These CPAs made their mark both at home and around the world
Now in its second year, the Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame honours Founders and Leaders of the Profession (Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt)
The 2022 class of inductees to the Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame (CAHF) includes a distinguished list of 11 inductees from across Canada. They include three Founders of the Profession: Ellen Fairclough, James Macdonell and Francis Winspear; and eight Leaders of the Profession: Paul Cherry, Sheila Fraser, Michael Gibbins, Richard Haskayne, Louis Ménard, Patricia O’Malley, Gordon Richardson and Guylaine Saucier.
Inaugurated in 2021, the CAHF was created by the Canadian Academic Accounting Association (CAAA) to celebrate individuals who have made very significant contributions to the profession in Canada and around the world. The CAHF honours today’s accounting titans with its Leaders of the Profession category, while also providing an invaluable history of accounting and the profession’s crucial role in the development of Canadian society through the influential individuals selected as Founders of the Profession.
Last year’s inaugural class of 12 inductees included the likes of Philip S. Ross, who helped found North America’s first accounting body in Montreal in 1880, and Gertrude Mulcahy, the first female chartered accountant to be recognized as an FCA in Ontario. “The 2022 CAHF inductees have also contributed greatly to the stature of the accounting profession,” says Alister Mason, FCPA, the CAHF director who oversees the nomination and selection of inductees along with deputy director Anne Fortin and a board of electors. “This year’s three founders made invaluable contributions to the profession's profile; the leaders distinguished themselves with their work on the profession's national and international accounting standards, its terminology, its education, its ethics and–last, but by no means least—its profile in the boardroom.”
Beyond her achievements as Canada’s first female federal cabinet minister and acting prime minister, 2022 Founder Ellen Fairclough was also a trailblazer in the accounting world: in the 1930s, she was one of the first Canadian women to obtain a professional accounting designation and start her own accounting firm. “Sadly, there were very few female chartered accountants prior to the late 1960s and even fewer who have knowledge of them,” says retired FCPA, FCA Rod Barr, formerly of Deloitte and CPA Ontario, who nominated the Hamilton, Ont.-born Fairclough. “But Ellen wasn’t concerned with the challenges of being a pioneer, she was committed to helping others in the political arena using the skills she honed as an accountant.”
Founder James Macdonell, who grew up in Ottawa, was a trailblazer in his own right, completely revolutionizing federal government accounting practices during his seven-year tenure as Auditor General of Canada during the 1970s. “Jim’s charisma, enthusiasm and remarkable capacity for persuasion regularly helped him accomplish what many felt was impossible,” says Ross Walker, FCPA and retired chair and CEO of KPMG Canada, who nominated Macdonell, a former colleague. “The lesson I always carried with me from working with Jim was that any worthwhile endeavour can be accomplished with hard work and determination.”
This year’s third Founder, Francis Winspear, was a pillar of the Edmonton accounting community, inspiring generations of future accountants, including Michael Gibbins, FCPA, who nominated Winspear. “His message to us all was to be dedicated about the things that matter to us, especially the needs in our communities, and to put our heads and our energies to work in making such things happen,” says Gibbins.
Gibbins took Winspear’s message to heart as an influential accounting professor at the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta, where he held the Winspear Foundation Distinguished Chair in Professional Accounting for 21 years. Gibbins’ personal accomplishments were also recognized in 2022 through his selection as one of the CAHF’s eight Leaders of the Profession. “Over my career, I've tried to strengthen connections between academia and practice,” he says. “Seeing students go on to careers surpassing anything I accomplished has always made me feel proud.”
Fellow long-time professor and Leader, Louis Ménard, FCPA, is a legend in Quebec, particularly for his 30-plus years as principal author of the Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière (Accounting and Financial Management Dictionary), which has been more commonly known as “Le Ménard.”
Leader Gordon Richardson, FCPA, studied accounting in his hometown of Toronto before going on to supervise more than 30 PhD accounting students at universities throughout Canada, from UBC to the University of Waterloo. Richardson is best known for his research studies involving corporate social responsibility reporting by firms. “If there’s one key takeaway from my work, it’s that it does pay to be green and that firms can reap the valuation benefits of proactive environmental strategies,” he says.
Beyond the world of academia, this year’s Leaders are pivotal voices in every accounting arena, from public to private, and from standard-setting to audit. “In typical Canadian fashion, we can be a bit reticent to tout our accomplishments and our unsung accounting heroes—yes, I do have accounting heroes—and being part of the institutional memory created by the CAHF is truly humbling,” says New Brunswick native and Leader Paul Cherry, FCPA, who was the first Chief Accountant of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). In addition, Cherry served on several standard-setting bodies, including the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC).
Similarly, Quebec-born Leader Sheila Fraser, FCPA, had a long career in standard-setting in the public sector and as trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation. “I’m honoured to have also served as the [first female] Auditor General of Canada, from 2001 to 2011, and it’s incredible to now also be honoured by being inducted into the CAHF with such an illustrious group,” she says.
Alberta’s Richard Haskayne was chosen as a CAHF Leader in recognition of a successful career as CEO and president of several oil and gas companies, during which he also advanced ethical standards throughout the industry. “Today, I can look back on leading companies, such as TC Energy and Enbridge, and be proud that I had a hand in their rise to the top,” says Haskayne. “As well, throughout my life, I have participated in the teaching and mentorship of those who would follow in my footsteps and I am as proud of those individuals—many of whom also have CPA credentials, as I am proud of my own career path.”
Hailing from northwestern Quebec, corporate governance expert and Leader Guylaine Saucier, FCPA, has served as a director on 18 boards, including the board of the Bank of Canada. “I have been a full-time board member for the last 30 years or so and an audit committee member or chair for all that time. As such, I hope that I contributed to the quality of the financial information given to the market.”)” she says. “To be honoured by one’s peers is always special because it underlines your contribution to the profession by people who are knowledgeable about it.”)
The eighth and final CAHF Leader, Winnipeg’s Patricia O’Malley, FCPA, was president of the CAAA in the 1990s during her successful tenure at KPMG, before becoming the first full-time chair of the Canadian Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) in 1999. Two years later, she helped found the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the body responsible for issuing IFRS. “Being part of Canada’s transition to IFRS was incredibly rewarding,” she says. “It was a win/win/win outcome for Canadian companies whose financial statements are accepted internationally, for international standards that are significantly enhanced by Canada’s contributions to their development and for capital markets generally by improved, comparable financial reporting.”
“As can easily be seen through all these incredible accomplishments, the current and future members of the profession are blessed in being able to stand on the inductees' very broad shoulders,” says CAHF director Alister Mason. Nominations for the 2023 inductees into the CAHF are being accepted until November 11, 2022. Additional information on the CAHF and its inductees can be found on the CAHF website.
Read our Q&A with Louis Ménard to learn more about his contribution to the Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière (Accounting and Financial Management Dictionary).