James Blanchard
Jean Charest
Raymond Chretien
Gary Doer
Michael Kergin
David Wilkins
Bruce Heyman

Honorary Patrons

Distinguished advocates for the Council of the Great Lakes Region

United States Ambassador to Canada (1993 – 1996) and Governor of Michigan (1983 – 1991)

Governor James Blanchard joined DLA Piper upon the conclusion of his duties as United States ambassador to Canada in April 1996.

In recognition of his outstanding performance as ambassador, Secretary of State Warren Christopher presented Governor Blanchard with the Foreign Affairs Award for Public Service in a ceremony at the Department of State, making him one of only a handful of ambassadors to receive this prestigious award.

James was named ambassador to Canada in May 1993, after serving two terms as governor of Michigan (1983 – 1991) and four terms as a member of the United States Congress (1975 – 1983). In 1992, he chaired President Bill Clinton’s successful campaign in Michigan. Governor Blanchard is also former chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and the National Democratic Platform Committee, as well as a former member of the National Governors Association’s executive committee.

During his tenure as ambassador, James managed a broad range of trade, natural resources, environmental and national security issues between the United States and Canada, providing support critical to the passage of both NAFTA and the Open Skies Agreement. Commenting on James’s role in the Open Skies Agreement, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said, “Tomorrow, we will show the world that even the sky is not the limit for our relationship as we sign an open skies agreement. It will enhance what is already the largest bilateral air relationship in the world. Ambassador Blanchard has played a key role in these negotiations, and he has done a fantastic job here in Ottawa. I want to take this opportunity to salute him.”

Governor Blanchard’s eight years as Michigan’s chief executive were notable for his success in turning around Michigan’s finances, working with the private sector to attract business investment and trade from around the world. He won national acclaim for his innovative approaches to economic development, education, crime fighting, environmental protection and helping children and families.

Premier of Québec (2003-2012); Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada; Partner, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

With a public service career spanning almost 30 years, Jean Charest is one of Canada’s best known political figures. Mr. Charest was first elected to the House of Commons in 1984 and, at age 28, became Canada’s youngest cabinet minister as Minister of State for Youth.

In 1991, he was named Minister of the Environment and, a year later, he led Canada’s delegation at the 1992 Earth Summit on the economy and the environment in Rio. At the summit he was praised for his leadership role among G7 countries on climate change and biodiversity.

In 1993, Mr. Charest was named Minister of Industry and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.

In 1994, Jean Charest was chosen Leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party, becoming the party’s first French Canadian leader. He held that post until 1998 when he became the Leader of the Québec Liberal Party. Mr. Charest then broke a 50-year provincial record by winning three consecutive election campaigns in 2003, 2007 and 2008.
Under his leadership, Québec experienced a sustained period of economic prosperity with stronger economic growth from 2008 to 2012 than the US, Europe, Canada and Ontario, despite a global financial and economic crisis. His government implemented a major infrastructure investment program.

The Charest government has been a world leader on the environment and climate change, having brought forward the first carbon levy in North America with the implementation of its climate change policy.

His legacy includes a major initiative for the sustainable development of Northern Québec called “Plan Nord”. The plan covers a territory above the 49th parallel of 1.2 million sq. km (twice the size of France).
In the area of energy, the Charest government pushed ahead with major hydro-electric and wind power projects that will maintain Québec’s position as the 4th biggest producer of clean and renewable hydro-electric power in the world after China, Brazil and the USA.

In International arena, the Charest government has been the most active administration in the history of Québec. Premier Charest led numerous economic missions in emerging economies including China, India, Russia and Brazil. He has been a panellist at the World Economic Forum in Davos, discussing issues ranging from environment, climate change and international trade to labour mobility.

Mr. Charest has participated in four summits of French speaking countries that include more than fifty French speaking jurisdictions, and hosted the successful 2008 edition of this grouping in Québec City (Sommet de la Francophonie).

Jean Charest initiated a ground-breaking and unprecedented labour mobility agreement between France and Québec for over eighty professions and trades. He was notably the initiator of the negotiation for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

As a leader, Mr. Charest has been a strong supporter and promoter of women in politics. In 2006 his government voted legislation that requires gender parity on the boards of the 22 most important state owned corporations, and in 2007, his 18 member cabinet had an equal number of men and women.

Jean Charest is a Partner in the Montréal office of the Canadian law firm McCarthy Tétrault. He provides invaluable expertise to the firm’s clients with his in-depth knowledge and experience with public policy, corporate Canada and international matters.

Canadian Ambassador to the United States (1994 – 2000)

Former Canadian ambassador to France, the United States, Belgium, Mexico and the Congo, Raymond Chrétien acts as Partner and Strategic Advisor at Fasken Martineau.

Raymond Chrétien has extensive knowledge and first-hand experience of senior government affairs, international financing agencies, complex issues in international negotiations and trade agreements. His experience will add further value to the advice given to our clients doing business in Canada and to Canadian businesses expanding in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Africa.

He retired from the federal public service at the beginning of 2004 after almost 38 years of service.

As early as 1966, Raymond Chrétien joined the Legal Affairs Bureau of the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and, over the next twelve years, had key assignments in Ottawa with the Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board and the Canadian International Development Agency. Outside Canada, he served at Canada’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and the Canadian Embassies in Beirut and Paris.

In 1978, he was named Canada’s Ambassador to Zaïre with joint accreditation to Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo Republic. He returned to Ottawa in 1981 where he was respectively Policy Director for Industry, Investments & Competition (81/82), Assistant Under-Secretary of Manufacturing, Technology & Transportation (82/83) and Inspector General (83/85), in the Department of External Affairs and International Trade.

In 1985, Raymond Chrétien was appointed Canada’s Ambassador to Mexico. After completing his service, he left Mexico to be named Associate Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs. Later, he served as Canada’s Ambassador to Belgium and Luxemburg from 1991-1994. In January 1994, he became Canada’s eighteenth representative to the United States of America, until September 2000.

While based in Washington in 1996, he was appointed as the Secretary General of the United Nation’s Personal Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa to undertake an assessment of the serious humanitarian crisis in the region and to make recommendations to the United Nations Security Council on the measures to resolve it.

From 2000 to 2003, Raymond Chrétien was Ambassador of Canada to France.

Canadian Ambassador to the United States (2009-2016)

Gary Doer was the 23rd Canadian Ambassador to the United States and former Premier of Manitoba.

Mr. Doer won three consecutive elections as Premier of Manitoba. In 2005, he was named by Business Week magazine as one of the top 20 international leaders on climate change. His government introduced balanced budgets during each of his ten years in office. As Premier, he led strategic investments in health care, education and infrastructure.

Mr. Doer was appointed as Canada’s Ambassador to the United States in 2009. During his six year tenure, he worked with leaders in both Canada and the US at the state and federal level to ensure Canada’s entry into the Trans-Pacific-Partnership and helped to negotiate a presidential permit for the construction of the Detroit-Windsor Bridge. Mr. Doer worked to have hydro-electric power recognized as renewable energy in the US and assisted in ushering in a new cooperative approach to regulatory reform. As Canada’s chief advocate in the US, Mr. Doer garnered support for harmonizing light vehicle emission standards and, as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, was directly involved in the signing of the border pre-clearance agreement in 2015, which enables the legitimate flow of trade and travel between Canada and the US.

In 2011, the World Affairs Council awarded Mr. Doer its distinguished diplomatic service award. He is currently volunteering as Co-Chair of the Wilson Centre’s Canada Institute, based in Washington, DC. He hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba and is married with two daughters.

Canadian Ambassador to the United States (2000 – 2005)

Mr. Kergin spent forty years with the Public Service of Canada serving in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Privy Council Office. He ended his career in government as Ambassador to the United States (2000-2005).

On leaving the Federal Government, he founded the firm Intermestic Consulting Inc., specializing in advising clients on Canada-US relations. He was appointed as Advisor on Border Management to the Premier of Ontario and subsequently Ontario’s representative in Canada’s negotiations with the USA on softwood lumber.

Mr. Kergin is a Senior Advisor at the law firm of Bennett Jones LLP and a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.

Between 2010 and 2011, he served as the Canadian Commissioner on the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigating the coup in 2009.

Mr Kergin appears on television and in the print media commenting on political and economic developments in the USA.

United States Ambassador to Canada (2005 – 2009) and Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives (1994 – 2005)

Ambassador David H. Wilkins is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and chairs the Public Policy and International Law practice group, which focuses primarily on representing businesses on both sides of the US-Canadian border and offers experience on a wide range of strategic bilateral issues.

Mr. Wilkins was nominated by President George W. Bush to become the United States Ambassador to Canada. He began his service on June 29, 2005, and served until January 20, 2009.

During his tenure, Ambassador Wilkins helped to resolve some of the highest profile issues between Canada and the United States, including the decades-old softwood lumber trade dispute. He is known on both sides of the border as an honest broker who worked for solutions on the toughest issues – energy, national security, the environment, trade and travel – impacting millions of citizens in both countries.

In 2010, Wilkins was tapped by Governor Nikki Haley to chair her government transition team and played a key role in helping her form her new administration.

Prior to his appointment as ambassador, Mr. Wilkins practiced law for 34 years in Greenville, South Carolina, and has extensive experience in civil litigation and appellate practice.

United States Ambassador to Canada (2014-2017)

Bruce Heyman was confirmed as President Obama’s personal representative to Canada on March 12, 2014 and served in this capacity until 2017.

He is a 33 year veteran of Goldman Sachs, where he served as the managing director of the Private Wealth Management Group from 1999 until December of 2013.

Mr. Heyman has served as a board member for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Foundation. He also served as an advisor to the Fix the Debt CEO Council of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. He has been a member of The Economic Club of Chicago, The Executives’ Club of Chicago, and the Facing History and Ourselves Chicago Advisory Board.

A magna cum laude graduate with both a BA and an MBA from Vanderbilt University, Mr. Heyman continues to maintain close ties to his alma mater. He is past president of the Alumni Board and a former member of the Board of Visitors at the university’s Owen Graduate School of Management.

He is married to the former Vicki Simons of Ashland, Kentucky. They have three grown children, David, Liza, and Caroline, and three grand-children, Emma, Clara, and Brooks.