Mr. Desmarais is Executive Co-Chairman of Power Financial and Deputy Chairman, President, and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation. Prior to joining Power Corporation in 1983, he was Special Assistant to the Minister of Justice of Canada and an institutional investment counsellor at Richardson Greenshields Securities Ltd.
He is a director of many Power Financial group companies in North America, including Great-West Lifeco, Great-West Life, Great-West Life & Annuity, London Life, Canada Life Financial, Canada Life, Putnam Investments, IGM Financial, Investors Group, and Mackenzie. He is also a director of Power Corporation. He is director and Vice-Chairman of Pargesa in Europe.
Over the years, cultural, health, and other not-for-profit organizations in Montréal have benefitted from his contributions, involvement, and dedication. He has played key roles in a number of fundraising campaigns, including those of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Heart Institute, Leucan, the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Cancer Society, and Centraide of Greater Montreal. He is Chairman of the Fondation Baxter & Alma Ricard, a member of the Chairman’s International Advisory Council of the Americas Society, Honorary Chairman of the Canada China Business Council, and a member of several China-based organizations.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Concordia University and received honorary doctorates from Concordia University, Université de Montréal and McGill University. In 2003, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and, in 2009, an Officer of the National Order of Québec.