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Stronger Ties with World’s Best and Brightest in Priority Markets: Goal of International Education Strategy

Expert panel will advise Government of Canada on matter crucial to Canada’s economic prosperity

(No. 300 - October 13, 2011 - 8:30 a.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, along with the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Ted Menzies, Minister of State (Finance), today announced the formation of an expert advisory panel to Canada’s International Education Strategy to make recommendations to the government on how to develop and implement an international education strategy as part of the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

"I am proud to announce that we are establishing an advisory panel of eminent Canadians that will advise the government as we develop and implement an international education strategy—an initiative that is critical to Canada’s continued economic growth and prosperity," said Minister Fast in a keynote speech in Beijing to representatives of over 90 Canadian educational institutions.

The expert panel will advise the government on attracting the best and brightest international students to Canada; strengthening Canada’s engagement with emerging priority markets; expanding the delivery of Canadian expertise, knowledge and education services abroad; and promoting partnerships between Canadian and international education institutions.

"Education, innovation and knowledge are now key drivers in a world economy that is increasingly interconnected through global supply chains, trade alliances between countries, and businesses seeking to expand and succeed in high-growth markets around the world," said Minister Fast. "Attracting more international students and researchers to Canada will create jobs and economic growth, expand our people-to-people ties in priority markets, showcase Canadian research excellence abroad, help produce a more skilled workforce and foster closer ties between Canadian and international education institutions."

"Our government’s unprecedented investments in higher-education research and development have helped keep Canada in the top rank of G-7 countries," said Minister Flaherty. "They demonstrate the essential role innovation plays in boosting our nation’s productivity and standard of living. Now, with this prestigious new panel, we can go even further, partnering with our nation’s education leaders to reach out to recognized global institutions and unleash Canada’s full potential in international education."

"International students contribute $6.5 billion to the Canadian economy every year," said Minister of State Menzies during an address at Algonquin College in Ottawa. "Enhancing our nation’s ability to attract top students and researchers will help build the international networks that will strengthen Canada’s position as a leading player in the global economy."

The Canadians selected by ministers Fast and Flaherty to help formulate recommendations for the international education strategy are:

  • Amit Chakma, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Western Ontario (Panel Chair);
  • André Bisson, Chair of the Board, Centre for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations, lead director, Transat A.T. and Chancellor Emeritus, Université de Montréal;
  • Jacynthe Côté, President and CEO, Rio Tinto Alcan;
  • Colin Dodds, President, Saint Mary’s University;
  • Lorna Smith, Director, Office of International Education, Mount Royal University; and
  • Don Wright, President, British Columbia Institute of Technology.

"I am honoured to have been asked to serve as chair of the advisory panel that will make recommendations to ministers Fast and Flaherty on the development of the Government of Canada’s international education strategy," said Mr. Chakma. "I look forward to working with fellow panel members as we begin this important work, and we commend the Government of Canada for recognizing the need for a comprehensive international education plan."

The strategy will be announced once the new advisory panel has consulted with provinces and territories, partners and stakeholders from the education sector across the country. The advisory panel is expected to report to the ministers of International Trade and Finance in early 2012, and the strategy is expected to be released shortly afterwards.

For more information on Canada’s international education programs, please visit International Education and Youth.

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A backgrounder with biographies of advisory panel members follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade

Bram Sepers
Office of the Minister of State (Finance)

Backgrounder – Advisory Panel on International Education Strategy

On October 13, 2011, the Government of Canada announced the formation of an advisory panel that will, among other things, deliver recommendations on a stronger international education strategy to attract international students to Canada. The advisory panel will consult with stakeholders in the education sector and develop recommendations that will reinforce Canada as a country of choice for those seeking to study and conduct world-class research, strengthen Canada’s engagement with emerging economies, and ensure greater collaboration between Canadian and foreign institutions. The advisory panel will report to the ministers of International Trade and Finance in early 2012. Formation of the panel builds on a commitment made in Budget 2011, which provided $10 million over two years to develop an international education strategy as part of the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.


Amit Chakma (Panel Chair) is President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario. Mr. Chakma joined Western from the University of Waterloo, where, from 2001 to 2009, he was vice-president (academic) and provost, and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Before that he was dean of engineering and then vice-president (research) and international liaison officer at the University of Regina. He began his academic career as a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary. Mr. Chakma is a graduate of the Algerian Petroleum Institute (Engineering Diploma, 1982) and the University of British Columbia (MASc, 1984, and PhD [Chemical Engineering] 1987). In addition to his roles at Western, Mr. Chakma currently serves as vice-chair of the World University Service of Canada.

André Bisson is Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations, lead director of Transat A.T. and Chancellor Emeritus of Université de Montréal. He has been chancellor and chair of the board of Université de Montréal, chair and general manager of Burson-Marsteller Québec, and president of Maxwell Communications Canada and Logistec Corporation. Previously he was senior vice-president and general manager, Quebec, at Scotiabank for 16 years. He became the founding director of the Institute of Canadian Bankers after being on the faculty of the Université Laval School of Business. He has an MBA from Harvard University and a BA from Université Laval.

Jacynthe Côté has been president and CEO of Rio Tinto Alcan’s Primary Metal business unit since 2007, with responsibility for all primary metal facilities and power generation installations worldwide. Primary Metal has 19,400 employees in 45 facilities around the world. From 2005 to 2007, Ms. Côté served as president and CEO of Alcan’s Bauxite and Alumina business unit and senior vice-president of Alcan Inc. In 2000, she was appointed vice-president of business planning and development at Primary Metal, and, in 2003, took on the role of vice-president of human resources, environment, health and safety in the same unit. In 1996, she was named plant manager of the Beauharnois, Quebec, smelter and, in 1999, was transferred to the Lynemouth smelter in the United Kingdom as plant manager. Ms. Côté joined Alcan in 1988 as a process analyst at the Vaudreuil Works in Saguenay, Quebec. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Université Laval.

Colin Dodds is President of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and a director on the board of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. He joined the faculty of Saint Mary’s Sobey School of Business in September 1982, and became departmental chair (Finance and Management Science) and MBA director in 1984. He was appointed dean of the Sobey School of Business in 1987 and vice-president (academic and research) in 1991. He assumed the presidency in 2000. Mr. Dodds is former chair of the board of the Canadian Bureau for International Education, and is past chair of the Canadian Scholarship Trust. He has been named one of Atlantic Canada’s top 50 CEOs, and received many other awards. He has published many books, journal articles and conference papers, particularly on financial markets. He continues to teach international finance to graduate students at Saint Mary’s University. Educated in the United Kingdom and holding BA, BSc, MA and PhD degrees, Mr. Dodds has taught at many universities in the U.K. (Sheffield, Birmingham and Hull), Asia and Canada (McMaster and Brock).

Lorna Smith has been Director of the Office of International Education at Mount Royal University since its inception in 1988. A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Ms. Smith has a BA, MA and BEd from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and has completed doctoral studies at the University of Calgary. She has served on the national boards of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges and the Canadian Bureau for International Education. She is currently on the board of the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration. Ms. Smith is the International Liaison Officer for Mount Royal University at the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. She has taught in Canada, the United States, Germany and the former Soviet Union.

Don Wright is President of the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Mr. Wright’s career includes experience as a teacher (at several universities), a senior government official and a private sector executive. He served as deputy minister in the ministries of Finance, Forests, Economic Development and Education in the Saskatchewan and British Columbia governments. He was British Columbia’s deputy minister of education from 1996 to 1997. Mr. Wright was vice-president of forestry, environment and corporate affairs with Weldwood of Canada from 1997 to 2001. He returned to public life in 2001 and served as the British Columbia deputy minister of forests until 2003. In 2003, he established Analytica Consulting, which provided advice to public and private sector clients. Mr. Wright holds a BCom from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master’s degree (Economics) from the University of British Columbia and a PhD (Economics) from Harvard University.