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Derek Burney

Derek Hudson Burney, OC (born 1939) is a Canadian businessman. He is also a former diplomat and political strategist for the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney.

Life and career

Burney was born in Fort William, Ontario (now known as Thunder Bay) to George William Burney (1886–1951) of Westville, Nova Scotia, and Annie Mary MacKay (1906–1995), who was born in Durban, South Africa but grew up on the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides.[1]

Burney attended Fort William Collegiate Institute. He then went on to study at Queen's University, where he received his B.A. degree in 1962, followed by his M.A. degree in 1964.

He then entered the federal public service and the Canadian diplomatic corps, subsequently serving in Japan and, as Ambassador, in Korea. From 1987 to 1989 he served as Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

After leaving the post of Chief of Staff in 1989, Burney became Canada's Ambassador to the United States. He would serve in this position until 1993.[2]

Burney was then hired by Bell Canada and worked as Chairman and CEO of the company from 1993 to 1999. He then moved to CAE Inc., serving as President and CEO until 2004. The boards of directors on which Burney has sat or now sits include CanWest Global Communications (which went bankrupt), Quebecor World Inc., Shell Canada and TransCanada Corp.. He is currently the president of the board of New Brunswick Power and serves on the advisory board of Paradigm Capital.

Among other things, he now teaches at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.

On January 24, 2006, newly elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Burney would play a key role in the transfer of power from Paul Martin's Liberals to Harper's Conservatives.

On January 24, 2013, Lakehead University announced that Burney would become its 8th Chancellor

His son Derek Burney Jr. was the president of Corel Corporation for several years and now works for Microsoft.


Burney has received many honours in recognition of his work. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1993, and has been conferred honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Lakehead University, Queen's University, Carleton University, and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Burney has a street named after him in his home town of Thunder Bay. Derek Burney Drive is home to the Confederation College Aviation Centre of Excellence and Ornge hangar.



  • Burney, Derek. Getting It Done: A Memoir. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-7735-2926-8.

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