Board of Directors
Don Mercer, President
Don Mercer has been involved in a variety of roles with the Council since he retired in April 2007 after a long career in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver with Competition Bureau Canada, which administers the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act, the Textiles Act and the Precious Metals Marking Act. These laws, intended by Parliament to foster healthy competition and a trust in the marketplace, interdict anti-competitive behaviour, such as price-fixing and abuse of dominance among marketplace players and help ensure trust in Canada’s marketplace by outlawing misleading advertising, misrepresentations, fraud and deception.
From 2014 to present, Don has been an active member of the Payments Canada Stakeholder Advisory Council, an Advisory Council mandated by the federal law governing Payments Canada which operates the core of the Canadian payments system and currently processes over 3 million dollars CAD in transactions per second ($51 trillion CAD per year). From 2010 and 2011, he was a Member of the External Stakeholder Advisory Committee with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. He is a current member of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Consumer Protection Advisory Committee.
Don and spouse Susan are ardent boaters, walkers and global travellers. Don has held senior positions locally, regionally and nationally in Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons – volunteers focused on teaching boating skills. He is also Director, International Service, Rotary Club of Ladysmith, B.C., which has a long-term involvement in sustainable development projects with other Rotary Clubs with a Mayan Women’s group in Guatemala.
He resides in Ladysmith, British Columbia
Julie Caissie, Vice President
Julie Caissie is a professor in Family Studies at Université de Moncton and the owner of the company JC Research and Consultation. An active registered Home Economist, Ms. Caissie has been promoting the importance of this field for several years and firmly believes in its future. In addition to her involvement with the New Brunswick Home Economics Association, she sits on various national committees to defend the rights of families and individuals across Canada. She is the representative of the Atlantic provinces of the Canadian Home Economics Foundation.
Ms. Caissie has in-depth knowledge and extensive experience in the following sectors; poverty reduction, family intervention, housing, aging population, financial literacy and child development. She recently published two research papers as co-author relating to the aging population in collaboration with a colleague from the Université de Moncton and she is supervising two provincial projects relating to the importance of the caregiver role in New Brunswick. She is also collaborating on projects relating to better understanding children’s emotions and the health of aboriginal children in the northern part of New Brunswick.
She resides with her husband in Dieppe, New Brunswick
Ashish Sharma, Secretary
Ashish Sharma is a community organizer and U.S.-licensed attorney with experience with large-scale litigation involving information governance, consumer protections, and electronic discovery. A Toronto native, Ashish has lived and worked around Canada and the United States including Windsor, Detroit, Seattle, and Los Angeles organizing at all levels from small city council elections, mayoral races, and national campaigns. His legal experience includes financial regulations, data breach, information protection, international law, and he has worked with the ABA’s American Immigration Council providing pro bono legal defense to detainees in ICE Detention Centers. Ashish holds a BA from the University of Windsor and a JD from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
He resides in Pickering, Ontario
Trevor Shaw, Treasurer
Trevor Shaw is a professional auditor and accountant with designations of Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified Management Consultant (CMC), and Certified Quality Auditor (CQA). He is a member of various professional bodies including CPA Institute, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES), the Institute of Certified Management Consultants, and the American Society for Quality. Trevor has more than 40 years of diverse audit experience in both public and private sectors. In approaching his work he is innovative and integrative and values both people and results. He is familiar with accounting, audit and evaluation standards, guidance, and functions as pronounced by various professional bodies. For 30 years (1984 to 2014) Trevor was a Director and then Principal (senior management) with the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. He conducted many performance audits to evaluate a wide range of government departments, agencies and Crown corporations at both the federal and provincial levels in Canada.
He resides in Ottawa.
Chris Ballard, Director
Chris Ballard is Chief Executive Officer of Passive House Canada, a national non-profit professional association advocating for the Passive House high-performance building standard. He is a former member of the Ontario Legislature and Ontario cabinet, serving as Minister of Housing, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Chris is an experienced communications and public affairs executive with a background that also includes strategic planning, business development and project management. Chris has been president of CSB Communications Inc., a small consulting firm, since 1989. He has worked with a wide variety of clients, including associations, small and medium sized businesses, governments and multi-national corporations. Chris has extensive expertise in facilitation, project management, quantitative and qualitative research and has conducted surveys, focus groups and workshops on behalf of a variety of corporate, government and not-for-profit organizations. Chris has a background in consumer advocacy and consumer affairs. He was a founding board member of the Consumers Council of Canada, a past executive director of the Consumer’s Association of Canada (Ontario), (and managed its transition into the Council), a member of the provincial Retail Sector Strategy. Chris is an honourary lifetime member of the Public Affairs Association of Canada and served in various capacities, including President. During the past 15 years Chris has worked closely with numerous First Nation communities across Canada’s far north, in business development, governance and sustainability. He is active in his community of Aurora, Ontario, where he served as a Town Councilor.
He resides in Aurora, Ontario.
Michael Jenkin, Director
Michael Jenkin is a former federal public servant with more than 36 years’ experience in public policy research and management. He last served as Director General of the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) at Industry Canada, a position he held from 1999 to 2014. During his time at OCA, Michael also served as the Federal Co-Chair of the Consumer Measures Committee, a group charged with harmonizing federal, provincial and territorial consumer protection measures, and, from 2008 to 2014, as the Chair of the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy.
Michael has held a number of other senior positions in the industry department including: Director General of Strategic Planning and Corporate Development in the Operations Sector; Director General, Strategic Policy and Consultations; Director General, Industrial Competitiveness and Director of Economic Development Policy in the Industry and Science Policy Sector. He has worked for several other federal departments and agencies, including: the Ministry of State for Economic and Regional Development and the Federal-Provincial Relations Office and has served as a Science Adviser with the Science Council of Canada.
Michael obtained his Bachelor’s degree (Honours) in politics, history and economics from Trent University in 1972. He also pursued graduate studies at the University of Manchester (UK) on a Commonwealth Scholarship where he received an MA (Econ.), and PhD in government. He has written a number of articles and books on federal-provincial relations and on industrial, science and technology, and consumer policy.
Michael has received a number of awards, including: City of Ottawa Whitton Award for community service in 2002, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for community and public service in 2012, and the Public Service Award of Excellence for Outstanding Career in 2014 which was awarded by the Clerk of the Privy Council and presented by the Governor General. In 2014 the City of Ottawa also named the main community hall in the Ottawa South Community Centre after Michael in honour of his contribution to community in Old Ottawa South. In addition to his long involvement with his community association, Michael recently served on the Board of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre as its Vice- Chair (2016-2019). Michael is married with two adult sons.
He resides in Ottawa.
Tracy MacCharles, Director
Tracy MacCharles is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. She was a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 2011 to 2018 who represented the riding of Pickering— Scarborough East. She was a member of cabinet in the government of Kathleen Wynne. MacCharles was born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario. She went to Brock University where she obtained a degree in Business and Public Administration. She worked in human resources management in various roles including Vice President of Human Resources at Manulife Financial. She was chair of the Ontario Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and was a member of the Durham Board of Education’s Special Education Advisory Committee. MacCharles ran successfully in the 2011 provincial election as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Pickering—Scarborough East. She was easily re-elected in the 2014 election defeating Gaudet again, this time by 10,505 votes.
On November 10, 2011, MacCharles was appointed as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. On February 11, 2013 she was sworn in as Minister of Consumer Services. On June 24, 2014 she was appointed Minister of Children and Youth Services as well as Minister responsible for Women’s Issues.
MacCharles moved to the role of Minister without portfolio, responsible for accessibility and women’s issues in Ontario. On January 12, 2017, she was promoted to the position of Minister of Government and Consumer Services.
MacCharles announced her retirement from provincial politics in April 2018, before the most recent Ontario election.
She resides in Pickering, Ontario.
Agni Shah, Director
Agni Shah is a former professor teaching package development, pharmaceuticals quality assurance and Quality Fundamentals at Seneca and Sheridan Colleges. He worked for more than 23 years in the pharmaceuticals industry in quality assurance, systems administration and regulatory affairs after similar positions in the food industry in the UK and Africa. He has served as Vice Chair with Consumer and Public Interest Panel of the Standards Council of Canada, been a Chair and member of various working groups, Reviews and Mirror Committees. He has volunteered with United Way in Citizen Review Process, Canada Revenue Agency in the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program and a number of Social Agencies as a Mentor / Trainer. He has held Board level positions with Halton-Peel District Health Council (Order in Council Appointment), Community Care Access Center, Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board and Leadership Peel. He has been on Consumer/Community Advisory Committees with Travel Industry Council of Ontario, Trillium Health Center and Peel Newcomer Strategy Group. He has mentored immigrants through STEM and HOST programs, students and those starting economic life in Canada. His current involvement includes providing patient/caregiver/family/citizen input on a volunteer basis to various initiatives run by a hospital group concerning records, communications and medication safety in a hospital setting.
He resides in Hamilton, Ontario.
Larry Swartz, Director
Larry Swartz is a professional leader, award-winning lawyer, CFA Charterholder, in-house counsel. He has expertise in independent financial, regulatory compliance, pensions, corporate governance practice. He is a member of the adjunct Faculty at Osgoode Hall Law School, with an emphasis on investments and insurance, administration and risk management, contracts and drafting, restructuring and insolvency, mergers and acquisitions, negotiation and litigation, benefits and tax. He has worked for Canada’s largest firm administering pensions and fastest growing administrator of retirement savings plans. Experience includes public sector, financial institutions, and international law.
He resides in Toronto.
Ken Whitehurst, Executive Director
Ken Whitehurst has served as Director of Research and Communications and then Executive Director of the Consumers Council of Canada since 2008. He has 30 years of senior-level general and project management experience in consumer representation and research; news media; sales, marketing and regulated disclosure communications; business information systems; management consulting; and financial services.
He has served as manager for Canada of news agency United Press International, vice president and general manager of broadcast news network Standard Broadcast News, director of media services for Global Strategy Financial Inc., and editor-in-chief of Metroland North Media.
He resides in Aurora, Ontario.