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Next steps for Canada’s de facto Prime Minister

Tom dAquino, former head of the CCCE, shakes hands with Mexican President Calderón at the Montebello SPP leaders summit, August 20, 2007
Tom d’Aquino, former head of the CCCE, shakes hands with Mexican President Calderón at the Montebello SPP leaders summit, August 20, 2007

Tom d’Aquino leaves his post as president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives this year, replaced by former Liberal cabinet minister, and faithful continentalist, John Manley. In case you were wondering ‘What’s Next?’ for d’Aquino, the SPP architect (and co-author) is moving on, sort of. Here’s a letter he sent to friends this week about his future as an entrepreneur, lawyer (with Gowlings), corporate director and educator. Yes, d’Aquino will be teaching future civil servants at Carleton University’s Norman Patterson School of International Affairs (where he’s considered a bit of a prophet) and University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business.

Here’s the letter. Note that Gowlings, a prominent Canadian law firm, promotes North American energy security and has a very flashy campaign on “smart grid” technology to position itself as the go-to group, specifically as Ontario installs its Green Energy Act but also as Harper and Obama talk smart grids as part of the North American Clean Energy Dialogue, announced by leaders at the Guadalajara summit last August.


After twenty-eight years at the helm of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (formerly the Business Council on National Issues), it is with great pride that I pass the leadership torch to my successor, The Honourable John Manley, on January 1, 2010.

Over the past three decades, I have had the privilege of working with over 1000 chief executives. When I took on the reins of the Council in 1981, it was in its formative stages. Today it is made up of some 150 chief executives and leading entrepreneurs of Canada’s most important enterprises. Member companies represent all major sectors of the economy, manage $4.5 trillion in assets, generate annual revenues of $850 billion and are responsible for the majority of Canada’s private sector exports, investment and training. The Council has been referred to as the most effective organization of its kind in the world.

On January 1, 2010, I begin a new and exciting chapter in my life.

Entrepreneurial activities

As Chairman and Chief Executive of Intercounsel Ltd., a private company, I will engage in a variety of entrepreneurial activities that will focus on applying the best of judgement, experience and strategy to transformational change. Chief executives, fellow entrepreneurs and others seeking competitive advantage in the marketplace of national and global ideas will be our clients and, in some cases, our partners.

In the execution of Intercounsel’s mandate, I will be joined by Intercounsel’s newly appointed President, Susan Peterson d’Aquino, who this year retired from a distinguished career in the Public Service of Canada. Her posts included five years with the Privy Council Office (Priorities and Planning), and seventeen years with the Department of Finance where, as an Assistant Deputy Minister, she worked directly with five successive Ministers of Finance. Most recently she served as Associate Deputy Minister at the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Prior to entering the Government of Canada, she worked with the Conference Board of Canada and played a leadership role in the early stages of the evolution of modern corporate governance practice. She is a graduate of the Harvard School Advanced Management Program and of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School Directors Education Program.

Taking up her post on January 1 as Intercounsel Vice President is Cheryl Eadie who, for the past seven years, has performed superbly in a senior support capacity to me at the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Ms. Eadie will be primarily responsible for Intercounsel’s finances and administration and will provide support both to me and to our President.

Intercounsel’s private office is located in the heart of the National Capital at 700 Sussex, Penthouse One.

As a lawyer

On January 1, 2010, I take up my post as Senior Counsel and Partner at Gowlings, Canada’s largest law firm, with international offices in London and Moscow. I will chair the firm’s Business Strategy and Public Policy Group and help spearhead the expansion of the firm’s global practice. The principal areas of my practice will be finance, international trade, energy and the environment. The commitment to Gowlings will command one third of my time.

As a corporate director

I will continue to serve on a select number of Boards of Directors. At present, these include Manulife Financial Corporation, headquartered in Toronto; CGI Group Inc., headquartered in Montreal; and Coril Holdings Ltd., headquartered in Calgary.

In addition, I will continue to chair the National Gallery of Canada Foundation which serves Canada’s pre-eminent visual arts museum, one of the finest institutions of its kind in the world.

As an academic and educator

In addition to periodic lecturing, I will be associated with two leading schools: as Distinguished Visiting Professor, Global Business and Public Policy Strategies at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs; and as Honorary Professor at The University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business focussing on Leadership.

Thomas d’Aquino
OttawaDecember14, 2009