Former Ottawa Board of Trade chief Ian Faris lands role at Canadian Chamber of Commerce


Less than a month after departing the Ottawa Board of Trade, the group’s former leader is taking on a new advocacy role with an organization that lobbies on behalf of more than a quarter of a million businesses across Canada.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said this week that Ian Faris will take on the newly created position of senior vice-president of chamber network relations and advocacy effective Nov. 25. Faris most recently spent more than six years as president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade, where he oversaw the merger of the city’s three former chambers of commerce into one organization. 

With more than 450 member organizations representing in excess of 250,000 businesses in all regions of the country, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce provides a voice for enterprises both large and small, from Facebook Canada to Ottawa-based software firm Westboro Photonics. 

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Among its main priorities is promoting business-friendly public policies and regulations. Two years ago, for example, it led the charge against federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s plan to close a series of corporate tax loopholes, a proposal than angered many small businesses and self-employed professionals such as doctors and accountants.

As part of his role, Faris will criss-cross the country getting input from local chambers of commerce and business members on how they work together more effectively to promote the organization’s agenda, chief operating officer Jackie King said.

“When we were looking into the market on the right leader for that, obviously Ian rose to the top,” she said, calling Faris “a bit of a unicorn” because of his wide-ranging experience as a policy adviser in the federal government as well as a lobbyist with organizations such as the Canadian Brewers Association.

King said Faris brings a formidable combination of top-notch networking skills and in-depth grasp of business issues to his new job. 

“Obviously, he’s got really strong policy and political chops,” she said. “Anybody that’s worked with Ian will tell you that his ability to build and strengthen relationships is absolutely vital in what he’s going to be asked to do here.”

A former board member with the then-Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, King worked closely alongside Faris when he spearheaded a drive to unite the Ottawa chamber, the West Ottawa Board of Trade and the Orl​éans Chamber of Commerce into a single entity. The three organizations formally merged last year to create the Ottawa Board of Trade.

King said Faris’s leadership on the amalgamation file will be vital as chambers in other cities and regions increasingly look to combine forces. 

“More and more of that’s happening across the network, so his insights and experience around that will help to provide some coaching and insights to those chambers and boards of trade that are also going through similar exercises,” she said.

In addition to bringing Faris on board, the chamber also announced that its chief economist, Dr. Trevin Stratton, has been promoted to chief economist and senior vice-president of policy and advocacy.

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