Paul Desmarais Jr.

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Paul Desmarais Jr. OC OQ (born July 3, 1954) is a Canadian businessman in his hometown of Montreal.

Paul Desmarais Jr.

Born (1954-07-03) July 3, 1954 (age 66)
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Alma mater
Known forChairman of Power Corporation of Canada
Spouse(s)Hélène Desmarais
ChildrenPaul Desmarais III
Parent(s)Paul Desmarais Sr.
Jacqueline Maranger
RelativesAndré Desmarais (brother)

He is the eldest son of Paul Desmarais Sr. and Jacqueline (Maranger) Desmarais. Currently he is the Chairman of Power Corporation of Canada.[1]

Desmarais was born in Sudbury, Ontario. He was educated at Lakefield College School in Lakefield, Ontario, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, where he earned a Master of Business Administration. He is a Roman Catholic.[2]

Paul Desmarais is married to Hélène Desmarais, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Centre d’entreprises et d’innovation de Montréal (CEIM).[3] They have four children: Paul III, Alexandre, Nicolas, and Charles-Édouard.


Paul Desmarais Jr. began his career with S.G. Warburg & Co. in London, England, and with Standard Brands Incorporated in New York. He then joined Power Corporation of Canada in 1981 and assumed the position of Vice-President the following year. In 1984, he led the creation of Power Financial Corporation, where he served as Vice-President from 1984 to 1986, as President and Chief Operating Officer from 1986 to 1989, as Executive Vice Chairman from 1989 to 1990, as Executive Chairman from 1990 to 2005, as Chairman of the Executive Committee from 2006 to 2008, as Executive Co-Chairman from 2008 to 2020, and as Chairman since 2020.[4]

He also served as Vice-Chairman of Power Corporation from 1991 to 1996. He was named Chairman and Co-CEO of Power Corporation in 1996.[5] On February 13, 2020, Paul Desmarais Jr. retired from the functions of Co-CEO and continues to play an active role in the governance of Power Corporation as Chairman of its Board of Directors.

In August 2016, the Wall Street Journal stated that Paul Desmarais Jr. and his brother André “are readying their 34-year-old sons (Paul Desmarais III and Olivier Desmarais) to take over Power Corp”.[6]

Board membershipsEdit

He was Vice-Chairman of the Board and a Director of Imerys (France) from 1998 until 2008 and a Director of GDF Suez (France), a multinational corporation that is a world leader in the water utilities sector, from 2008 until 2014. He was also a director of Total until 2017.

He is Chairman of the Board of Governors of The International Economic Forum of the Americas (Canada), which holds four annual conferences, including the Conference of Montreal,[7] as well as member of The Business Council of Canada and The Business Council (United States).[8]Mr. Desmarais is also a Trustee of The Brookings Institution, Co-Chair of the Brookings International Advisory Council and a member of the Brookings Executive Committee. He is a member of the Global Board of Advisors of the Council on Foreign Relations (United States).

He is a member of the Global Advisory Council of Harvard.[9]

He is also active on a number of philanthropic advisory councils.

Philanthropic activitiesEdit

Paul Desmarais Jr. is involved with Centraide of Greater Montréal; he founded the Major Donors Circle in 1997 and had been its Honorary Chairman for many years, until 2017.[10] He received the 2018 Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire Award and became the first Governor Emeritus for his contribution and support in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.[11] He is also one of the Honorary Chairs of the Healing More Better campaign of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.[12]

In 2014 Desmarais participated in a ski expedition to the North Magnetic Pole, organized by True Patriot Love, Canada’s largest charity supporting military families. The goal of the expedition was to raise awareness of the physical and mental injuries that continue to impact Canadian soldiers.[13]

Desmarais was Co-Chair of the “A Force of Nature” national campaign of Nature Conservancy Canada from April 1, 2007 to December 31, 2012. The national campaign raised more than $500 million and protected 752,000 acres (300,000 hectares) of at-risk natural habitat across Canada, home to more than 145 species at risk.[14]


  • In 1992, he received the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal[15]
  • In 1994, he received the 'Insigne d'Officier de l'Ordre de la Couronne' in Belgium[16]
  • In 2002, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal[17]
  • In 2005, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada[18]
  • In 2005, he received the Executive of the Year Award from the Academy of International Business[19]
  • In 2005, he was honored by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal as a “Great Montrealer”[20]
  • In 2006, he received a Doctorat Honoris Causa from the Université Laval[21]
  • In 2008, he received a Doctorat Honoris Causa from the Université de Montréal
  • In 2009, he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec[22]
  • In 2012, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal[23] and was named Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in France[24]
  • In 2017, he was named Governor Emeritus of Centraide
  • In 2018, he received the Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire Award for his outstanding contribution to Centraide[25]
  • In 2018, he received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraiser Professionals[26]
  • In 2019, he received an honorary degree from the University of Manitoba[27]
  • In 2019, he received an honorary degree from McMaster University[28]


  1. ^ "Power Corporation and Power Financial Announce Completion of Reorganization and the Determination of the Final Offer Price for the Pre-Emptive Right - Press Releases". Retrieved 2020-03-23.
  2. ^ Like father, like sons?, The Globe and Mail, May 25, 2006.
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  6. ^ Das, Anupreeta; Mackrael, Kim (2016-08-22). "Canada's Desmarais Clan: A New Generation Takes Control". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  7. ^ "Board of Governors – IEFA". Archived from the original on 2017-09-25. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  8. ^ "Board of Directors". Business Council of Canada. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
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  14. ^ Archived 2015-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
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  24. ^ "Board of Governors - International Economic Forum of the Americas". International Economic Forum of the Americas. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  25. ^ "Michèle Thibodeau-De-Guire Award - Paul Desmarais Jr". Centraide. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  26. ^ "Association of Fundraising Professionals".
  27. ^ "Outstanding graduates and remarkable Canadians are recipients of honorary degrees at U of M's 140th Spring Convocation".