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Derek H. Burney, OC, LLD

Senior Strategic Advisor

Derek H. Burney


T:+1 613.780.8657

F:+1 613.230.5459

Derek Burney assists clients in dealing with cross-border and domestic issues as well as trade and investment policy matters. Prior to joining our Ottawa office, Mr. Burney played a central role in Canada’s economic and political development during a career that involved senior positions in both the Canadian public and private sectors.

Mr. Burney entered the Canadian Foreign Service in 1963. He served for seven years in Japan and for three years as Ambassador to Korea. At headquarters, initially as Assistant Deputy Minister for United States Affairs and then Associate Undersecretary, he helped launch the Free Trade initiative.

In 1987, Mr. Burney became Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, where he was directly involved in the negotiation and successful conclusion of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Burney served as Canada’s Ambassador to the United States from 1989 to 1993. He served as the Prime Minister’s personal representative in the preparations for the G-7 Summits in 1990, 1991 and 1992 and played a central role in the negotiations that led to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the conclusion of the Acid Rain Treaty.

Mr. Burney’s career in the private sector began in 1993 upon his appointment as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Canada International (BCI). He oversaw successful investments by BCI in the United Kingdom, the United States, Asia and Latin America. From 1999 to 2004, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of CAE Inc., enabling it to become a leading independent provider of commercial aviation training.

Mr. Burney headed the Conservative Transition Team following the Canadian federal election in early 2006 and, in October 2007, Mr. Burney was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be on the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, which delivered its report in January 2008. In September 2008, he was appointed as the Chair of the Selection Committee for the Government of Canada’s Canada “Excellence Research Chairs” program.

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  • Education
    M.A., Queen’s University, 1964
    B.A.(Hons.), Queen’s University, 1962
  • Speaking engagements
    • “Beyond NAFTA: Securing our economic future,” remarks to Association of Labour Relations Agencies, Montréal, July 30, 2012.
    • “An Economic Check-up: Complacency May Kill the Cat,” remarks to Association of Canadian General Counsel, Québec, May 31, 2007.
  • Rankings and recognitions
    • Chancellor, Lakehead University, 2013
    • Officer of the Order of Canada, 1993
    • Public Service of Canada’s Outstanding Achievement Award, 1992
    • Honorary doctorates of law from Lakehead, Queen’s, Wilfrid Laurier, Carleton and Windsor universities
  • Directorships


    • Advisory Board, Paradigm Capital Inc.
    • Director, TransCanada Pipelines Limited
    • Chairman, International Advisory Board, GardaWorld
    • Governor, The Ottawa Hospital


    • Chairman of the Board, Canwest Global Communications Corp.
    • Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bell Canada International (BCI)
    • President and Chief Executive Officer, CAE Inc. (1999-2004)
    • Lead Director, Shell Canada
    • Chairman, NB Power