Invest in Canada’s Board of Directors brings together accomplished industry leaders representing Canada’s most prominent sectors. Passionate about showcasing Canada on the world stage, they embody the best our country has to offer: innovative mindset, entrepreneurial spirit and strategic thinking.
Two experienced and dynamic business executives are assuming leadership roles at Invest in Canada. Laurel Broten is the new Chief Executive Officer and Karl Tabbakh becomes the Chair of the Board of Directors. Both were appointed by The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development.
George N. Addy
Peggy Van De Plassche
Karl Tabbakh is a lawyer, a business leader and a strategic advisor with over 20 years of international business experience. He is the Regional Managing Partner for Québec and Co-Leader of the firm’s international business strategy for McCarthy Tétrault LLP. Karl is an active advocate and leader in the business community, and currently serves as Chair of the Board of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of directors of the Canada Arab Business Council.
Karl spent eight years in the Middle East and four years in London, UK, where he developed a solid international network and gained an understanding of international business and investments, particularly with respect to the attractiveness of Canada as an investment destination.
An active community leader, Karl supports many non-profit and community service organizations, including as 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.
Laurel Broten is an award-winning CEO, former Ontario Cabinet Minister, lawyer, legislator, advocate and community builder. Laurel served as President and CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc., the agency responsible for investment attraction and export development for the Province of Nova Scotia from 2015 to 2022. During this time, she led the agency’s transformation, delivering significant gains in both the quality and quantity of jobs created in the province. She also spurred material export growth in traditional and emerging sectors and industries.
From 2013 to 2015, as President and CEO of Broten Public Policy International Inc., Laurel provided strategic advice on complex public policy challenges, change management and government transformation to clients in Canada and abroad. This work included conducting a comprehensive review of Nova Scotia’s taxes and regulations.
From 2003 until 2013, Laurel served in a number of senior roles in the Government of Ontario, including Minister of Education, Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Vice-chair of Treasury Board/Management Board, and Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, to the Minister of Health and Long-term Care and to the Minister of Energy.
After graduating with distinction with her Juris Doctor from the University of Western Ontario, Laurel clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada for Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé. Laurel then practiced as a commercial and civil litigation lawyer with three leading Canadian law firms until her election to government in 2003.
Laurel lives in Halifax with her husband and twin teenaged sons.
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, Mr. Addy 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 as well as mergers and acquisitions.
Previously, Mr. Addy was senior partner with Davies Ward Phillips Vineberg LLP, a partner at Oslers LLP, an Executive Vice-president at TELUS, head of the Canadian Competition Bureau 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. Mr. Addy currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Accounting Standards Oversight Board.
Mr. Addy 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 Strategies, a management consulting firm focused on business development and strategy, 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 one-year Fellowship at Harvard University, investigating tourism development in emerging economies.
Previously, Ms. McKenzie 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 federal Crown Corporation Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada). Additionally, she is a former Deputy Minister, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, and spent her early career as an entrepreneur.
Ms. McKenzie 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.
Ms. McKenzie 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 a M.Sc. and a B.B.A. from the IÉSEG School of Management and is a CFA Institute member.
Rob Stewart was appointed deputy minister of international trade effective October 17, 2022.
Prior to his appointment, Mr. Stewart 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.
Mr. Stewart 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).