David Collenette

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.

David Michael Collenette

Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Don Valley East
In office
October 25, 1993  June 28, 2004
Preceded byAlan Redway
Succeeded byYasmin Ratansi
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for York East
In office
February 18, 1980  September 4, 1984
Preceded byRon Ritchie
Succeeded byAlan Redway
In office
July 8, 1974  May 22, 1979
Preceded byIan Arrol
Succeeded byRon Ritchie
Personal details
Born (1946-06-24) June 24, 1946
London, UK
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Penny Collenette
EducationB.A., M.A. (Political Science), LL.D Glendon College, York University, Toronto. David subsequently received his M.A. in 2004 and LL.D in 2015 from the same university.
ProfessionBusiness Advisor

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.


Collenette was one of only three cabinet members to endorse Jean Chrétien in the 1984 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election, along with Charles Caccia and Roméo LeBlanc.[1]

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".[2]

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.[2] 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.[2][3]

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.[4][5]

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.[6]


  1. Jeffrey, Brooke. (2010). Divided loyalties : the Liberal Party of Canada, 1984-2008. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-4426-6018-2. OCLC 762397337.
  2. Desbarats, Peter. "Somalia cover-up: A commissioner's journal", 1997.
  3. Collenette Resigns Defence Post. Canadian Encyclopedia. Last Accessed March 4, 2015.
  4. David Collenette to head Ottawa mayor's transportation task force. CBC News. January 19, 2007.
  5. Moving Ottawa: The New Transportation System. City of Ottawa. Last Access April 10, 2009.
  6. "Special Advisor, High Speed Rail". 2014-12-05. Retrieved 2015-11-01.
23rd Ministry – Cabinet of John Turner
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
cont'd from 22nd Min. Minister of State (Multiculturalism)
22nd Ministry – Second cabinet of Pierre Trudeau
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
  Minister of State (Multiculturalism)
cont'd into 23rd Min.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.