Robert Fonberg

Over his fruitful career with the Canadian public service, he developed extensive experience in public policy in the areas of defence and international relations.

In May of 2013, after thirteen years in the deputy minister community, Robert Fonberg became special advisor to the clerk of the Privy Council, where he was asked to write a paper on the challenges facing policy development in the 21st century.  Mr. Fonberg retired from Canada’s public service in October 2013. 

Robert Fonberg was appointed deputy minister of national defense in October 2007, a position he held until 2013. In this capacity, he provided advice and guidance on defense policy and international defense relations to the minister of national defense and was accountable for the sound administration and financial management of the $20 billion annual appropriation. In conjunction with the chief of defense staff, Fonberg led an integrated defense team with an international presence and a significant economic footprint across Canada. He was involved across the full range of  high-profile security and defense files, including Afghanistan, Libya, Haiti, and the Vancouver Olympics.  He was a core member of the government's security intelligence community and he oversaw the military’s multi-billion-dollar procurement program.

Prior to his appointment to the Department of National Defense, Robert Fonberg was senior associate secretary to the Treasury Board (2006-2007), deputy minister of international trade (2004-2006), and a member of the board of Export Development Canada. He served as deputy secretary to the Cabinet (Operations) and deputy secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations) at the Privy Council Office from 2000 to 2004. In the 1990s, Mr. Fonberg spent time in the private sector as senior vice-president of corporate planning and systems and technology at the Business Development Bank of Canada. From 1995 to 1997, he was a principal in the public sector transformation practice of the consulting firm Ernst and Young.  

Mr. Fonberg chaired the 2010 Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign, an initiative implemented to give public service workers an opportunity to celebrate caring and team spirit across the entire federal public service and to encourage the involvement of future leaders, who joined the public service because they wanted to make a real difference.  Mr. Fonberg remains a member of the Board of Directors. 

Mr. Fonberg holds a bachelor of arts in economics (honors) from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree from Queens University, also in economics. He is currently an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and a fellow with Global Solution Networks. He continues to give seminars and lectures on policy and leadership at various institutions, and to advise the private sector.