Special Advisor to the CEO
Honorable Donald Johnston, PC, QC
Lawyer, Heenan Blaikie LLP
Throughout an impressive career, Mr. Johnston has alternated between his two passions, law and politics. A Gold Medallist law graduate at McGill in 1958, he went on to Grenoble to pursue advanced studies in economics and political science. He came back to Quebec and was called to the Bar in 1961, and practiced business and tax law for several years. In 1973, along with Roy Heenan and Peter Blaikie, he founded the firm Johnston Heenan Blaikie, now a major Canadian law firm. In 1978, he was elected Member of Parliament for Westmount. As a member of the Trudeau government, he was successively President of the Treasury Board, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Minister of State for Economic and Regional Development, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
He resumed the practice of law with Heenan Blaikie in 1988 before becoming president of the Liberal Party of Canada in 1990, from which position he helped bring the party to power in 1993. The following year he was encouraged by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, then Prime Minister, to submit his candidacy for the position of Secretary-General of the OECD. Following a vigorously contested competition, he won the post in November of 1994.
The first non-European to occupy this prestigious position, Mr. Johnston began his mandate in 1996 and was elected to a second term in 2001. Over the course of his decade in office, he breathed new life into the world's most influential international economic institution. During his administration, the OECD, representing 30 of the most advanced national economies, expanded its engagement to more than 70 non-members, with special country programs for Russia, China, Brazil and India.
The gravity of Mr. Johnston's achievements has been recognized on numerous occasions. He possesses Honorary Doctorates from McGill University, King's College and the Economics University of Bratislava, Slovakia.