The federal Liberals are expected to name Ehren Cory as the new chief executive of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, according to government sources, tapping the veteran Ontario CEO as leader of the three-year-old Crown corporation.
Mr. Cory is currently CEO of Infrastructure Ontario, the province’s infrastructure agency, and is expected to be named head of the federal organization as soon as next week.
Landing a new leader is part of the Trudeau government’s effort to reboot the infrastructure bank, which was created in 2017 with $35-billion of committed capital, but has struggled to move forward on projects. The Toronto-based bank parted ways with its first CEO, Pierre Lavallée, in April, and named former Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec CEO Michael Sabia as its chair.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mr. Sabia sharpened the infrastructure bank’s focus by announcing plans to target $10-billion worth of investments in sectors such as clean power, electric buses, rural broadband and agricultural irrigation. In an interview, Mr. Sabia said the organization puts a priority on moving forward quickly on projects and is expecting to land a new CEO in the near future, but declined to identify the individual.
Mr. Cory has a track record of delivering on complex projects, according to individuals who worked with him in the past. The graduate of Western University and France’s INSEAD business school joined Infrastructure Ontario in 2012 after leading the Canadian public sector and capital projects groups at McKinsey & Co. in Toronto and spending 11 years at the consulting firm. At one stage, he ran the team that tendered and built all of Ontario’s major infrastructure projects.
In 2017, then-Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne named Mr. Cory CEO of the agency. Infrastructure Ontario oversaw $7-billion worth of projects last year, including hospitals and mass transit systems. Many were developed with private sector partners. In a news conference on Thursday, Mr. Sabia stressed that the mandate of the infrastructure bank is to develop projects across the country alongside private companies and institutional investors.
Mr. Cory has a strong relationship with former Toronto-Dominion Bank CEO Ed Clark, who served as Ms. Wynne’s economic adviser, according to sources in the Ontario government. Several veterans of the Ontario Liberal Party now have prominent roles in the Prime Minister’s Office or are among Mr. Trudeau’s circle of friends.
In January, Mr. Cory announced plans to leave Infrastructure Ontario. ″In many ways, working at Infrastructure Ontario has been a dream job for me – a chance to combine private sector thinking and the public good," Mr. Cory said in a note to the agency’s 520 employees. “It’s also an opportunity that I have always planned on being one stop in my overall career journey.”
Infrastructure Ontario named an new leader, Michael Lindsay, in mid-September and he is currently scheduled to start on Nov. 1. On Friday, Infrastructure Ontario spokesman Ian McConachie said: “Ehren’s term as CEO runs to the end of October. At this time, he has not announced his future plans.” The Canada Infrastructure Bank declined to comment on its leadership plans.
The federal government’s search for a new leader at the infrastructure bank was delayed by lengthy negotiations with potential candidates over compensation, according to a source familiar with the hiring process. The Globe and Mail agreed not to name this individual, who is not authorized to speak for the government.
The former CEO, Mr. Lavallée, earned a base salary of $600,000. His pay package also included performance bonuses that could have boosted total compensation to $2.82-million in the final year of a five-year contract.
The infrastructure bank’s next CEO is expected to receive lower potential performance payouts, according to the government source, which could mean the new boss makes less than some members of the existing executive team. Mr. Cory took home $503,580 last year at Infrastructure Ontario, according to provincial government filings.
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.