Board of Directors
Invest in Canada’s Board of Directors is composed of accomplished public and private sector leaders who represent government and Canada’s most prominent industries. Passionate about showcasing Canada on the world stage, they combine their unique skills and expertise to provide advice and stewardship to our organization.
Karl Tabbakh is a lawyer, a business leader and a strategic advisor with over 20 years of international business experience. He is McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s regional managing partner for Québec and co-leader of the firm’s international business. Karl is an active advocate and leader in the business community. He currently serves as board chair at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and sits on the Board of Directors of the Canada Arab Business Council.
Karl spent 8 years in the Middle East and 4 years in London, UK, where he developed a solid international network. There, he gained an understanding of international business and investments, particularly with respect to Canada’s attractiveness as an investment destination.
An active community leader, Karl supports many non-profit and community service organizations, including as a member of the Centraide/United Way campaign, director of the National Circus School and co-president of the Fitspirit Father/Daughter Ball.
Born in Syria, Karl immigrated with his parents to Canada at age 10. He holds an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School, a BCL from the Université de Montréal and a B.Comm from Université Laval in Québec City. Karl is fluent in French, English and Arabic.
Rob Stewart was appointed deputy minister of international trade effective October 17, 2022.
Prior to his appointment, Rob served as deputy minister of public safety for 3 years. During this time, he provided leadership on a variety of issues related to national security, community safety and countering crime, Indigenous policing, firearms, border security and emergency management, including requests for federal assistance related to the pandemic and major natural disasters.
Rob has spent most of his public service career at the Department of Finance Canada, starting in 1993. He held the role of the Government of Canada’s finance deputy for the G7 and G20 and for the Financial Stability Board from 2016 to 2019. He provided leadership and policy advice to the government on a wide range of financial sector and international trade and finance matters. He was previously the assistant deputy minister of financial sector policy for 2 years, prior to which he held the position of assistant deputy minister, international trade and finance for 4 years. Before joining the Department of Finance Canada, Rob worked at Export Development Canada and in the Canadian sport system.
He holds a BA from Carleton University (1981) and an MBA from the University of Ottawa (1987).
George N. Addy
George N. Addy is the Chairman and Principal of Advacon Inc., a strategic advisory firm.
Building on a career as a lawyer and his experience in the telecommunications sector, as the Chairman of Advacon, George offers strategic and corporate development advice to Canadian and international clients in many sectors of the economy. Advice covers a broad range of business-critical issues, including investment risk, market participation options, communications strategies, compliance and governance issues, corporate strategic direction setting, public and private sector implications of government initiatives, laws, regulations, strategic alliances, market conduct, and mergers and acquisitions.
Previously, George was senior partner with Davies Ward Phillips Vineberg LLP, a partner at Oslers LLP, an executive vice president at TELUS, head of the Competition Bureau Canada and a partner at Gowling & Henderson LLP. He has served as a board member at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and has lectured at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. George currently serves as vice chair of the Accounting Standards Oversight Board.
George earned the Institute of Corporate Directors ICD.D designation in 2006 and his LLB and BA from the University of Ottawa.
Michele McKenzie is principal of McKenzie Business Strategies, a management consulting firm focused on business development and strategy that is based in Nova Scotia. She has worked for a range of clients including Chemonics International, the Trans Canada Trail, Tourism Nova Scotia, Cabot Links and the Halifax Partnership. She is a director of the Trans Canada Trail, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. and the Property Valuation Services Corporation. In 2017, she completed a 1-year Fellowship at Harvard University, investigating tourism development in emerging economies.
Previously, Michele was a senior consultant with the USAID-funded Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project based in Amman, Jordan, and was the president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada). Additionally, she is a former deputy minister at the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, and spent her early career as an entrepreneur.
Michele has been recognized as one of Canada's Most Powerful Women – Top 100 by WXN and was named by Hotelier magazine as one of the 10 Most Influential Leaders in Canada's Hospitality Industry in the Past 25 Years.
Michele is a graduate of Dalhousie University and holds an honorary degree from Humber College.
Peggy Van De Plassche
Peggy Van De Plassche is an experienced technology, operations, strategy and finance executive with expertise in new venture development, business management and restructuring, investment management, strategic planning and financial analysis.
A finance professional by trade, Peggy started working in technology 15 years ago, before fintech was a word. She is a founding partner at Roar VC, which invests in Canadian Data AI startups catering to the financial services industry. Prior to launching Roar VC, she was senior advisor at Portag3 Ventures as well as VP Innovation at CIBC. Peggy has also worked at CGI and BMO, founded 113 Ventures, invested in tech companies, and consulted for large organizations and startups.
She has been involved in the community as head of committee and volunteer for several non-profits, is a board member for Zoom.ai, FrontFundr, Hackergal, the Digital Finance Institute Advisory Board, the National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada Advisory Board, and acts as an advisor for the AI Fintech Holt Accelerator and Portag3 Ventures.
Peggy holds an M.Sc. and a B.B.A. from the IÉSEG School of Management and is a CFA Institute member.
Ms. Blais served as Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations from 2017 to 2021. She also served on the UNICEF Executive Board where she was elected as Vice-Chair in 2019.
Ms. Blais began her career as an Art Theft Analyst at Interpol. She then served as Program Manager for the National Archives Development Program from 1992 to 1996 before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1996. Abroad, she was first posted to the Washington Embassy, then to Tokyo and Paris. In Ottawa, she held the positions of Director of Public Diplomacy and Executive Director of Human Resources Management with over 2,000 rotational employees around the world.
In 2014, Ms. Blais was appointed Consul General in Atlanta and temporarily returned to that position in 2021 to help Canada face the protectionist surge in the United States. In 2022, she was named to the Business Council of Canada in 2022 as senior special advisor.
Among her personal commitments, Ms. Blais is dedicated to the advancement of women in business and diplomacy. She launched the first North American summit of women entrepreneurs. She is currently writing a book on women in leadership.
Ms. Blais received a B.A. from McGill University.
Mr. Ferguson is a Senior Vice President and Practice Leader at Optimus SBR. He has advised on numerous government economic policies and programs, established Indigenous partnerships, and created lasting impacts on the financial, cultural and environmental bottom lines of many organizations.
As president and CEO of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) between 2012 and 2018, Mr. Ferguson was responsible for promoting and building the city’s reputation, driving the growth of the city, and attracting visitors and investment to Edmonton. He also served as Assistant Deputy Minister of the ESG Secretariat for the Government of Alberta between 2021 and 2022.
Mr. Ferguson holds two degrees from the University of Alberta: a B.A. in Economics and a BCom in Finance. He also holds the GCB.D designation from Competent Boards' ESG program.
As Executive Vice-President and Head of CDPQ Global and Global Head of Sustainability, Mr. Blanchard is responsible for coordinating CDPQ’s international operations and oversees CDPQ’s international offices.
Before joining CDPQ in September 2020, he was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York from 2016 to 2020. From 2017 to 2020, he sat on Canada’s North American Free Trade Agreement Council. Prior to that, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McCarthy Tétrault, one of Canada’s leading law firms.
Mr. Blanchard is an active member of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, launched by His Majesty King Charles III; the Canada-India Business Council Advisory Board and the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Development Finance. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal.
In addition to a Bachelor of Laws from Université de Montréal, Mr. Blanchard holds an LLM in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He holds two master's degrees from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs: one in public administration, the other in international affairs. He was called to the Québec Bar in 1992 and received the Lawyer Emeritus distinction in 2016.
Mr. McAlpine recently retired as Senior Vice President, Government and Industry Relations with Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
Current agri-food sector directorships include the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (University of Saskatchewan) and the Food From Thought Advisory Committee (University of Guelph).
For 15 years at Maple Leaf Foods, Mr. McAlpine led the company’s engagement with government and industry partners on matters of public policy, programs in support of innovation and corporate investment, regulatory affairs and international trade.
Mr. McAlpine served as Deputy Minister of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries from 2002 to 2005. Prior to that he obtained significant experience with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as Director General of the International Trade Policy Directorate; Executive Director of the National Farm Products Council; Director of the Grains and Oilseeds Division; and Deputy Director of Multilateral Trade.
Mr. McAlpine received an M.A. (Hons) degree in Economics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and has also studied at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.
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