Third Annual Clerks and Cabinet Secretaries Conference on Policy Innovation - Conference Program

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Accelerating Public Sector Innovation to Achieve Impact for Canadians

November 14, 2017

Ottawa, Ontario, Canadian Museum of Nature

Conference co-hosts

Mr. Michael Wernick

Michael Wernick became Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on January 22, 2016.

Mr. Wernick joined the federal public service in 1981. Since then he has worked in various departments and agencies, including the Department of Finance Canada, Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada, and the Privy Council Office.

He has held several senior leadership roles, including:

  • Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet (2014-2016)
  • Senior Advisor, Privy Council Office (2014)
  • Deputy Minister, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (2006- 2014)
  • Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultations, Privy Council Office (2003-2006)
  • Assistant Deputy Minister and Associate Deputy Minister, Canadian Heritage (1996-2003)

Mr. Wernick holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Economics from the University of Toronto. He served on the Board of Governors of Carleton University from 2010 to 2017.

In 2012, Mr. Wernick received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Mr. Ray Gilmour

Ray Gilmour was appointed Associate Deputy Minister of Executive Council in May 2016.

Prior to Ray’s current appointment, he served as Deputy Minister of Treasury Board and Finance, Infrastructure, Sustainable Resource Development and Municipal Affairs.

He also served as the Assistant Deputy Minister of Corporate Operations for Alberta Health.

Before joining the Alberta government, Ray was Commissioner of Corporate Services for the City of Medicine Hat and prior to that he spent fifteen years in the banking and financial services industry.

Ray graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSA) before going on to complete a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). He is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD).

Ms. Laura Lee Langley

Laura Lee Langley is the Deputy Minister of the Office of the Premier, Deputy Minister of Treasury and Policy Board, Clerk of the Executive Council, Head of the Public Service, Chief Executive Officer of Communications Nova Scotia, and the Public Service Commissioner.

She began her career as a journalist in the early 1980s and worked in both radio and television as a reporter, anchor and producer. In the late 1990s she made a career transition to public relations and communications, developing expertise in communication for leaders, employee engagement, and strategic management–interests she discovered while completing a Master of Public Administration Degree at Dalhousie University in 2002.

In 2004, Laura Lee was appointed the first Assistant Deputy Minister of Communications Nova Scotia. In January 2010, she was appointed Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage–later Communities, Culture and Heritage. She was appointed Public Service Commissioner in October of 2013, and added Deputy Minister of the Office of the Premier and accompanying responsibilities in June of 2016.

Laura Lee has served as a board member for various professional and community organizations and is known as a champion for diversity and inclusiveness. She has been recognized by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission as a Champion of the Workplace for her work in this area.

Laura Lee believes in life-long learning and in maximizing the power of people in systems. In June 2015 she completed a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University, which serves her well in her current roles with the Nova Scotia government.

Master of ceremonies

Ms. Christiane Fox

Christiane Fox was appointed Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth in June 2017. She previously held the position of Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Communications and Consultations at the Privy Council Office (PCO) from March 2015 to June 2017. Prior to that, she had been Director of Operations, Policy, in the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Relations Secretariat and Director General of Communications at the Privy Council Office.

Prior to her arrival at the PCO, she had spent 10 years at Industry Canada, now Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. She worked in Communications, in the Deputy Minister’s Office, the Minister’s office and in Science Policy. She also spent a year with the Competition Policy Review Secretariat, as the Director of Communications and Consultations.

Christiane started her career as a Communications Advisor at Industry Canada in 2002.

Christiane has a BA in Mass Communications and Psychology from Carleton University, and is a graduate of the University of Ottawa’s Masters Certificate Program in Public Administration.

Conference moderator

Mr. Irfhan Rawji

Irfhan Rawji is a Principal with Totem Capital Corporation, a private capital firm focused on investing in Canadian small businesses, and is a Venture Partner with Relay Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm exclusively focused on mobile computing with offices in Toronto and Menlo Park.

Irfhan has been a strategic consultant, public company senior executive and investor for over 15 years. Irfhan has also been an Adjunct Professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia where he taught in the areas of finance, public policy, strategy and leadership.

Irfhan is presently Board Chair of two Totem Capital investee companies: Carrot Insights, the provider of Canada’s national wellness rewards app; and The Organic Box, Alberta’s largest organic food hub, offering home delivery as well as click-and-collect grocery services. Irfhan is also Board Chair of the Community Hypertension Prevention Initiative (CHPI), a partnership between the Federal government, private investors and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada aimed at reducing the incidence of stroke; the CHPI represents an innovation in social finance as Canada’s first social impact bond.

Irfhan is actively involved in civic affairs as a Board Member of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, Vice Chair and incoming Board Chair of Glenbow Museum, Treasurer of imagiNation150, member of the Harvard Business School Global Alumni Board, and member and Finance and Investment Sub-Committee Chair of the Calgary 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Bid Exploration Committee. Previously Irfhan has been on the boards of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada (Board Chair), the Harbourfront Centre (Director, Treasurer), and Business for the Arts (Director).

Irfhan holds an MBA with High Honors from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar and a BCom with High Honours from the University of British Columbia where he was a Wesbrook Scholar. He is a recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Award of Merit, the Sauder School of Business’ Teaching Excellence Award, and Business for the Arts’ Arnold Edinborough Award. Irfhan was recently recognized as member of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40.

Agenda at a glance

10:00 am Opening Remarks
10:15 am  Keynote Address #1 

10:45 am

Panel 1 – Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and data to design better policy and program solutions

11:45 am


12:45 pm

Keynote Address #2

1:15 pm

Galvanizing a national vision for public sector innovation

1:45 pm

Panel 2 – Mobilizing Canada’s research assets towards environmental sustainability

2:45 pm

Panel 3 – Driving economic growth through improving Canada’s innovation and commercialization ecosystem

3:45 pm

Closing Remarks

Activity description


10:00 to 10:15

Opening Remarks – Conference Co-hosts    
  • Mr. Michael Wernick, Government of Canada
  • Mr. Ray Gilmour, Government of Alberta
  • Ms. Laura Lee Langley, Government of Nova Scotia

10:15 to 10:45

Keynote Address #1:
  • Ms. Diane Francis, Editor-at-Large at The National Post, Adjunct Faculty at Singularity University, and Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University

10:45 to 11:45

Panel 1 – Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and data to design better policy and program solutions

New and disruptive technologies have the potential to fundamentally transform public policy development and delivery. From faster, more accurate analyses of information to the development of real world simulations to understand the implications of policy changes before they are implemented, technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are set to change the way the public sector does its work.  

Opening Presentation

  • Mr. Cameron Schuler, Executive Director, Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute

Moderated Panel

  • Mr. Cameron Schuler, Executive Director, Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute
  • Ms. Chantal Bernier, Counsel, Global Privacy and Cybersecurity Group, Dentons Canada;  former Interim Privacy Commissioner of Canada
  • Ms. Gayemarie Brown, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Wintam Place Consulting; former National Innovation Leader for Deloitte Canada

11:45 to 12:45


12:45 to 1:15

Keynote Address #2:
  • Mr. Mike Lazaridis, Founder and Managing Partner, Quantum Valley Investments

1:15 to 1:45

Galvanizing a national vision for public sector innovation:

Endorsement of the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Declaration on Public Sector Innovation
  • Mr. Michael Wernick, Government of Canada
  • Mr. Ray Gilmour, Government of Alberta
  • Ms. Laura Lee Langley, Government of Nova Scotia
  • Mr. Steve Orsini, Government of Ontario

1:45 to 2:45

Panel 2 – Mobilizing Canada’s research assets towards environmental sustainability:

The global market for clean technology has surpassed $1 trillion per year and will continue to grow over the next decade. As the world increasingly seeks out more sustainable and renewable sources of energy, and new technologies to improve the quality of air and water, Canada can lead the way through new funding approaches and partnership models.

 Opening Presentation:

  • Mr. Sean Drygas, Vice President of Finance and Corporate Development, Bullfrog Power

Moderated Panel:

  • Mr. Sean Drygas, Vice President of Finance and Corporate Development, Bullfrog Power
  • Mr. Darcy Wood, Executive Director, Aki Energy

2:45 to 3:45

Panel 3 – Driving economic growth through improving Canada’s innovation and commercialization ecosystem:

Governments continue to grapple with an unprecedented rate of change. To maintain global competitiveness, address key challenges and build a shared advantage, new partnership models are needed. Industry leaders, whether they are start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, or large corporations, need to look to multi-sectoral collaboration, open innovation, and partnerships with researchers, post-secondary institutions and other innovators to deliver solutions. Governments are playing an increasingly active role in convening and incenting these partnerships.

Opening Presentation:

  • Ms. Colleen Johnston, Special Advisor, TD Bank Group

Moderated Panel:

  • Ms. Colleen Johnston, Special Advisor, TD Bank Group
  • Dr. Linda Maxwell, Surgeon, Founding and Executive Director of The Biomedical Zone,  and Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University
  • Dr. Richard Florizone, President and Vice Chancellor of Dalhousie University

3:45 to 4:00

Closing Remarks:
  • Mr. Michael Wernick, Government of Canada
  • Mr. Ray Gilmour, Government of Alberta
  • Ms. Laura Lee Langley, Government of Nova Scotia


Keynote speakers

Ms. Diane Francis

Diane Francis is a well-known journalist, author of 10 books, and Editor-at Large at The National Post. She is Adjunct Faculty at Singularity University in Mountain View California, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, a Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University, and also on the boards of the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative, and the Canada-US Law Institute.

She writes for newspapers and magazines around the world and is a sought-after speaker at conferences and on broadcasts. Her popular Twitter feed on tech and corruption now has more than 680,000 followers around the world.

She is also a software developer, a director, investor, and advisor to start-up companies in Silicon Valley and Kyiv Ukraine, and is also working on a motion picture project in Hollywood.

She is a member of Abundance360, created by Silicon Valley influencer and space pioneer Peter Diamandis, who leads this exclusive group of 250 entrepreneurs.

Mr. Mike Lazaridis

Mike Lazaridis, O.C., O.Ont., FRS, FRSC, is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Quantum Valley Investments (QVI), which he and Doug Fregin established in Waterloo. In March 2013, they launched QVI with $100 million to provide financial and intellectual capital for the development and commercialization of quantum physics and quantum computing breakthroughs. QVI aims to help transform ideas and early-stage breakthroughs into commercially viable products, technologies, and services. It is Mr. Lazaridis’ latest venture in more than a decade’s work aimed at creating a “Quantum Valley” in Waterloo by bringing the world’s best minds in physics, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and materials science together to collaborate on cutting-edge quantum research.

In 1984, Mr. Lazaridis founded BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion) where he invented the BlackBerry device, created the smartphone industry, and built Canada’s largest global tech business. Mr. Lazaridis served in various positions including Co-Chairman and Co-CEO (1984-2012) and Board Vice Chair and Chair of the Innovation Committee (2012-13).

Mr. Lazaridis is the Founder and Board Chair of Perimeter Institute, where he helps generate important private and public sector funding for the Institute. He also founded the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Quantum-Nano Centre, both at the University of Waterloo. He has donated more than $170 million to Perimeter, and more than $100 million to IQC. In addition to this, his generous support for a new technology-focused management institute at Wilfred Laurier University resulted in the business school being renamed in his honour as the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics.

Among his many honours, Mr. Lazaridis is a Fellow of both the Royal Societies of London and Canada and has been named to both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada. He was listed on the Maclean’s Honour Roll as a distinguished Canadian in 2000, named as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, honoured as a Globe and Mail Nation Builder of the Year in 2010, selected as the 2013 Visionary of the Year by the Intelligent Community Forum, and awarded the Ernest C. Manning Principal Award, Canada’s most prestigious innovation prize.

Mr. Lazaridis holds an honorary doctoral degree in Engineering from the University of Waterloo (where he formerly served as Chancellor), as well as a Doctor of Laws from McMaster University, the University of Windsor, and Laval University. In addition to his many professional and personal accomplishments, Mr. Lazaridis won an Academy Award and an Emmy Award for technical achievements in the movie and TV industries for developing a high-speed barcode reader that greatly increased the speed of editing film.


Panel 1

Mr. Cameron Schuler

Cameron Schuler is the Executive Director of Amii (amii. ca Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute formerly the Alberta Innovates Centre for Machine Learning) as well as Co-Founder and CEO of VibeDx Diagnostic Corp. ( Cameron’s multifaceted career has covered finance, business & product development, consumer products, IT and general management from start-ups to mature companies. His industry experience includes Alternative Energy, Banking, Consumer Products, Information Technology (Consumer and Enterprise), Investment Sales and Trading, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Medical Devices, Oil & Gas, and Oil & Gas Services. Roles have included COO, CFO, President and CEO and he was COO & CFO of a food manufacturer whose products lead to sales of over 200 million units. He has founded numerous start-ups companies (including medical device as well as computer software & hardware). Cameron was the Managing Director & Co-Founder of Schuler Law Group, a boutique tax planning law firm and spent 8 years in investment sales & trading. In addition to being an A100 Member (, he attained an MBA from Queen’s University and is a Certified Investment Manager and Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute.

Ms. Chantal Bernier

Chantal Bernier joined the Privacy and Cybersecurity practice of Dentons Canada LLP on October 6, 2014. She comes to Dentons after nearly 6 years leading the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) as Interim Privacy Commissioner and as Assistant Commissioner. She oversaw the operations of the OPC, including national and international privacy investigations in the public and private sectors, privacy audits, privacy impact assessment reviews as well as technological analysis, privacy policy development and research.

Prior to leading the OPC, Chantal worked at senior levels of the Government of Canada, including as Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for Socio-Economic Development at Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada, as Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for Community Safety and Partnerships at Public Safety Canada, and as Director of Operations for the Machinery of Government Secretariat of the Privy Council Office. Chantal also negotiated international conventions for Canada as part of the International and Constitutional Law Section of the Department of Justice.

Chantal brings to Dentons the unique insight of a former privacy regulator, as well as the unique mix of knowledge of both the public safety context and privacy law. Her experience as a senior executive also uniquely positions her to understand corporate management challenges and find solutions to both serve corporate interests and comply with the law.

Ms. Gayemarie Brown

Gayemarie Brown is the CEO and Founder of Wintam Place Consulting and the former National Innovation Leader for Deloitte Canada. She has more than 25 years of digital transformation experience marrying emerging technologies with a business imperative to achieve strategic objectives. A Global Innovation Executive, she leverages exponential technologies and business models to deliver the transformation agenda for both large global corporations and start-ups in financial services, telecommunications, high-tech and retail sectors.

Using innovation principles such as disruption, design thinking, innovation tools, rapid ideation/lean start-up, ecosystems, crowdsourcing and open innovation, she is an advocate of applying entrepreneurship and start-up approaches to accelerate time to market.

A strategic visionary who can translate an organization’s ambitions into practical plans, Gayemarie is a sought-after speaker on the subject of, Innovation, Digital Transformation and Disruption having spoken at more than 50 events in recent years. She is also listed as one of the top female futurists in the world.

A self-described lover of humanoids and artificial intelligence she is a builder and leader for organizations looking to accelerate the future to avoid disruption.

Galvanizing a national vision for public sector innovation

Mr. Steve Orsini

In July of 2014, Steve Orsini was appointed Secretary of the Cabinet, Head of the Ontario Public Service and Clerk of the Executive Council.

Steve has more than 27 years of experience in the Ontario Public Service. From 2011 to 2014, he served as Deputy Minister of Finance and Secretary of the Treasury Board. His other executive leadership positions included Deputy Minister of Revenue as well as Associate Deputy Minister, Office of Taxation, Agencies and Pensions in the Ministry of Finance.

He also held a number of positions at the Ontario Hospital Association, including Vice-President of Policy and Public Affairs.

Steve has a Diploma in Public Administration, a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Urban and Regional Planning and a Masters in Environmental Studies (Economic Development). He has also completed the Canadian Securities Course and the Harvard University Health Care Leadership Program.

Panel 2

Mr. Sean Drygas

Sean is responsible for leading Bullfrog’s expansion into new areas of business, as well as its Finance and Administration teams. Since joining Bullfrog in 2014, he has led the development Bullfrog’s Green Fuel offering and its community solar efforts in the U.S. Sean came to Bullfrog after nearly 10 years of strategy and business development roles at Maple Leaf Foods and its Canada Bread subsidiary, including leading the development of its environmental sustainability strategy.

Sean earned an Honours Business Administration degree from the Ivey School of Business at Western University and was the gold medalist in the MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Mr. Darcy Wood

Darcy Wood is the Chief Executive Okima (CEO) of both Aki Energy and Aki Foods. Aki is a non-profit social enterprise that is governed by representatives from each First Nation where they work. Darcy is Oji-Cree and the former Chief of the Garden Hill First Nation. He has worked for twenty-five years for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and other political organizations serving First Nations in Manitoba.

Panel 3

Ms. Colleen Johnston

Colleen Johnston is currently Special Advisor, TD Bank Group as of November 1, 2017. Prior to this, she was Group Head Direct Channels, Technology, Marketing and Corporate & Public Affairs, TD Bank Group. Colleen also spent over ten years as Group Head Finance, Sourcing and Corporate Communications, and Chief Financial Officer, TD Bank Group.

Colleen began her career in 1982 with Price Waterhouse. She spent 15 years with Scotiabank in various senior positions, including CFO of Scotia Capital. She joined TD in March 2004 as Executive Vice President, Finance Operations, and was promoted to the senior executive team a year later in November 2005 as a Group Head and CFO.

Colleen graduated from York University in Toronto with a bachelor of business administration. She received her chartered accountant designation in 1984 and in 2006 was elected a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA), the highest designation conferred by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, recognizing her outstanding career achievements and dedication to community activities.

Colleen has received numerous top industry honours as a senior finance executive – she was recognized by Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women three years in a row and inducted into Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame in 2007. Colleen was named “Best Chief Financial Officer” in October 2009 by Canadian Business magazine, and in 2011, for the third year in a row, was named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by American Banker. In 2012, Colleen was recognized as Canada’s CFO of the Year, an award that is presented annually by Financial Executives International Canada, PwC and Robert Half International. In 2013, Colleen was awarded the Catalyst Canada Honours in the Business Leader Category.

Colleen is Vice Chair of the newly integrated health network that includes St. Michael's Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Centre and Providence Healthcare, a member of the Shaw Festival Board of Governors, the Advisory Board for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Schulich School of Business. She previously served as Chair of the Board for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Bridgepoint Health and the ShareLife Corporate Campaign. At TD, she is actively involved in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as a founding member of the Women in Leadership Committee.

Born in Vancouver, Colleen currently resides in Toronto with her husband. She enjoys travelling, reading and an active lifestyle.

Dr. Linda Maxwell

Over the past 15 years, as a healthcare executive, management professional, and noted innovator, Dr. Linda Maxwell has led successful institutional partnerships, public and private-sector business initiatives, and knowledge translation and commercialization activities within hospital and university settings.

Dr. Linda Maxwell is Founding and Executive Director of the Biomedical Zone, a healthcare technology and business development programme and infrastructure (business incubator) she founded. The Biomedical Zone is a first-in-class, hospital-embedded business incubator for emerging health technology companies. It is an innovative strategic partnership between St. Michael’s Hospital and Ryerson University. Under Dr. Maxwell’s stewardship, the Biomedical Zone has gone from concept to creation to going concern, supporting Toronto’s leading health technology businesses. Since its founding in 2015, the Biomedical Zone has supported over 160 innovators, facilitated fundraising for startup companies in excess of $15 million dollars in private investment, supported companies through two commercial exits, and engaged in twenty-five hospital innovation projects.

Dr. Maxwell’s breadth of experience and scope of expertise is founded on over a decade and a half as an accomplished head and neck/facial plastic surgeon and patient advocate. Her academic medical career is distinguished by university appointments as a clinical instructor, medical school faculty member, and published scientific author.

Dr. Maxwell has rich international professional experience in the different health business domains. She led the strategic partnering of the National Health Service and University of Oxford on innovation and research commercialization, managing a diverse portfolio of pre-market and market-ready life sciences technologies through all commercial stages including licensing, company creation, business building, and early stage capital raising. She has also been an international business strategy consultant for healthcare multi-nationals covering South America.

In addition to her professional endeavors, Dr. Maxwell is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors. She sits on several boards including the MedicAlert Foundation Canada, Toronto Global, CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals. She serves as a subject matter expert for Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Medical Association, Ontario Chief Innovation Strategist.

In 2016, Dr. Maxwell was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN), an award recognizing talented leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Dr. Maxwell earned a Bachelor’s degree with honors from Harvard University (Biology, cum laude), an M.D. from Yale University, and an M.B.A. from University of Oxford. She completed six-year residency and fellowship training in surgery at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Richard Florizone

Dr. Richard Florizone began his term as Dalhousie’s 11th president in July of 2013, bringing a unique mix of academic and professional skills developed through extensive experience with universities, companies and government in Canada and abroad. Previously, Dr. Florizone was vice-president, finance and resources at the University of Saskatchewan, where he was also a Policy Fellow in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. He earned his PhD in physics from MIT and has been a senior adviser to the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C., as well as serving in roles with Bombardier Aerospace, Cambridge University and the Boston Consulting Group.

In addition to being the chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university, Dr. Florizone currently serves on the boards of the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and Innovacorp, a crown corporation that invests in early stage Nova Scotia start-up companies. He also serves as a director on the board of Universities Canada and was inducted as fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in June 2015.

You can find Dr. Florizone on Twitter @dalpres.


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