Oliver Highlights Retail in Naming Advisory Council

Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s economic advisory council, unveiled today, increases the presence of retail executives amid the government’s increasing focus on consumer themes.

Oliver named Bonnie Brooks, vice-chairwoman at Hudson’s Bay Co. and Dani Reiss, chief executive of Canada Goose Inc., to the council, according to a statement from the Finance Department in Ottawa. Monique Leroux, chief executive of Desjardins Group, and Rebecca MacDonald, chairwoman of natural gas marketing company Just Energy Group were among the eight additions to the council.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has turned more of his government’s attention to consumer issues such as cell-phone charges and banking fees ahead of the 2015 election. The February budget included plans to eliminate higher prices for products in Canada relative to the U.S. if the difference isn’t justified by costs.

The council will also advise Oliver on how to use more than C$40 billion in projected surpluses. The late former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s Feb. 11 budget predicted a deficit of C$2.9 billion for the fiscal year that started April 1, the seventh straight shortfall, before a surplus next year.

“I look forward to working with the council members and hearing their ideas as we move toward a new era of fiscal sustainability and prosperity for our country,” Oliver said in today’s statement.

Flaherty established the council in 2008 during the previous recession. Oliver’s 16-member group is three larger than Flaherty’s most recent council and retains Paul Desmarais Jr., co-chief executive of Power Corp. of Canada, Teck Resources Ltd. CEO Don Lindsay and Nancy Southern, chief executive of Calgary-based Atco Ltd.

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