Glenn O’Farrell (1958-)

Glenn O'Farrell

Year Born: 1958

O’Farrell, Glenn (1958- )

Born in St-Malachie, Quebec on July 29th 1958, Glenn O’Farrell completed his studies in economics and law at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and the University of Laval in Québec, and was called to the Bar in 1983. Fluently bilingual, he was by this time living in Quebec City, and for four years was in private practice, latterly with Cartier LePage O’Brien O’Farrell.

A major client of the firm was the Réseau Pathonic, a Québec-based regional television network consisting of TVA affiliate stations outside of Montreal, and in 1987 he left the law firm to join them as their Vice-President of  Legal Affairs. For three years his job had him commuting between Quebec City and Montreal.

In 1990 he moved to Toronto to join Global Television (later CanWest Global), for whom he served as General Counsel for three years. In 1993 he became Vice-President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs for CanWest, a responsibility that involved frequent appearances before the CRTC. In 1996 he became President, Global Quebec through developing the regulatory architecture and business deals that led the company’s expansion into the Province of Québec. Later he was given the additional responsibility of developing and launching six new digital specialty services in English and in French, as Senior Vice-President, Specialty Services for CanWest.

In January 2002, Glenn O’Farrell succeeded Michael McCabe as President of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Here he did an admirable job of representing the interests of his membership before various administrative tribunals and regulatory authorities, including public processes leading to new regulatory frameworks for both commercial radio and specialty services, in addition to numerous CRTC proceedings dealing with conventional television.

During Glenn’s tenure at the CAB, the industry association also conducted a comprehensive mandate and governance review process to seek new ways and means to adapt the organization to the changing configuration of the broadcasting landscape and market place.

However as the decade progressed, industry consolidation, including increasing cross-ownership of programming services and cable operators, made it more and more difficult for the CAB to develop and maintain consensual positions on important policy issues affecting the industry. Against this background, Glenn resigned from the CAB at the end of January 2009. (The CAB announced it was folding in June 2010, but by the end of November had re-emerged in a reconstituted form).

On leaving the CAB, Glenn formed his own consulting firm, gpocorp, a boutique holding company and strategic business consultancy services provider to media sector companies. 

On September 23, 2010, Glenn became President and CEO of TFO Media Group, an independent Ontario French-language public educational and cultural content producer and distributor. TFO was originally owned and operated by TV Ontario, but in 2007 it became an independent agency. In 2018, Glenn became a member of the Governor’s Council of the Université de l’Ontario français, and in 2019 he was appointed by Ontario’s Minister of Francophone Affairs and Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, as the government’s pro bono advisor on Francophone economic development.

On November 27th 2020, Glenn was apppointed as a Member of the Order of Canada,  “for his vision for education and for his leadership in communications, having positioned a media outlet as a global symbol of French language and culture”.

During his career, Glenn sat on numerous boards of directors, including the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l’Université Laval à Québec, Jeffery Hale, the Théâtre du Bois-de-Coulonge in Québec, the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal,  Ashbury College in Ottawa, TV5 and Canal Savoir.

Written by Pip Wedge – December, 2010