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John Hannaford

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

John Hannaford was named the 25th Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on June 24, 2023.


Prior to becoming Clerk, John served as Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada, from 2022 to 2023, where he helped advance some of the government’s signature clean energy initiatives. He contributed to the public service for the preceding two decades representing the Canadian government on key international files, from free trade to foreign and defence policy.


After graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in history, he earned a Master of Science in international relations at the London School of Economics, before completing a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Toronto.


John joined the federal public service’s Department of Foreign Affairs as a newly minted lawyer in 1995, working on a range of issues including maritime jurisdictions, environmental law and trade. His following career included being Deputy Minister of International Trade at Global Affairs Canada from 2019–2022, after having served in several high-profile senior leadership positions in the public service, including:

  • Foreign and Defence Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister (2015–2019);

  • Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet of Foreign and Defence Policy in the Privy Council Office (2012–2015); and

  • Ambassador of Canada to Norway (2009–2012).


John’s first act as Clerk was to launch a broad discussion on public service values and ethics to ensure the civil service is equipped to serve Canadians’ changing needs in today’s dynamic and increasingly complex environment.

He believes the values of the public service are the cornerstone of our democracy and the compass to ensure “the peace, order and good government” it provides remain relevant and real to every Canadian, every day. He is married to Anne Lawson. Together they have two adult children.



John Hannaford
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