Speaker Bios

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Chairman & Moderator:

Perry Spitznagel
Chairman, Bennett Jones LLP

Perry Spitznagel is Vice-Chairman of Bennett Jones, a former longstanding Managing Partner of the Calgary office and a senior corporate lawyer with extensive national and cross-border experience in a broad range of matters. Perry has acted for clients in some of the largest transactions in Canada, including many of Canada’s and North America’s largest national and cross-border financings and mergers.

He has been recognized by Financial Post Magazine as one of the 25 most influential people in corporate Canada. He is also recognized by Chambers Global, the Legal Media Group, Best Lawyers in Canada, the IFLR 1000 and The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading lawyer in his areas of expertise.

Perry is a director of public and private companies, a past member of the Alberta Securities Commission Advisory Committee and a past Co-Chair of the Pipestone Securities Law Conference. He is also a past director of Alpine Canada, the governing body for alpine ski racing in Canada, and is the current Chair of WinSport, which manages the legacy assets and programs of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Samara Centre for Democracy, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening Canada’s democracy. A former international ski racer, Perry remains active in skiing.

Perry is a graduate of McGill University, BA (Economics), 1979, with great distinction, and Osgoode Hall Law School, LLB, 1982.

He is a frequent speaker and has chaired national and international conferences on a variety of topics. Perry speaks French and German.


Jason Kenney
Premier of Alberta

Premier Kenney committed himself to public life in the early 1990s as President of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, where he fought hard for lower taxes and fiscal responsibility.

In 1997, at the age of 29, Calgary voters elected him to Parliament where he worked to unite conservatives nationally. During his time in Parliament, Jason was voted the “best overall,” “hardest working,” and “most knowledgeable” MP by his colleagues in Maclean’s Magazine’s annual survey.

Mr. Kenney served as Minister for Multiculturalism for eight years in Prime Minister Harper’s government, reaching out to new Canadians as a strong advocate for pluralism. He became Canada’s longest serving Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, welcoming over 1.3 million newcomers to Canada while implementing comprehensive reforms to Canada’s immigration, refugee and citizenship programs, leading the National Post to call him “perhaps Canada’s best immigration minister ever.”

From 2013 to 2015 Mr. Kenney served as Minister of Employment and Social Development, where he implemented a “skills for jobs” strategy to increase support for skilled trades and apprenticeship learning. In 2015, he served as Minister of National Defence, deploying Canada’s military to combat ISIS in the Middle East, and to Ukraine to help modernize that country’s defences.

In 2017 Mr. Kenney was elected Leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party with a mandate to reunite the province’s divided free enterprise political movement. He then helped to lead the creation of the new United Conservative Party, and was elected its Leader, becoming Leader of the Opposition.

In April, 2019 he led his party to an election victory with 55% of the popular vote in a campaign focused on economic growth, and advocating a fair deal for Alberta in the Canadian federation. He was sworn-in as Alberta’s 18th Premier on April 30, 2019.

David Dodge
Former Governor of the Bank of Canada

A native of Toronto, Mr. Dodge received a bachelor’s degree (honours) from Queen’s University, and a PhD in economics from Princeton.

During his academic career, he taught economics at Queen’s University; at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; at the Faculty of Commerce at the University of British Columbia; and at Simon Fraser University. He also served as Director of the International Economics Program of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Mr. Dodge has been awarded honorary degrees from a number of Canadian universities. In 2009, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

During a distinguished career in the federal public service, Mr. Dodge held senior positions in the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Anti-Inflation Board, and the Department of Employment and Immigration. After serving in a number of increasingly senior positions at the Department of Finance, including that of G-7 Deputy, he was Deputy Minister of Finance from 1992 to 1997. In that role, he served as a member of the Bank of Canada’s Board of Directors.

In 1998 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Health, a position he held until his appointment as Governor of the Bank of Canada.

Mr. Dodge, appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada, effective 1 February 2001 for a term of seven years, retired on 31 January 2008. From July 2008 to June 2014, he served as Chancellor of Queen’s University. From 2009 to 2015, he was a member of the board of directors of Canadian Utilities Limited, ATCO Limited and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Dodge is Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP one of Canada’s leading law firms. He also serves on the board of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and Chairs the National Council of the C.D. Howe Institute.

Christy Clark
Former Premier of British Columbia

Christy Clark was the Premier of British Columbia for over six years. Throughout her tenure, Ms. Clark demonstrated the strongest performance of any Canadian Premier for economic growth, fiscal management and job creation.

As an advisor at Bennett Jones, Ms. Clark offers clients insights tied to her experience in infrastructure, Canada-Asia trade, natural resources, social licence and indigenous relations.

As Premier, Ms. Clark earned a well-deserved reputation as a consensus builder both within the Cabinet, and outside it. Her management style was to carefully set out a plan that included hard goals and deadlines for each Ministry and monitor progress through regular reporting to Cabinet and Committees which she chaired.

Her legacy is characterized by her determination to plan for future generations. She left British Columbia with a significantly diversified economy, a greater diversity of markets, a plan for a new, clean energy supply, billions of dollars of new infrastructure, and a dramatic reduction in the burden of public debt that will be borne by future generations of British Columbians.

When she left office, British Columbia had been Canada’s economic leader for three years running – the first time that has happened since the 1960s. BC went from being ninth in job creation to first among provinces. And, after inheriting a deficit of $1.2 billion, Ms. Clark’s government went on to balance five consecutive budgets. Her last budget included $52 billion in revenues and boasted a $2.8 billion surplus. When she retired, BC was on track to eliminating its operating debt by 2020 – the first time since 1976. BC was also the only Canadian province with a AAA credit rating.

Ms. Clark retired from political life in 2017 as the longest serving female Premier in Canadian history and the only woman in Canada ever to be re-elected.

Sean Willy
President & CEO, Des Nedhe Group of Companies

After a 20-year career in the resource industry with an extensive history in executive leadership, community development, corporate responsibility and human resources, Sean Willy was appointed President & Chief Executive Officer of Des Nedhe Group of Companies in August 2017.

With roots in the Denesuline and Metis communities, Sean brings an understanding of the expectations and needs of Indigenous people. Growing up in a mining household, he experienced life in communities across the Canadian Shield – from the Northwest Territories to Nunavut to Alberta to Saskatchewan.

In his career, Sean has developed and implemented some of the most progressive and innovative Indigenous Inclusion and value-added CSR strategies for resource players such as Rio Tinto and Cameco Corporation. He has always strived to ensure Indigenous peoples are seen as a full partner in long-term relationships. This led to Sean building partnerships in Australia, the United States and throughout Canada.

Sean is currently a member of the Canadian government’s Indigenous Innovation Housing Committee. He has served as past chair of the Mining Association of Canada’s Indigenous Affairs committee, past co-chair of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, past chair of the successful Northern Career Quest and now devotes much of his current spare time working with global Indigenous communities on economic development strategies.

Sean had two children and lives with his wife Melissa in Saskatoon.

Vivian Krause
Researcher & Writer

Vivian Krause is a Vancouver researcher and writer who has done ground-breaking research on the science and the funding behind environmental and elections activism. Her research has been reported in more than 100 media stories, including television coverage by CBC, and front-page coverage in both The Globe and Mail and National Post.

Vivian has testified to committees of the House of Commons and the Senate. Her work has prompted an investigation by Elections Canada, a public inquiry by the Alberta government, and a CRA audit of the political activity of registered charities. Of the 42 audited charities, 41 were ruled as non-compliant by the CRA.

Trained in nutrition, Vivian holds a Science Degree from McGill University and a Masters of Science from the Université de Montréal. She has worked on diabetes with the Algonquin people in Northern Quebec and spent a decade with the United Nations in Guatemala and Indonesia.

Upon returning to Canada, Vivian joined the salmon farming industry. It was her experience on the front-lines of the activism against that industry enabled her to see parallels between the campaigns against forestry, aquaculture, and the anti-pipeline “Tar Sands Campaign” that aims to land-lock Canadian oil and natural gas, keeping Canada out of the global energy market. During 2017 and 2018, Vivian also completed an extensive exposé of a major scam in the charitable sector. Her work was reported on the front pages of The Globe & Mail on October 24 & 25, 2018.

Edward Sims
President & CEO, WestJet

Ed Sims is the President and Chief Executive Officer for WestJet. As President and CEO, Ed is responsible for both the strategic direction of the company and the day-to-day operations. Ed first joined WestJet in May, 2017 as Executive Vice-President, Commercial.

Since starting in the United Kingdom travel industry, Ed has enjoyed a varied career spanning more than 30 years in tourism and aviation across the European and Australasian markets. Prior to WestJet, Ed held senior commercial and operational leadership positions within the Tui, Thomas Cook, and Virgin Groups and served for ten years at Air New Zealand where he led the international wide-body business. His most recent role was as CEO of Airways, New Zealand’s air navigation service provider.

Throughout his career Ed has demonstrated that an emphasis on peoples’ development and transparent communication are the stepping stones to success. Drawn to WestJet’s culture, Ed guides his team based on professional values of accountability, resilience, authenticity, aspiration, and humility.

Dr. Karen MacNeill, Ph.D, R. Psyc
Founding Partner & Chief Product Officer, headversity

Dr. Karen MacNeill has the unique experience of having both competed and consulted on the world stage. She is a registered psychologist and performance consultant with over 18 years of experience helping Olympians, organizations and business leaders consistently bring their best in high pressure situations. She has worked with athletes competing at the last four Olympic Winter Games, and competed herself at the international level for over a decade. Karen applied her knowledge and expertise in her capacity as manager of sport psychology services for the Vancouver Olympic Committee’s medical team at the 2010 Olympic Games. Most recently, she was the lead mental performance consultant for Team Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.

As part of the day to day routine, Karen thrives having a broad scope of practice. She is a founding partner and chief product officer with headversity, a company that measures, tracks and trains resilience in the workplace. Dr. MacNeill has also fulfilled contracts with Copeman Healthcare Center, Canadian Olympic Committee, and multiple fortune 500 companies to name a few. In addition, Karen has been a sessional instructor for the Haskayne School of Business MBA programs teaching a course on high performance leaders and has coached many top-level executives towards consistently executing in their leadership roles.

Karen provides leadership and contributes to her professional community having acted as the chairperson for Sport Psych Alberta, served on the managing council for Canadian Sport Psychology Associations, is a trustee for the Canadian Athletic Foundation, and a member of Tourism Calgary’s Calgary Sport and Major Event Advisory Committee. Karen’s career achievements and volunteer efforts have been publicly recognized as she was a recipient of the Avenue Top 40 under 40 award and was a finalist for the 2018 Women of Inspiration award. Her passion and drive for helping others be their best also translates into her life as a mother, wife and outdoor enthusiast.

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