Peter Michael Pitfield, PC OC CVO (born June 18, 1937) is a former Canadian Senator and senior civil servant.
He is the youngest son of the late Canadian financier Ward C. Pitfield and the late Grace MacDougall Pitfield, daughter of Canadian ice hockey player Hartland MacDougall. His brother, Ward C. Pitfield, Jr., was Chairman of the family Investment Banking firm, Pitfield, MacKay, Ross, which later became Dominion Securities, now the Investment arm of the Royal Bank of Canada. Another brother was stockbroker Robert Hartland Pitfield (d. 2004), father of Robert H. Pitfield Jr (married to former Toronto city councillor Jane Pitfield) His nephew, Ward Elcock is the former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and former Deputy Minister at the Department of National Defence (Canada).
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Pitfield graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York at the age of 16. His SLU degree, in science, was followed by a degree in law from McGill University. He went to Ottawa to join the civil service in 1959 where he worked as an administrative assistant to Justice Minister E. Davie Fulton.
He subsequently obtained a postgraduate degree in public law, and held various positions in the civil service. In 1966 he became assistant secretary to the Privy council and in 1969 secretary of the Division of planification. He became Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada and Secretary to the Cabinet under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau from 1975 to 1979, and again from 1980 to 1982. Because of his perceived close association with Trudeau and the Liberals, he was replaced during the ministry of Joe Clark, but returned following the 1980 election that returned Trudeau to power.
As head of the public service, Pitfield played a senior role in the government's successful efforts to patriate the Canadian Constitution. In recognition of his service, he was appointed to the Canadian Senate as an independent at Trudeau's recommendation on December 22, 1982. The appointment was highly controversial and was seen as emblematic of the growing financial, partisan, and cultural issues surrounding the Ottawa civil service.
He also served from the mid-1980s until 2002 as vice chairman of Power Corporation, and is now Director Emeritus of the company.
His two decades of service to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation were recognized by the establishment of the Michael Pitfield Chair in Cardiac Surgery at the Institute. In recent years, Pitfield has suffered from Parkinson's disease and has worked to raise awareness of the condition.
Pitfield resigned from the Senate on June 1, 2010.
He is the father of three children (Caroline, Thomas and Kate) and was predeceased by his wife Nancy in 1999. He has lived in Westmount, Quebec for many years.