New Canada finance minister Morneau brings corporate experience

Wed Nov 4, 2015 11:29am EST
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By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA Nov 4 (Reuters) - Canada's newly appointed finance minister, Bill Morneau, is a newcomer to Parliament, but brings decades of experience from Morneau Shepell, Canada's largest human resources firm, to the cabinet position.

Morneau's expertise on pension reform will likely also be a significant asset to the newly sworn in Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised during the election campaign to work with the provinces and businesses to enhance the national pension plan.

As finance minister, Morneau inherits an economy where the once-booming energy sector is struggling with the plunge in oil prices, and worries that an overvalued housing market could be in for a correction.

Trudeau has already laid out the major planks of his economic plan, which will serve as a blueprint for the budget Morneau must deliver next year.

The Liberals plan to run three years of deficits, boosting infrastructure spending in a bid to stimulate Canada's flagging economy. The new government has also pledged to raise income taxes for the richest Canadians and cut taxes for the middle class.

Morneau cut his executive teeth at Morneau Shepell, a firm founded by his father in 1966. At the time of the election, he was executive chair of the company, a position he has since resigned.

Morneau is also a former chair of the public policy think tank the C.D. Howe Institute and has been on several boards of directors. He previously worked as a pension investment advisor to Ontario's provincial finance minister and in 2014 he was appointed to a panel that advised the provincial government on how to improve the pension system.

He won the riding of Toronto Centre with nearly 60 percent of the vote, according to Elections Canada.

Morneau, 53, holds degrees in economics and business, and lives in Toronto with his wife and four children. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by David Gregorio)