David Collenette was born in London, UK in 1946 and his family emigrated to Canada in 1957. He grew up and was educated in Toronto.
A member of the House of Commons for 21 years, Mr. Collenette served in the Cabinet led by three Prime Ministers, Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and the Hon. Jean Chretien for eleven years. He held a number of portfolios including Minister of State (Multiculturalism), Minister of National Defense, Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, Minister of Transport and Minister of Crown Corporations.
As Minister of National Defense, Mr. Collenette oversaw the reorganization, restructuring and re-engineering of the department while the government confronted the severe financial deficit. As Minister of Transport, he oversaw the restructuring of the Canadian airline industry and authored a major policy document, Straight Ahead, which continues to chart the course for Canadian transportation policy.
However the most challenging period of his career was in overseeing Canada’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, which resulted in the closing of Canada’s skies and the emergency landing of 226 wide-bodied jets at aiports principaly on the east coast. In the subsequent months he worked tirelessly with colleagues and his US counterpart Norman Minetta to redesign transportation security in North America.
Sine he retired from the House of Commons Mr. Collenette has been active as adviser to companies in the transportation and defense industries as well as being Distinguished Fellow at Glendon College, York University. He has also worked in a volunteer capacity for the National Democratic Institute, based in Washington, DC, an association which dates back to 1987, and which saw him involved with missions in Haiti, Chile, Romania, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Pakistan. He is Chair of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (North America) and Vice-president, CILT International; Vice-President, Winston Churchill Society (Ottawa). He is a member of the advisory board of Parsons Brinkerhoff; the board of Harbourfront Corporation (Toronto) and the board of the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation. He had earlier served as Chancellor of the Royal Military College and as a member of the International Advisory Committee of Stanford University, California.
Mr. Collenette holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Master of Arts in political science from York University, Toronto and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. He is married to Penny Hossack Collenette. They have one son, Christopher and two grandchildren.
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