Prime Minister announces appointment of independent advisor

Ottawa, Ontario
14 November 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today the appointment of Professor David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo, as Independent Advisor to conduct an impartial review of allegations respecting the financial dealings between Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, in order to make recommendations for an appropriate mandate for a public inquiry. This appointment is effective immediately.

Professor Johnston will provide his final report to the Prime Minister, in both official languages, by January 11, 2008.

“I am confident that Professor Johnston will carry out his duties with diligence and rigour”, said Prime Minister Harper. ”As an independent and impartial third party advisor, Professor Johnston will provide the government with the parameters for the public inquiry as well as any other course of action that may be required.”

An eminent lawyer with a distinguished academic career, Professor Johnston was Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario from 1974 to 1979, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University from 1979 to 1994 and has served as President of the University of Waterloo since June 1999.  Professor Johnston has served on numerous provincial and federal task forces and committees.  Recognized for his considerable legal experience and expertise, Professor Johnston is ideally suited to conduct this review and provide independent advice to the government on these allegations and the way forward.

Terms of reference and biographical notes on Professor Johnston are attached.  Professor Johnston will be unavailable for public comment until his report is completed.

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Whereas Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber has made various allegations with respect to his financial dealings with the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, P.C., that go beyond the private interests of the parties, including in an affidavit sworn on November 7, 2007; and

Whereas the allegations with respect to the Right Honourable Mulroney’s time as Prime Minister, although unproven and in part conflicting with other available information, raise questions respecting the integrity of an important office of the Government of Canada;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, pursuant to paragraph 127.1(1)© of the Public Service Employment Act, hereby appoints to the position of special adviser to the Prime Minister, David Johnston of St. Clements, Ontario, as Independent Advisor, to hold office during pleasure, for a term ending on January 11, 2008; and

(a)  specifies the duties of the Independent Advisor as to conduct an independent review of those allegations respecting financial dealings between Mr. Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, P.C., and to submit to the Prime Minister by January 11, 2008 a report in both official languages, which shall

(i) make recommendations as to the appropriate mandate for a  public inquiry into those allegations, including the specific issues that warrant examination, under the Inquiries Act,

(ii) state whether the Independent Advisor, in the course of his review, has determined that there is any prima facie evidence of criminal action; in that case, the report shall make recommendations as to how this determination should be dealt with, and what should be the appropriate mandate and timing for a formal public inquiry in those circumstances, and

(iii) make recommendations as to whether any additional course of action may be appropriate;

(b)  authorizes the Independent Advisor to adopt procedures for the expedient and proper conduct of the independent review, including reviewing relevant records and documents and consulting as appropriate;

© fixes his remuneration as set out in the attached schedule, which per diem is within the range ($1,200 - $1,400); and

(d) authorizes the payment, in accordance with Treasury Board policies, of the following expenses incurred in the course of his duties:

(i) travel and living expenses while in travel status in Canada while away from his normal place of residence in accordance with the Treasury Board Travel Directive and Special Travel Authorities,

(ii) expert staff, as required, and

(iii) any other reasonable expenses as necessary to conduct the independent review.


David Johnston completed his university studies with honours in three countries: the United States (Harvard, A.B. 1963), England (Cambridge, LL.B 1965) and Canada (Queen’s, LL.B. 1966).  His academic specializations are securities regulation, corporation and information technology law. 

David Johnston began his professional career as Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University (1966), moving to the Law Faculty at the University of Toronto in 1968.  He became Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974.  In 1979, he was named the 14th Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University.  In July 1994, he returned to the McGill’s Faculty of Law as a full-time Professor.  In June 1999 he became the 5th President of the University of Waterloo.

Among many honours accorded David Johnston are honourary doctorates from twelve universities and Companion of the Order of Canada.  He is the author/co-author of numerous books, including Getting Canada Online:  Understanding the Information Highway, which is intended to challenge Canadians to use the information revolution to build a more economically competitive and civic society, also Cyberlaw, Communication Law and most recently Canadian Securities Regulation, 4th edition.

David Johnston has served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees and is on the boards of a number of companies and foundations.  He was President of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (1985-87) and of the Conférence de recteurs et des principaux des universitiés du Québec (1985-87).  He was the founding chair of the National Round Table on Environment and the Economy (1988-91).  More recently he has chaired the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Neuroscience Network Centre of Excellence, the Federal Government’s Information Highway Advisory Council, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Smart Communities, the Advisory Committee on Online Learning, the National Broadband Task Force, and the Canadian Information System for the Environment. He is a member of Ontario’s Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress, and Canada’s Sustainable Development Technology Foundation. He currently is a Board member of Masco Corp., CGI, Fairfax Financial and a founding trustee of the MasterCard Foundation.

He and his wife, Dr. Sharon Johnston, have five daughters and live on a farm near the University of Waterloo in Heidelberg, Ontario.