players in the territorial economy.
Udloriak Hanson is the Vice President, Community and Strategic Development at Baffinland Iron Mines. She is the Former Deputy Minister of the Department of Economic Development and Transportation (Government of Nunavut) and the former Chief Operating Officer of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the land claims organization representing Nunavut Inuit. Ms. Hanson served as Senior Advisor to the Clerk of the Executive Council for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on Aboriginal Issues and Arctic Economic Opportunities. Ms. Hanson also served as acting Executive Director and Special Advisor to Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national organization representing Inuit across Canada. She led the development of Qaujisaqtiit Society, the Nunavut territory’s first charitable consortium of Inuit non-profit organizations. She sits on the Board of Directors for The Circle of Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. She is also a Board member with Arctic Children and Youth Foundation and is a proud member of the Canadians for a New Partnership. Ms. Hanson is a founding Board Member of Annaumakkaijiit Community Foundation in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
Sarah Irving is the Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer of Irving Oil. Ms. Irving completed her BA (cum laude) at Dartmouth College in 2010 and her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in 2014. After completing her undergraduate degree, Sarah worked for Deloitte in their New York strategic consulting practice before joining Irving Oil. Ms. Irving serves on the Advisory Committee of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth College and the IWK Health Centre Charitable Foundation. She is a strong proponent of cancer research and cancer care and helped to create the Arthur, Sandra and Sarah Irving Fund for Gastrointestinal Immuno-Oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Paul is a Co-founder of LaBarge Weinstein one of Canada’s earliest boutique high-technology business law firms. Paul has a strong interest in innovation and is focused on businesslike solutions for small and medium-size companies which he believes are the future and backbone of a successful Canadian economy. Paul has a strong commitment and interest in community and development being one of the founders of the TransCanada Trail, counsel and Board member to a number of Canadian charities and not-for-profit’s including the TransCanada Trail, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Community Foundations of Canada, Bruyere Hospital, the Canadiana Fund, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and multiple private foundations. He has been awarded both Jubilee Metals and appointed to the Order of Canada for his leadership in the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. He has been on advisory committees for innovation and education for Queens University, the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Algonquin College and is a board member of the University of Fredericton. Paul’s practice focuses on taxation and associated disputes and he holds an LLM from Osgood Hall in ADR. Paul is a great believer in using new technologies to provide access and opportunity to all Canadians is the best way to make a strong Canada.
Carol Anne Lee is Chair and Co-founder of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation. With long standing family ties to the history of Chinatown, she is strongly committed to the revitalization of the area. Ms Lee has a Bachelor of Commerce from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She serves on several boards and organizations including the Harvard Business School Canadian Advisory Board, the Faculty Advisory Board of Sauder Business School and the BC Achievement Foundation. She was also a member of former federal Finance Minister Morneau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth and a member of the Leadership Council of the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in Waterloo. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia and an Honorary Doctorate of Technology from BCIT and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Dalton McGuinty, a lawyer, served as Premier of Ontario from 2003 to 2013 when he led the Ontario Liberal Party to three successive election victories. Since leaving politics, Mr. McGuinty has served as a Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and a Senior Advisor to PWC Canada. He is presently engaged as an advisor and director on corporate boards. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
Evan Price serves as an Advisor to the Saipem Onshore Division – CO2 Capture. He is also co-owner and director of Auberge Saint-Antoine, a Relais & Châteaux hotel in Quebec City, Chair of IOU Financial, an online North American fintech company, and a director of Solifor, the largest private timberland owner of Québec. Mr. Price is Chair of the non-profit Monastère des Augustines, a monastic wellness center, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Royal 22nd Regiment. He holds a B.Sc. in Forestry Engineering from Université Laval, an MBA from INSEAD (France), and a Certificate of Corporate Governance from Université Laval.
Sanford (Sandy) Riley is the Chief Executive Officer of Richardson Financial Group Limited. Mr. Riley was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his business achievements and community service in 2003. In 2013 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Manitoba in recognition of his legacy of excellence in the worlds of business, sport, education and community service. Mr. Riley currently serves as a Director of Molson Coors Brewing Company and Canadian Western Bank. He is the Chairman of the Board of Richardson GMP Limited, The North West Company and The University of Winnipeg Foundation. Mr. Riley served as Chairman of the 1999 Pan Am games. A former Olympic athlete, he has also been inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Business Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of Queen’s University in Political Science and Osgoode Hall Law School.
Dr. Deep Saini began his term as Dalhousie’s 12th President in January 2020. A career academic and accomplished researcher in plant biology, Dr. Saini most recently served as vice-chancellor and president of the University of Canberra in Australia from 2016-2019. He grew up in India and has a Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Physiology from the University of Adelaide in Australia. Before joining Dalhousie, he had previously worked at four of Canada’s other U15 universities, including as a vice-president of University of Toronto and principal of the university’s Mississauga campus, dean of the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, and director general of the Plant Biology Research Institute at the Université de Montréal. His awards and recognitions include honours from the Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists, Nanjing University, the Sikh Foundation of Canada, the Royal Society of New South Wales, the Punjab Academy of Sciences and the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. He was featured in India Abroad’s “2011 Power List” and is the recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Stephen Smith, one of Canada’s leading financial services entrepreneurs, is the Chair, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of First National Financial Corporation. Mr. Smith is Chair of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, which he owns in partnership with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. He is also Chair of both Duo Bank and Peloton Capital Management. Mr. Smith is a member of the Board of Directors of the C. D. Howe Institute, E-L Financial Corporation and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. He is also Chair of Historica Canada, producer of the Heritage Minutes and publisher of The Canadian Encyclopedia. In 2015, Queen’s University announced the naming of The Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in honour of Mr. Smith and his historic $50-million donation to the school. Mr. Smith holds a B.Sc (Hons.) in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University and a M.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics. In 2017, Queen’s University awarded him an Honourary LL.D.
Nancy Southern is Chair & Chief Executive Officer of ATCO Ltd., as well as Executive Chair of Canadian Utilities Limited. In addition to her business leadership, Ms. Southern has long played a leading role in advocating on social issues of global importance – most notably, the rights of Indigenous peoples and the role of women in business. Over the course of her career, Ms. Southern has served with some of the world’s most prestigious and influential organizations such as The U.S. Business Council, a member of the American Society of Corporate Executives, a Canadian Member of the Trilateral Commission and a member of the South Australian Minerals and Petroleum Expert Group. Ms. Southern has been recognized on Fortune’s list of the “50 Most Powerful Women”, Financial Post Magazine’s “The Power List”, Fortune’s list of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business: The Global 50” and named as one of “The 50 Most Important People in Canada” in Maclean’s Magazine.
Frank Vettese is the former Managing Partner and Chief Executive of Deloitte Canada. He also served as Chair of the Americas Executive. Recognized by the United Nations and Catalyst Canada for his commitment to the advancement and empowerment of women in the workplace, Mr. Vettese was the co-founder of the Canadian Women’s Initiative at Deloitte. He also served as Deloitte Canada’s Chief Inclusion Officer, concurrent with his responsibilities as Managing Partner and Chief Executive, between 2016 and 2019. During this time, Mr. Vettese oversaw a significant and sustained increase in the number of women and other diverse leaders promoted and admitted to the partnership. Mr. Vettese is a member of various community boards, including: Trustee of SickKids, Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year Advisory Board, the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, and the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Schulich School of Business.
Stephen Wallace grew up in an Atlantic Coast naval family and has worked for over 30 years in international affairs and public administration. A deputy minister in Canada’s federal government, he held a number of senior appointments with the Canadian International Development Agency, the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Department of Canadian Heritage. He served as Secretary to the Governor General until the end of 2017. After retiring from public service, he has served as executive advisor to Deloitte Canada, senior fellow of Massey College and board director for a number of commercial and charitable organizations.
Benjamin P. Watsa is the President and Founder of Marval Capital Ltd. (“Marval”). Mr. Watsa has two decades of experience in the investment industry. Marval is an independent investment firm that invests in misunderstood and under-researched small and mid-cap. companies. Its two equity funds focus on India and North America. Prior to Marval, Mr. Watsa was a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Lissom Investment Management Inc., spent five years in New York as an investment banker in the Financial Institutions Group at Banc of America Securities and at Cochran Caronia Waller. Mr. Watsa serves as; director of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, director of Dalton India Fund Ltd., director of Dalton Kizuna (Japan) Fund Ltd., the advisory board of Impression Ventures, and director and Vice Chair of the Investment Committee for the Rideau Hall Foundation.
The Rideau Hall Foundation is governed by a diverse and committed group of leaders from across Canada.
Amit Chakma, Robert Harding, The Honourable Kevin Lynch, Ross McGregor, Frank Rochon, Khalil Shariff, Victor Thomas, Annette Verschuren, Marie Wilson