Clerk and Deputy Clerk 

Role of the Clerk

Role of the Clerk

The Clerk of the Privy Council has three main roles:

  • Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister
  • Secretary to the Cabinet
  • Head of the federal public service

The Clerk’s job is to advise the Prime Minister and elected Government officials in managing the country. The Clerk does so from an objective, non-partisan, public policy perspective. He also ensures Canada's federal public service is managed effectively and follows a code of value and ethics in its work to design and deliver high quality services and programs for Canadians and their families.

To do this, the Clerk and the team at the Privy Council Office:

  • Work with departments and agencies to develop policy options and choices for the Government.
  • Advise and support ministers in making policy decisions.
  • Record Cabinet decisions, inform departments and agencies about them, and work with the public service to carry them out in a timely and effective way.

Meet the Clerk

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Clerk Michael Wernick

Ian Shugart became Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on April 19, 2019.

Prior to joining the Privy Council Office, he was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from May 2016 to April 2019.

From July 2010 to May 2016, Mr. Shugart was Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada and chairperson of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. Before that, he served as Deputy Minister of the Environment and Associate Deputy Minister of the Environment.

Prior to joining Environment Canada, Mr. Shugart held several senior positions in the Health Portfolio, including:

  • Assistant Deputy Minister, Health Policy Branch, Health Canada (1999-2006)
  • Visiting Assistant Deputy Minister, Health Protection Branch, Health Canada (1997-1999)
  • Executive Director, Medical Research Council (1993-1997)

While working at Health Canada, Mr. Shugart also served as chair of the Global Health Security Action Group and the Health Task Force of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and as a director on the World Health Organization’s executive board.

Prior to this, Mr. Shugart served as Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Social Policy and Programs in the Federal-Provincial Relations Office of the Privy Council Office. He spent several years on Parliament Hill in senior advisory roles to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, the Minister of National Health and Welfare and the Leader of the Opposition.

He is a graduate in political economy from Trinity College at the University of Toronto.

Meet the Deputy Clerk

Meet the Deputy Clerk

Catherine Blewett became the Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council on January 7, 2019.

Ms. Blewett has held several senior leadership positions in both the provincial and federal public services, including:

  • Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Oceans (2016-2018)
  • Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet, Government of Nova Scotia (2015-2016)
  • Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and CEO of the Office of Immigration, Government of Nova Scotia (2014-2016)
  • Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and CEO of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, Government of Nova Scotia (2011–2014)
  • Director of Operations for Nova Scotia, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2009 - 2011)

Ms. Blewett holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration from Dalhousie University.

Photo: Catherine Blewett

Former Clerks

Former Clerks

The Privy Council Office was established in 1867 when the Governor General appointed the very first Clerk, William Henry Lee. Under the Constitution Act of 1867, however, the PCO was only responsible for preparing and registering orders in council. It was only in 1940 that the secretariat was formed when Arnold Heeney was appointed Secretary to the Cabinet. In 1992, the Clerk of the Privy Council was further recognized as the Head of the Public Service under the Public Service Employment Act.

Please note that former clerks’ biographical information is not kept current.

Michael Wernick

Michael Wernick

Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet
January 22, 2016 to April 18, 2019

Biographical notes

Michael Wernick served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from January 22, 2016, to April 18, 2019.

Mr. Wernick received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Toronto.

He joined the Public Service of Canada in 1981, working in various departments and agencies, including the Department of Finance Canada, Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada and the Privy Council Office.

Mr. Wernick assumed several senior leadership roles, including Assistant Deputy Minister and Associate Deputy Minister at Canadian Heritage in 1996, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultations, at the Privy Council Office in 2003, Deputy Minister at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in 2006 and Senior Advisor at the Privy Council Office in 2014. He was appointed Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet later that same year.

Mr. Wernick also served on the Board of Governors of Carleton University from 2010 to 2017. In 2012, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.


Janice Charette

Janice Charette

Janice Charette
Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service of Canada
October 6, 2014 to January 21, 2016

Biographical notes

Janice Charette was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on October 6, 2014, and served until January 21, 2016.

Ms. Charette graduated from Carleton University, where she received a bachelor of commerce degree. She began the early part of her career working for the Department of Finance, the Office of Privatization and Regulatory Affairs, the Federal-Provincial Relations Office and the Prime Minister’s Office.

She assumed senior positions in the Public Service, including Deputy Minister at Health Canada in 2003; Deputy Minister at Citizenship and Immigration Canada in 2004; Deputy Minister at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Chairperson of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission in 2006; Associate Secretary to the Cabinet and Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in 2010; and Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet in 2013.

In the private sector, Ms. Charette was a director of the transition team for the newly formed Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 1998 and principal at Ernst & Young LLP from 1996 to 1997.

In 2008, Ms. Charette was national chair for the United Way’s Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign, which raised over $36 million for communities and national health charities across Canada.

Ms. Charette is a member of the Board of Directors of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.


Wayne G. Wouters

Wayne G. Wouters

The Honourable Wayne G. Wouters, P.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service of Canada
July 1st, 2009 to October 3, 2014

Biographical notes

Wayne Wouters served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from July 1, 2009, to October 3 2014.

Mr. Wouters has a bachelor of commerce degree (economics) from the University of Saskatchewan and a master’s degree in economics from Queen’s University.

He began his public service career in 1977, working for the Government of Saskatchewan. In 1982, he moved to Ottawa and began his federal public service career. He served at the senior level in several roles, including Deputy Minister at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 1997, and Deputy Minister at Human Resources Development Canada, Chairperson of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission and Deputy Minister of Labour in 2002, followed by Deputy Minister at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Secretary of the Treasury Board.

In 2010, Mr. Wouters received an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Saskatchewan. In 2016, the University of Manitoba granted him an honorary doctorate of law.

An avid volunteer, Mr. Wouters received the André Mailhot Award for lifetime achievement, United Way Canada’s highest distinction, in 2013. In 2017, Mr. Wouters became a member of the Privy Council and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017.


Kevin G. Lynch

Kevin G. Lynch

The Honourable Kevin G. Lynch, P.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service of Canada
March 6, 2006 to June 30, 2009

Biographical notes

Kevin Lynch served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from March 6, 2006, to June 30, 2009.

Mr. Lynch holds an honours bachelor’s degree in economics from Mount Allison University, a master’s degree in economics from the University of Manchester and a Ph.D. in economics from McMaster University.

He assumed senior level positions in the federal government that included Deputy Minister of Industry in 1995 and Deputy Minister of Finance in 2000. Mr. Lynch was also Executive Director (Canadian, Irish and Caribbean constituency) at the International Monetary Fund from 2004 to 2006 before becoming Clerk of the Privy Council.

Mr. Lynch holds several honorary doctorates of law, including from the University of Alberta (2009), the University of Saskatchewan (2009) and Queen’s University (2008), to name a few.

Prior to his retirement, Mr. Lynch was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council in recognition of his exceptional service.


Alex Himelfarb

Alex Himelfarb

Alex Himelfarb
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
May 13, 2002 to March 5, 2006

Biographical notes

Alex Himelfarb served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from May 13, 2002, to March 5, 2006.

Mr. Himelfarb graduated from the University of Toronto where he obtained a Ph.D. in Sociology. Before joining the Public Service, he was a professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick from 1972 to 1981. During this period, he undertook an Executive Interchange with the Department of Justice as Head of the Unified Family Court Project from 1979 to 1981. Mr. Himelfarb joined the Public Service in 1981 with the Department of the Solicitor General. He held a number of positions of increasing responsibility, including Director General, Planning and Management Branch with the Department of the Solicitor General; Executive Director of the National Parole Board; Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Social Policy Development with the Privy Council Office; and Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board. While serving at Treasury Board, he also headed the federal Task Force on the Social Union. In June 1999, Mr. Himelfarb became Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, a position he held until his appointment as Clerk of the Privy Council in 2002. He was appointed Canadian Ambassador to Italy in June 2006.


Mel Cappe

Mel Cappe

Mel Cappe
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
January 18, 1999 to May 12, 2002

Biographical notes

Mel Cappe served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from January 18, 1999, to May 12, 2002.

Mr. Cappe earned a master's degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario and did doctoral work at the University of Toronto. He joined the Public Service of Canada in 1975 and held economic and policy positions in the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Department of Finance before joining Consumer and Corporate Affairs as Deputy Director of Investigation and Research in 1982. He served as assistant deputy minister of several directorates in that department before returning to the Treasury Board Secretariat in January 1990 as Senior Assistant Secretary and was appointed Deputy Secretary, Program Branch, in April 1990. Mr. Cappe was appointed Deputy Minister of Environment Canada in May 1994. He became Deputy Minister, Human Resources Development Canada and concurrently Chairperson, Canada Employment Insurance Commission and Deputy Minister of Labour in July 1996. From 2002 to 2006, Mr. Cappe served as the Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. In June 2006, he became President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy.


Jocelyne Bourgon

Jocelyne Bourgon

The Honourable Jocelyne Bourgon, P.C., O.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
March 28, 1994 to January 17, 1999

Biographical notes

Jocelyne Bourgon served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from March 28, 1994, to January 17, 1999. She became the 17th Clerk and the first woman to hold this position.

Ms. Bourgon studied science and management at the University of Ottawa and the University of Montreal. In 1974, she joined the Public Service of Canada, where she organized several First Ministers' conferences on the Canadian economy and played a key role in the organization of the First Ministers' meetings leading to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. After being appointed to the rank of deputy minister in 1989, Ms. Bourgon was the official in charge of constitutional negotiations, which led to the Charlottetown Accord in 1992. She served as President of the Canadian International Development Agency and Deputy Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. From 1999 to 2003 Ms. Bourgon served as President of the Canadian Centre for Management Development where her actions led to the creation of the Canada School of Public Service. In recognition of her work, she was named President Emeritus. In 2003, Ms. Bourgon was appointed Canada's Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


Glen Scott Shortliffe

Glen Scott Shortliffe

Glen Scott Shortliffe
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
July 1st, 1992 to March 27, 1994

Biographical notes

Glen Shortliffe was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on July 1, 1992, a position he held until March 27, 1994.

Mr. Shortliffe graduated from the University of Alberta and the University of Oregon. During his 32 years in government, Mr. Shortliffe had many years of experience with the Department of External Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency, including an appointment as Ambassador to Indonesia from 1977 to 1979. From 1982 to 1992 he held positions as Associate Secretary to the Cabinet, Deputy Minister of Transport, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations) and Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council. In 1994, Mr. Shortliffe co-founded the Sussex Circle, a company that provides strategic advice to private and public sector organizations. In 1999, Mr. Shortliffe was appointed Special Advisor on Restructuring to the Government of Ontario and in this role he prepared the report on local government reform that led to the creation of an amalgamated City of Ottawa.


Paul M. Tellier

Paul M. Tellier

The Honourable Paul M. Tellier, P.C., C.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
August 12, 1985 to June 30, 1992

Biographical notes

Paul Tellier served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from August 12, 1985, to June 30, 1992.

Mr. Tellier graduated from the universities of Ottawa and Oxford. In 1963, he was admitted to the Quebec Bar and in 1993 he was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada. He held several senior government positions, including Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in 1979 and Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources in 1982. Between 1992 and 2002 he was President and Chief Executive Officer and a director of the Canadian National Railway Company. In the private sector, Mr. Tellier served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Bombardier Inc. from 2003 to 2004. He has been a director of Alcan Aluminum Ltd., BCE Inc./Bell Canada, and McCain Foods Ltd., as well as Co-Chairman of the Canada-Japan Business Council and Chairman of the Conference Board of Canada. In 2006, Mr. Tellier was appointed Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.


Gordon Francis Joseph Osbaldeston

Gordon Francis Joseph Osbaldeston

The Honourable Gordon Francis Joseph Osbaldeston, P.C., C.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
December 10, 1982 to August 11, 1985

Biographical notes

On December 10, 1982, Gordon Osbaldeston was named Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, a position he held until August 11, 1985.

Mr. Osbaldeston received a bachelor's degree in commerce from the University of Toronto and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Western Ontario. He joined the Public Service of Canada in 1953 as a foreign service officer in the Department of Trade and Commerce. In 1968, he was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and in 1970 he was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Board. From 1972 to 1982 he served in a number of senior positions, including Deputy Minister of the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Secretary of the Treasury Board, Deputy Minister of the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce, and Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs. In 1981, Mr. Osbaldeston was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada and in 1997 he was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada. He has written Keeping Deputy Ministers Accountable (1988) and Organizing to Govern (1992). In 2003, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Canada Life Assurance Company and the Canada Life Financial Corporation.


Peter Michael Pitfield

Peter Michael Pitfield

The Honourable Peter Michael Pitfield, P.C., O.C., C.V.O, Q.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
March 11, 1980 to December 9, 1982

Biographical notes

Michael Pitfield served twice as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet; the first time from January 16, 1975, to June 4, 1979, and again from March 11, 1980, to December 9, 1982.

Mr. Pitfield graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and the University of Ottawa. He obtained his law degree from McGill University and in 1962 he was admitted to the Quebec Bar. Mr. Pitfield joined the Public Service of Canada in 1959, serving as an administrative assistant to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Over the years he held various positions, including Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans), Deputy Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Deputy Registrar General of Canada. On December 22, 1982, Mr. Pitfield was appointed to the Senate. He served as Chairman of the Special Committee of the Senate on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and as a member of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. From 1984 to 2003, Mr. Pitfield served as Vice-Chairman and a director of Power Corporation of Canada and in 2003 was named Director Emeritus of the company. In 2003, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute created the Michael Pitfield Chair in Cardiac Surgery.


Marcel Massé

Marcel Massé

The Honourable Marcel Massé, P.C., O.C., Q.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
June 5, 1979 to March 10, 1980

Biographical notes

Marcel Massé served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from June 5, 1979, to March 10, 1980.

Mr. Massé studied at the University of Montreal, McGill University, the University of Warsaw and Oxford University. He was called to the Quebec Bar in 1963 and in 1985 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. After four years with the World Bank, Mr. Massé held a number of positions with the provincial and federal governments between 1971 and 1979, including Deputy Minister of Finance for the Government of New Brunswick, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet for Federal-Provincial Relations and Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations). Following his term as Clerk of the Privy Council, Mr. Massé served as President of the Canadian International Development Agency, Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, Canadian Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund and Secretary to the Cabinet for Federal-Provincial Relations. After his election to the House of Commons in 1993, he served as President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Treasury Board, Minister responsible for Infrastructure and Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal. Mr. Massé retired from Cabinet in 1999 and resigned his seat in the House of Commons. In 2002, he was appointed Canadian Executive Director at the World Bank.


Peter Michael Pitfield

Peter Michael Pitfield

The Honourable Peter Michael Pitfield, P.C., O.C., C.V.O, Q.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
January 16, 1975 to June 4, 1979

Biographical notes

Michael Pitfield served twice as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet; the first time from January 16, 1975, to June 4, 1979, and again from March 11, 1980, to December 9, 1982.

Mr. Pitfield graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and the University of Ottawa. He obtained his law degree from McGill University and in 1962 he was admitted to the Quebec Bar. Mr. Pitfield joined the Public Service of Canada in 1959, serving as an administrative assistant to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Over the years he held various positions, including Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans), Deputy Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Deputy Registrar General of Canada. On December 22, 1982, Mr. Pitfield was appointed to the Senate. He served as Chairman of the Special Committee of the Senate on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and as a member of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. From 1984 to 2003 Mr. Pitfield served as Vice-Chairman and a director of Power Corporation of Canada and in 2003 was named Director Emeritus of the company. In 2003, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute created the Michael Pitfield Chair in Cardiac Surgery.


Robert Gordon Robertson

Robert Gordon Robertson

Robert Gordon Robertson, P.C., C.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
August 12, 1985 to June 30, 1992

Biographical notes

On July 1, 1963, Robert Gordon Robertson was named Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, a position he held until January 15, 1975.

Mr. Robertson graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, Oxford University and the University of Toronto. He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1941, remaining there until 1945 when he became Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister. He served as a member of the Cabinet Secretariat from 1949 to 1951 and Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet from 1951 to 1953, at which time he became Deputy Minister of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources. In 1953, he was sworn in as the youngest serving Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. From 1975 to 1979 Mr. Robertson was Secretary to the Cabinet for Federal-Provincial Relations. Following his retirement from the Public Service of Canada in 1979, he became President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, where he was fellow-in-residence from 1984 to 1990. For his outstanding service to Canada in many areas of the Public Service he was named Companion of the Order of Canada in 1976. In 2000, Memoirs of a Very Civil Servant, his book recounting his career as a senior civil servant serving under the administrations of five prime ministers, was published.


Robert Broughton Bryce

Robert Broughton Bryce

The Honourable Robert Broughton Bryce, P.C., C.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
January 1st, 1954 to June 30, 1963

Biographical notes

Robert Broughton Bryce served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from January 1, 1954, to June 30, 1963.

An engineering graduate from the University of Toronto in 1932, Mr. Bryce later studied economics at the universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He joined the Department of Finance in 1938 and in 1947 was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance and Secretary of the Treasury Board. After serving as Clerk of the Privy Council, Mr. Bryce returned to the Department of Finance as Deputy Minister. In 1970, he joined the Prime Minister's staff as Economic Advisor on the Constitution. He was appointed Canadian Executive Director to the International Monetary Fund in 1971 and served as Chairman of the Royal Commission on Corporate Concentration from 1975 to 1977. In 1968, he was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada for his services to Canada in various important posts of public administration. In his later years he researched and wrote on the history of the Department of Finance. He passed away on July 30, 1997.


John Witney Pickersgill

John Witney Pickersgill,

The Right Honourable John Witney Pickersgill, P.C., C.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
June 1st, 1952 to June 1st, 1953

Biographical notes

John Whitney Pickersgill served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from June 1, 1952, to June 1, 1953.

Mr. Pickersgill was a graduate of the University of Manitoba and Oxford University. In 1937, he joined the Department of External Affairs as Third Secretary but was almost immediately assigned to the Prime Minister's Office. He served in various capacities, including Assistant Private Secretary and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, until his appointment as Clerk of the Privy Council in 1952. In 1953, he became a member of Parliament, entering Cabinet as Secretary of State for Canada, and in 1954 was named Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. He held other senior positions, including Government House Leader and Minister of Transport. After resigning his seat in the House of Commons in 1967, he was appointed President of the Canadian Transport Commission. In 1970, he was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada for his services to Canada as a public servant and former Cabinet minister. In recognition of his service, Mr. Pickersgill was bestowed the title "Right Honourable," usually reserved for prime ministers, governors general and chief justices. He passed away on November 14, 1997.


Norman Alexander Robertson

Norman Alexander Robertson

Norman Alexander Robertson
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
March 15, 1949 to May 31, 1952

Biographical notes

On March 15, 1949, Norman Alexander Robertson was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, a position he held until May 31, 1952.

Mr. Robertson studied at the University of British Columbia as well as at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and at the Brookings Graduate School in Washington, D.C. He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1929, remaining there until the late 1930s when he was seconded to Prime Minister King's staff. In 1941, Mr. Robertson was appointed Under Secretary of State for External Affairs. He played an important role in the wartime administration and accompanied the Prime Minister to the major international conferences during and after the Second World War, including the United Nations Conference in San Francisco in 1945 and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in London in 1946. He served two terms as Canadian High Commissioner in London (1946-49 and 1952-57) and one year as Canadian Ambassador in Washington (1957-58). He served again as Under Secretary of State for External Affairs from 1958 to 1964. In 1966, Mr. Robertson became the first Director of the School of International Affairs at Carleton University. In 1967, he was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada for his nearly 40 years of service to Canada as a public servant and career diplomat. He passed away on July 16, 1968.


Arnold Danford Patrick Heeney

Arnold Danford Patrick Heeney

Arnold Danford Patrick Heeney, C.C.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
March 25, 1940 to March 14, 1949

Biographical notes

On March 25, 1940, Arnold Danford Patrick Heeney became the seventh Clerk of the Privy Council and the first Secretary to the Cabinet, a position he held until March 14, 1949.

Mr. Heeney was a graduate of the University of Manitoba, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and earned a Bachelor of Civil Law from McGill University. He became Principal Secretary to Prime Minister King in 1938 and two years later was named Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet. He was one of Canada's most important public servants during the Second World War, organizing the work of the Cabinet War Committee. In 1949, Mr. Heeney became Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, then Ambassador to NATO from 1952 to 1953. He served twice as Canadian Ambassador to the United States (1953-57 and 1959-62). For his services in the field of diplomacy and as a public servant he was named Companion of the Order of Canada in 1968. He was Canadian Chairman of the International Joint Commission from 1962 to 1970, a position he held until shortly before his death on December 20, 1970. His autobiography, entitled The Things That are Caesar's: Memoirs of a Canadian Public Servant, was published posthumously in 1972.


Ernest Joseph Lemaire

Ernest Joseph Lemaire

Ernest Joseph Lemaire, CMG
Clerk of the Privy Council
August 14, 1923 to January 1st, 1940

Biographical notes

Ernest Joseph Lemaire served as Clerk of the Privy Council from August 14, 1923, to January 1, 1940.

Mr. Lemaire was educated at St. Charles College, Sherbrooke. He began his career in the civil service at the Privy Council Office in January 1894. From 1904 to 1912 he was Private Secretary to Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, and accompanied him to the Colonial Conference in 1907 and the Imperial Conference in 1911. He transferred to the Post Office Department in 1912 and was appointed Superintendent of the Postage Stamp Branch and in 1921 became the Superintendent of the Equipment and Supply Branch. In 1934, he was named Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, a British honour conferred upon those who had performed distinguished service in Commonwealth countries.


Rodolphe Boudreau

Rodolphe Boudreau

Rodolphe Boudreau, CMG
Clerk of the Privy Council
May 6, 1907 to August 4, 1923

Biographical notes

Rodolphe Boudreau served as Clerk of the Privy Council from May 6, 1908, to August 4, 1923.

Mr. Boudreau was educated at Nicolet College, Laval University. He was first appointed to the civil service on July 11, 1897, and during his career held the position of Private Secretary to Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. He was named Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1918, a British honour conferred upon those who had performed distinguished service in Commonwealth countries. He served as Clerk until his death in 1923.


John Joseph McGee

John Joseph McGee

John Joseph McGee
Clerk of the Privy Council
May 20, 1882 to May 5, 1907

Biographical notes

John Joseph McGee was the longest-serving Clerk of the Privy Council, filling the position for almost 25 years, from May 20, 1882, to May 5, 1907.

Mr. McGee was born in Ireland and came to Canada in 1863 at the request of his half-brother, Thomas D'Arcy McGee. He was educated at St. Peter's College, Wexford, and McGill University, where he took a course of scientific studies. He was engaged by the government during the construction of the Intercolonial Railroad and entered the civil service in 1879 as a first class clerk in the Dominion Lands Branch of the Department of the Interior. Mr. McGee was appointed Assistant Clerk of the Queen's Privy Council on January 19, 1880, and was promoted to the Clerkship on May 20, 1882. He held a commission under the Great Seal of the Dominion, which empowered him to administer oaths of allegiance and of office to all persons appointed to any office under the Great or Privy Seals and was a commissioner under the Oaths Act for all the provinces. He passed away on April 10, 1927.


Joseph Olivier Côté

Joseph Olivier Côté

Joseph Olivier Côté
Clerk of the Privy Council
January 13, 1880 to April 24, 1882

Biographical notes

Joseph Olivier Côté served as Clerk of the Queen's Privy Council from January 13, 1880, to April 24, 1882.

Mr. Côté studied at the Séminaire de Québec from 1831 to 1835. Leaving to study law, he was admitted as a notary in 1841. From 1842 to 1843 he was the deputy registrar of Berthier County and in June 1845 he entered the civil service as a clerk in the Executive Council of the Province of Canada. He compiled two editions (1860 and 1866) of a useful handbook entitled Political Appointments and Elections in the Province of Canada. At Confederation, the Executive Council became the Privy Council Office and in 1872 Mr. Côté was named Deputy Clerk. In late 1879, he was appointed deputy governor general to sign letters patent for dominion and other lands. In January 1880, Sir John A. Macdonald appointed Mr. Côté Clerk of the Privy Council and at the end of 1880 he was appointed a commissioner per dedimus potestatem to administer the oaths of office for the government. In spite of increasing ill health he was able to carry on until his death on April 24, 1882.


William Alfred Himsworth

William Alfred Himsworth

William Alfred Himsworth
Clerk of the Privy Council
July 1st, 1872 to January 7, 1880

Biographical notes

William Alfred Himsworth served as Clerk of the Queen's Privy Council from July 1, 1872, to January 7, 1880.

Mr. Himsworth was educated in Montreal and was called to the bar of Lower Canada in 1841. He practised law briefly at Aylmer (Gatineau County) until he entered government service as a sessional clerk in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1842 to 1843. He became a clerk in the Executive Council Office in 1843 and rose to become Assistant Clerk of the Executive Council in 1851. He served as Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council from July 2, 1867, until he was appointed Clerk in 1872. Mr. Himsworth also held a number of additional minor appointments, including deputy for signing money warrants and, in 1875, Justice of the Peace for Carleton County. He died in Ottawa in 1880.


William Henry Lee

William Henry Lee

William Henry Lee
Clerk of the Privy Council
July 1st, 1867 to June 30, 1872

Biographical notes

William Henry Lee was the first Clerk of the Queen's Privy Council, serving from July 1, 1867, to June 30, 1872.

Mr. Lee was educated in Montreal. In 1821, he entered government service as an extra clerk in the offices of the Executive Council of Upper Canada, moving up to junior clerk in 1828 and senior clerk in 1831. He became Acting Clerk of the Executive Council in 1839 and held the same position in the Province of Canada in 1841. From 1839 to 1853 he was Clerk to the Heir and Devisee Commission, established to clarify the land titles of the heirs or devisees of those who had been assigned Crown lands before 1795. Mr. Lee was appointed Clerk of the Executive Council in 1853, a position he held until his appointment as Clerk of the Privy Council. He also held a number of minor positions, including deputy governor for signing money warrants in 1866 and commissioner to administer the Oath of Allegiance under the Civil Service Act in 1868. He died in Ottawa on September 11, 1878.

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