Mr. Collenette advises public and private transportation & infrastructure clients on a broad range of policy and regulatory issues relating to the airline, railway, shipping and marine sectors.
As Minister of Transport from 1996-2003, Mr. Collenette authored a major policy document, Straight Ahead, which charted a course for Canadian transportation policy for the next decade. In addition he was able to initiate a number of legislative changes, including the Canada Marine Act and amendments to the Competition Act to deal with the restructuring of the Canadian airline industry. In this portfolio, one of the most active files involved the merger of Canadian Airlines and Air Canada. He also successfully secured the first substantial increase in funding for Via Rail since cuts in 1981, 1990 and 1994.
On September 11, 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) closed down U.S. airspace after a series of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. After the FAA closed down U.S. airspace, Collenette acted swiftly, with sole legislative authority, to shut down Canadian airspace in order to take in diverted U.S. – bound international flights, launching Transport Canada’s Operation Yellow Ribbon. Ultimately, 226 flights carrying 33,000 passengers were diverted to 15 Canadian airports. In the following days, weeks and months he worked with his colleague, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the FAA, the U.S. Coast Guard and the newly created Department of Homeland Security to revise transportation security policies and regulations.
In the last two years he served in Cabinet, Mr. Collenette was also responsible for 10 Crown Corporations, including Canada Post; VIA Rail, the national passenger rail corporation; Marine Atlantic, a constitutionally mandated service operating four passenger car/truck/ferries between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, established post 9-11, to implement passenger and non-passenger screening at Canadian airports. He represented the shareholder in discussions with the relevant Boards of Directors and approved annual corporate plans as well as substantive structural transactions such as acquisitions, divestitures, and tariff increases.
In 2007, Mr. Collenette served as the Chair of the Mayor of Ottawa’s Transportation Task Force which recommended an expanded rail network across the National Capital and several communities in Eastern Ontario as well as portions of the Outaouais region in Western Quebec. The recommendation to build an east-west transit line with the downtown portion in a tunnel was subsequently accepted by the City Council. The new LRT line opened in 2019.
From 2015-2018 David served as the Ontario government’s Special Advisor for High-Speed Rail