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William Francis "Bill" Morneau PC MP (born October 7, 1962) is a Canadian politician and businessman who was elected in the 2015 Canadian federal election as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre.


Bill Morneau

Bill Morneau 2015.jpg
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byJoe Oliver
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Toronto Centre
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded byChrystia Freeland
Personal details
Born
William Francis Morneau

(1962-10-07) October 7, 1962 (age 57)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Nancy McCain
RelationsEleanore A. Cronk (aunt)
ResidenceToronto, Ontario
Alma materUniversity of Western Ontario
INSEAD
London School of Economics

Morneau was executive chair of Canada's largest human resources firm, Morneau Shepell, and the former chair of the C. D. Howe Institute. He has also served as the chair of the board at St. Michael's Hospital, and Covenant House. Morneau holds a BA from the University of Western Ontario, an MBA from INSEAD, and an MSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics (LSE). Since November 4, 2015, he has been Canada's Minister of Finance.[1] On April 26th, 2019, Morneau also took on the responsibilities of Canada's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Internal Trade.[2]

Early and personal life

 
Morneau as a child with his family in Thunder Beach Ontario

Morneau's parents are William Francis "Frank" Morneau, Sr. who came from Walkerville, Windsor, Ontario, and Helen (Lynch) Morneau, who came from Adjala Township, Alliston, Ontario. Their families had deep roots in both areas. Morneau was born in Toronto at St. Joseph's Health Centre and attended Senator O'Connor College School.[3] From 1981 to 1986, Morneau attended The University of Western Ontario and completed an Honours BA. As an undergraduate, he spent one year at the University of Grenoble in France. He then earned an MBA from INSEAD. Morneau eventually went on to earn an M.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Morneau lives in Toronto with his wife Nancy McCain, a member of the New Brunswick family which owns McCain Foods, and has four children - Henry, Clare, Edward and Grace.[4] Grace is originally from Northern Uganda, and the couple sponsored her to join their family in 2010.[5]

Business career

Bill Morneau had demonstrated an interest in business and entrepreneurship from a young age. At 17, Morneau and a friend started a business servicing swimming pools for homeowners, mostly in the Toronto neighbourhood of Don Mills. Morneau ran the business for four years, helping him pay a good part of his university tuition.[6]

Bill Morneau's father, Frank Morneau, founded the actuarial and benefit consulting firm W.F. Morneau & Associates in 1966. By 1985, the firm had grown to annual revenue of $5 million.[7] Bill Morneau joined the company in 1987. Morneau held positions of increasing seniority at the company including appointments as president in 1992, president and chief executive officer in 1998, and chair and chief executive officer in 2008.[8]

In the years when Morneau ran the firm, the company absorbed competitors across Canada as it grew to become the nation’s biggest player in the sector. In 1992, the firm bought the Canadian actuarial consulting businesses of Coopers & Lybrand, followed by the 1997 acquisition of Sobeco, a large Quebec-based pension and benefit businesses, from Ernst & Young. In 1998, Morneau also acquired the Canadian pension consulting practice of Deloitte & Touche. In 2008, Morneau’s firm also bought Shepell FGI — a group that helped companies provide mental health and emotional counselling to employees — and changed its name to Morneau Shepell. [9]

As executive chair of Morneau Shepell, Morneau led the firm through a period of growth from a few hundred people in 1992 to almost 4000 employees in 2015 - becoming the largest Canadian human resources services organization, with offices across North America. Under his leadership the firm went through several significant changes, including going public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2005.[10]

Morneau Shepell provides over 20,000 organizations representing millions of Canadians with pension, employee benefit, and employee assistance programs.[11]

Morneau is the co-author of The Real Retirement, an analysis of the context and the factors involved in helping Canadians plan for a successful retirement originally published in 2012 with Frederick Vettese.[12]

Public life

Morneau served as the chair of the board at St. Michael's Hospital from 2009 to 2013, and as a board member from 2003 to 2013. He has also served on the board of St. Michael's Hospital Foundation (2013–2015).

Morneau also served as the chair of Covenant House (1997–2000), and chair of the C.D. Howe Institute (2010–2014). He has served as a board member for the Loran Scholars Foundation (2008-2015), the Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation (2004–2011), the Canadian Opera Company (2001–2010), Greenwood College (2012–2015), the Toronto Zoo Foundation (2000–2004), and several others.[13][14]

In 2010, Morneau began leading an initiative with the UNHCR to open a secondary school for refugee girls in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. Opened in 2014, today the school is home to 352 girls, representing 15 per cent of the total secondary school female enrolment in the Kakuma Camp. The day-to-day operation of the school rests with the Windle Trust and its team of 18 teachers, including eight women, and a staff of 20.[15]

Morneau was appointed as pension investment advisor to the Ontario Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan in 2012, providing counsel aimed at facilitating the pooling of public-sector pension fund assets.[16] His report led to the eventual establishment of Investment Management Corporation of Ontario, which now pools funds and offers public-sector pension plans lower costs with economies of scale.[17] In 2014, he was appointed by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to an expert panel to advise on how to support the 3.5 million workers in Ontario who would not receive a comparable workplace pension after their retirement. This led to the creation of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, which was later withdrawn when Morneau became Canada’s Finance Minister and the Canada Pension Plan was expanded under his leadership.[18][19][20][21]

MP and Minister of Finance

Running for office

Morneau has stated his motivation to run for public office stemmed from seeing important changes going on in the lives of Canadians through his exposure running the largest HR firm in Canada, Morneau Shepell.[22]

On the pensions side of his businesses, he saw changes in employee plans, with the burden for saving shifting from corporations to individuals, leaving employees much more vulnerable in retirement. Employee benefit plans were also getting costlier — making hospitalizations, prescription meds, and dental and eye care harder to afford. In the employee assistance part of his business, he saw a rising anxiety among Canadians, and a matched increase in mental health challenges. Through these experiences, Morneau said he began thinking seriously about helping people on a broader scale and that led him to eventually run for the Liberal Party nomination in the downtown riding of Toronto Centre. [23]

On October 19, 2015, Morneau was elected as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre with 57.9% of the vote. He was then named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Minister of Finance for Canada on November 4, 2015, becoming the first rookie Member of Parliament to hold the position.[24]

Responsibilities

 
Bill Morneau at the 2018 G7 Finance Minister's Meeting in Whistler, BC

As Finance Minister, Morneau is responsible for directing more than $300 billion in revenues via the federal budget each year. Administering tariffs and financial regulations are also part of his portfolio. Additional responsibilities include overseeing the Bank of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, among others.

As Finance Minister, Morneau represents Canada at international gatherings, including the G7 and G20 Summits, in addition to serving as Governor of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. [25]

Gender equality

Morneau was the first Finance Minister to become an International Gender Champion. As Finance Minister Morneau also tabled Canada’s first gender-based budget and introduced a banknote featuring civil-rights activist Viola Desmond, making it Canada’s first circulation banknote to feature a Canadian woman, and the first to feature a Black woman. [26][27]

Policies

Since his appointment as Finance Minister, Morneau has played a key role in implementing a number of signature Liberal government initiatives, including new benefits for parents, low-income workers and seniors - as well as expanding the Canada Pension Plan.[28] Morneau also moved forward with the Liberal's commitment to lower income taxes on the middle class by raising taxes on the wealthiest Canadians.[29]

Morneau reached an agreement in 2016 with provincial and territorial Finance Ministers to expand the Canada Pension Plan. The expanded CPP was designed to address the shortfall in middle-income retirement planning that is opening up as a result of disappearing corporate pensions.[30]

In 2017, Morneau also led negotiations on new health care funding agreements with the provinces and territories. In August 2017, all provinces and territories agreed to a Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities, which outlines common priorities for action in home and community care, and in mental health and addiction services.[31]

Canadian economy

During his time as Finance Minister, the Canadian economy has also seen a period of high growth and historically low unemployment and fewer Canadians living in poverty. Statistics Canada reported that fewer Canadians are living under the official poverty line than at any time in the last decade, including 278,000 fewer children, due to “a buoyant economy and the Liberals signature child benefit.[32][33]

Commitment to balance the budget

Morneau has received criticism for abandoning the Liberal's platform commitment to run annual deficits of less than $10 billion during the first couple years of their mandate, and return to balance by 2019-20. A few months after taking office, he abandoned those vows, citing a weaker-than-expected economy.[34]He then committed to continuing to reduce the government net debt-to-GDP ratio, arguing it’s a better measure of government fiscal health, and has kept that commitment each year since.[35]

Small business tax changes

The Liberal government changes to small business taxation, proposed in 2017, have been one of the most controversial issues in Morneau's career as Finance Minister.[36] The changes involve restricting several tax planning strategies, including passive investment income and income-sprinkling for private corporations, that are often used by small businesses.[37] In response to the criticism, Morneau made several changes, including reducing the overall small business tax rate from 11% to 9%.[38]

Minister Intergovernmental Affairs and Internal Trade

In April, 2019, Morneau was asked to take on the role of Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Internal Trade in addition to Minister of Finance, filling in for Dominic LeBlanc who stepped down for health reasons. In the role, Morneau acts as Ottawa’s ambassador to the provinces to encourage collaboration and trade. [39]

Ethical investigations

In September 2017, Morneau was fined for failing to disclose his private corporation (Mas des Morneau) that owns a property in southern France to Canada's Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Morneau has said that this was a result of early administrative confusion which led to only the property, and not the legal structure, being disclosed.[40]

In the Fall of 2017, it was revealed that based on the advise of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Morneau did not place his assets in a blind trust upon being appointed Minister of Finance, something he was incorrectly reported to have done.[41] Responding to criticism, Morneau sold the remainder of his shares in his former company, Morneau Shepell (donated a portion of the profits to charity), and placed the remainder of his assets in a blind trust.[42]

In 2018, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner cleared Morneau of additional Opposition accusations that he had benefited from insider trading.[43][44]

Morneau and his office were also cited in the Commissioner's investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair, which found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had improperly pressured then Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in an ongoing criminal case against Quebec-based construction giant SNC-Lavalin.[45]

Federal budgets

In 2016, Morneau released his first budget as Finance Minister. Items of note in the budget included $120 billion over 10 years for public infrastructure — focusing on transit, water, waste management and housing — as well as the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit. The budget also included money for First Nations communities, as well as larger seniors and employment insurance benefits.[46]

In 2017, Morneau released his second budget and Canada’s first gender-based federal budget. The budget included new federal investments in early learning and child care, more flexible benefits for family caregivers, more support for Indigenous women, and a national strategy to address gender-based violence. Additionally, Budget 2017 included $11.2-billion for an 11 year national housing strategy.[47]

2018’s budget continued the theme of greater equality for women in Canada, with money targeting new parental supports, gender equality and anti-harassment initiatives, as well as measures to promote pay equity. Budget 2018 also included new investments to tackle the opioid crisis, cope with a surge in asylum seekers crossing the border from the United States and improve living conditions for Indigenous people.[48]

In 2019, Morneau tabled his fourth budget as Finance Minister, and final one before the 2019 federal election. Budget 2019 focused on helping Canadians feel a greater sense of financial security, get the skills they need to land new jobs or be able to afford a first home. This budget also laid the groundwork for a national pharmacare program.[49]

Electoral record

2015 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Bill Morneau 29,297 57.90 +8.52 $170,325.26
New Democratic Linda McQuaig 13,467 26.61 -9.69 $198,294.34
Conservative Julian Di Battista 6,167 12.19 +3.56 $22,625.73
Green Colin Biggin 1,315 2.60 -0.37 $3,964.97
Independent Jordan Stone 147 0.29
Communist Mariam Ahmad 133 0.26
Marxist–Leninist Philip Fernandez 76 0.15 +0.03
Total valid votes/expense limit 50,602 100.0     $203,952.21
Total rejected ballots 266
Turnout 50,868
Eligible voters 66,351
Source: Elections Canada[50][51]

References

  1. ^ "Full list of Justin Trudeau's cabinet". CBC News, November 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "intergovernmental affairs minister Dominic Leblanc on leave after second cancer diagnosis". Toronto Star, April 26, 2019.
  3. ^ Vincent, Donovan (November 12, 2017). "Bill Morneau opens up about his path to the political hot seat". Toronto Star. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Globensky, Manon (22 February 2014). "Qui seront ces nouveaux candidats que le Parti libéral fédéral convoite tant?". Radio Canada. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  5. ^ Kuitenbrouwer, Peter (November 6, 2015). "A CEO, but not exactly a Bay Street guy: Bill Morneau's path to becoming Canada's finance minister". Financial Post. PostMedia. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Vincent, Donovon (November 12, 2017). Bill Morneau opens up about his path to the political hot seat. The Toronto Star
  7. ^ "A CEO, but not exactly a Bay Street guy: Bill Morneau's path to becoming Canada's finance minister". 6 November 2015.
  8. ^ McKinnon et al, Top 40 Under 40. The Globe and Mail, April 26, 2002.
  9. ^ "Morneau Shepell - About us". Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  10. ^ Morneau Shepell About Us Morneau Shepell
  11. ^ Morneau Shepell Declares July 2015 Cash Dividend. Canada NewsWire, July 21, 2015.
  12. ^ Morneau, Bill; Vettese, Fred (June 24, 2013). "What retirement crisis? Share the risk, bridge the gap". The Globe and Mail., discussing their book Vettese, Fred; Morneau, Bill (2012). The Real Retirement: Why You Could Be Better Off Than You Think, and How to Make That Happen. Toronto: J. Wiley & Sons Canada. ISBN 978-1-11849864-4.
  13. ^ St. Michael’s Hospital: William Morneau, Chair of the Board of Directors. The Globe and Mail, July 20, 2009.
  14. ^ McGreggor, Glen (Feb 24, 2014). Bill Morneau resigns from C.D. Howe Institute after Liberal convention speech Ottawa Citizen.
  15. ^ "Morneau Shepell - UNHCR Corporate Partner". Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  16. ^ Ontario Appoints Advisor To Lead Pension Investment Reforms
  17. ^ https://business.financialpost.com/investing/meet-imco-the-60-billion-ontario-investment-manager-thats-flying-under-the-radar
  18. ^ Office of the Premier (Jan 28 2014) Premier Announces Technical Advisory Group Ontario Government
  19. ^ Morrow, Adrian (December 18, 2013). Wynne stakes Ontario Liberals' fortunes on pledge for new pension plan by spring. The Globe and Mail.
  20. ^ Howlett, Karen (November 16, 2012). Pooling pension assets of public-sector workers in Ontario urged. The Globe and Mail.
  21. ^ Ontario Appoints Advisor To Lead Pension Investment Reforms. Ontario Ministry of Finance, May 30, 2012.
  22. ^ "Bill Morneau resigns from C.D. Howe Institute after Liberal convention speech". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  23. ^ Vincent, Donovon (November 12, 2017). Bill Morneau opens up about his path to the political hot seat. The Toronto Star
  24. ^ CBC News (November 4, 2015). Full list of Justin Trudeau's cabinet
  25. ^ "Finance portfolio and partners". Government of Canada. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Canadian Minister of Finance Becomes International Gender Champion". Government of Canada. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Viola Desmond $10 bill will spread story of human rights, says museum CEO". The Chronicle Herald. 8 June 2018.
  28. ^ "Finance Minister Morneau lays out new spending for Canada Child Benefit". The Hill Times. 24 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Government of Canada Announces Tax Cut to Strengthen the Middle Class". Government of Canada. 7 December 2015.
  30. ^ "Bill Morneau's clever Canada Pension Plan Deal: Walkom". Toronto Star. 22 June 2016.
  31. ^ "Health accord nearly sealed as Ontario, Quebec, Alberta reach deals". Globe and Mail. 10 March 2017.
  32. ^ "StatsCan data for 2017 shows poverty is declining — especially for children". CBC News. 26 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Bill Morneau has a good news story to tell - if anyone's listening". Maclean's. 25 October 2017.
  34. ^ Andy Blatchford (12 September 2017). "Improving economy won't knock Liberals from deficit path: Bill Morneau".
  35. ^ "FACT CHECK: Bill Morneau's budget speech". CBC News. 19 March 2019.
  36. ^ "Bill Morneau Pushed To Make Even More Changes To Small Business Tax Reforms". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  37. ^ "Morneau's small business tax changes promise simpler rules for income sprinkling". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  38. ^ MacCharles, Tonda (2017-10-16). "Federal government to cut small business tax rate to 9% by 2019". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  39. ^ "intergovernmental affairs minister Dominic Leblanc on leave after second cancer diagnosis". Toronto Star, April 26, 2019.
  40. ^ "Finance Minister Bill Morneau waited 2 years to disclose company that owns his French villa to ethics watchdog". CBC News. 15 October 2017.
  41. ^ John Geddes (17 October 2017). "Here's why Bill Morneau didn't sell his stock or set up a blind trust". Maclean's.
  42. ^ "Morneau says he's sold all shares in family's pension company, made donation to charity". CBC. 20 November 2017.
  43. ^ Tonda MacCharles (8 January 2018). "Morneau cleared by ethics watchdog on two complaints". The Toronto Star.
  44. ^ Curry, Bill (June 18, 2018). "Ethics commissioner clears Morneau of conflict over pension bill". The Globe and Mail.
  45. ^ Austen, Ian. "Trudeau Violated Ethics Law in SNC-Lavalin Case, Watchdog Finds". New York Times.
  46. ^ "Federal budget 2016: Highlights of Bill Morneau's first budget". CBC News.
  47. ^ Laura Stone & Gloria Galloway. "Federal budget highlights: 10 things you need to know".
  48. ^ Kathleen Harris. "Budget 2018: Liberals spend billions to close gaps for working women, Indigenous families". CBC News.
  49. ^ Rachel Aiello. "What the 2019 federal budget means for you". CTV News.
  50. ^ "Voter Information Service - Who are the candidates in my electoral district?". www.elections.ca.
  51. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Joe Oliver Minister of Finance
2015–present
Incumbent