Sneha Girap (Editor)

David Collenette

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Preceded by  Alan Redway
Preceded by  Ian Arrol
Spouse  Penny Collenette
Succeeded by  Yasmin Ratansi
Succeeded by  Ron Ritchie
Education  York University
Preceded by  Ron Ritchie
Name  David Collenette
Party  Liberal Party of Canada
Succeeded by  Alan Redway
Role  Minister of Transport

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Awards  Association of Canadian Port Authorities Medal of Merit

David Michael Collenette, PC (born June 24, 1946) is a former Canadian politician. From 1974, until his retirement from politics in 2004, he was a member of the Liberal Party of Canada. A graduate from York University's Glendon College in 1969, he subsequently received his MA from the same university in 2004. He was first elected in the York East riding of Toronto to the House of Commons on July 8, 1974, in the Pierre Trudeau government.


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Collenette served as a Member of the Canadian House of Commons for more than 20 years. He was elected five times and defeated twice. He served in the Cabinet under three prime ministers - Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Jean Chrétien. He held several portfolios:

  • Minister of State-Multiculturalism (1983–84);
  • Minister of National Defence (1993–96);
  • Minister of Veterans Affairs (1993–96);
  • Minister of Transport (1997–2003) and
  • Minister of Crown Corporations (2002–03).
  • During the constitutional debates of the early 1980s, he served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House leader and was assigned by the government to Westminster to represent Canada's interests.

    Minister of National Defence

    As Minister of Defence, Collenette oversaw the reorganization, restructuring and re-engineering of the department as part of the federal government's deficit cutting. During this time the Canadian Forces were involved in challenging assignments in the Balkans, Haiti and Somalia.

    During his tenure, Collenette was at the centre of the controversy over the Somalia Affair. He was especially challenged on the government's decision to curtail the inquiry into the affair.

    During an interview on CTV Television, Collenette sought to correct those who suggested that he supported General Jean Boyle who was fighting to save his career amidst allegations he oversaw the alteration of documents. As Commissioner Peter Desbarats later summarised, he indicated "{Collenette} perhaps has already decided to sacrifice Boyle in order to protect himself".

    In October 1996, Collenette resigned from cabinet citing a letter that he had written on behalf of a constituent. An access to information request revealed Collenette broke ethical guidelines by writing the letter to the Immigration and Refugee Board. Collenette cited this violation as his official reason for resigning from cabinet but his resignation also served to remove him from the ongoing Somalia Affair controversy.

    Minister of Transport

    After a few months on the back benches, he was re-admitted to Cabinet in July 1997 and was appointed Minister of Transport. In this portfolio his most important decisions were those that led to the merging of Canadian Airlines and Air Canada, the divestment of CN Rail operations in Northern Manitoba to the favour of OmniTRAX, and the pseudo-commercialisation of Port Authorities under the Canada Marine Act. He also successfully argued in the late 1990s for the first substantial increase in funding for Via Rail since cuts in 1981, 1990 and 1994.

    On September 11, 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) closed down U.S. airspace after a series of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. After the FAA closed down U.S. airspace, Collenette acted swiftly and shut down Canadian airspace in order to take in diverted U.S.-bound international flights, launching Transport Canada's Operation Yellow Ribbon. Ultimately, 255 flights carrying 44,519 passengers were diverted to 15 Canadian airports. In the time that has followed, Collenette has applauded the way Canadians responded to the crisis. He, Chrétien, U.S. Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, and other provincial and local officials presided over Canada's memorial service to mark the first anniversary of 9/11 at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland and Labrador. There, he helped Chrétien unveil a plaque, commemorating the acts of kindness seen for the diverted passengers not just in Gander, but across the country.

    On January 29, 2004, Collenette announced his retirement from politics and went on to work in academia and as a consultant in the private sector. He is a member of the board of directors of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (North America) and of Harbourfront Corporation in Toronto. He is also a member of the board at Toronto East General Hospital, the Foundation Campaign Executive Team and of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs. Collenette is also a Senior Counsellor with Hill & Knowlton Canada, a public relations firm.

    City of Ottawa Transportation Task Force Committee

    On January 19, 2007, Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien named Collenette as the head of a Transportation Task Force Committee in which in a six-month period it reviewed the transportation issues across the city. It produced a report which suggested light-rail service expansion throughout the city of Ottawa and several communities in Eastern Ontario as well as portions of the Outaouais region in Western Quebec. His report also suggested one to two new interprovincial bridge crossings between Gatineau and Ottawa over the next 30 years.

    Ottawa Centre

    His wife, Penny Collenette was selected to be the Liberal candidate in the riding of Ottawa Centre for the 40th Canadian federal election and lost to incumbent NDP MP Paul Dewar.

    Province of Ontario Special Advisor, High-Speed Rail

    On October 30, 2015 the Government of Ontario announced that David Collenette would be the Special Advisor for High-Speed Rail in the Windsor - Toronto corridor.


    David Collenette Wikipedia

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