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Canadian Chamber of Commerce names Candace Laing new president and CEO

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has named Candace Laing its new president and CEO, effective Sept. 1.
Candace Laing, incoming CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Chamber of Commerce **MANDATORY CREDIT**

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has named Candace Laing its new president and CEO, effective Sept. 1.

Laing has served as chair of the chamber's board of directors since 2022 after joining the board in 2019, serving as its vice-chair from 2021 to 2022. The chamber said she has resigned from that role as she prepares to take on her new job, which will be based in Ottawa.

She succeeds Perrin Beatty, who will end his 17-year run at the helm on Aug. 30.

"My vision is so closely connected to what the vision of the organization is and that's that thriving business and a strong economy leads to a better life for all Canadians," Laing said in an interview.

She said red tape and supply chain obstacles are among the challenges facing Canadian businesses that she hopes to tackle, noting, "We can reduce that burden instead of piling on to it."

Laing said she also feels it should be more "attractive" for people to start new businesses in Canada or move existing ones there.

"We need a stable regulatory environment in order for that to happen," she said.

Born in Saskatchewan, Laing spent 10 years at Nutrien Ltd. and its predecessor company, PotashCorp., serving as senior vice-president and chief human resources officer, and as vice-president of sustainability and stakeholder relations.

The chamber said she was a key member of the integration team that merged PotashCorp. and Agrium Inc. in 2018 to form Nutrien.

Penny Wise, chair of the chamber's CEO search committee and vice-chair of its board of directors, said there was an "extensive search that drew a wide range of candidates with impressive experience in government and business."

"We are grateful to all of them for their interest. What set Candace apart was her experience in both business and the chamber movement and her vision for the Canadian chamber’s future as a champion for Canadian businesses," she said in a statement.

“She has extensive experience making decisions across complex organizations, which will help us build on our existing strengths and meet the challenges facing Canadian businesses and families. She is exceptionally well-equipped to partner with a broad range of stakeholders, including chambers, boards of trade, associations, and government."

Beatty said Laing "understands the needs of businesses of all sizes."

"There’s nobody who’s better qualified to take the Canadian chamber to the next level," he said in a news release.

The chamber's board is considering next steps to fill the chair's role until the election of a new chair at its annual general meeting in October.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press