Lawyer, public relations expert, and arts supporter Mélanie Joly has been appointed the new Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.
Until her candidacy for mayor of Montreal in November, 2013, Joly was little known to the general public, but after running an innovative campaign she won 26.5% of the vote, placing second. Electoral success came in the October federal election, when she won her riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville with 46.6 % of the votes cast.
In the arts community, Joly is already well known. In 2006, Joly became a volunteer for the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC), Canada’s first institution dedicated exclusively to contemporary art. Responding to the museum's need to grow its membership, Joly created a committee, Les Printemps du MAC, to reach young, urban, connected Montrealers. The committee, composed of young professionals from diverse industries, organizes a benefit each spring with proceeds going to the museum's foundation and supporting the next generation of artists.
In 2010, Business for the Arts awarded Joly with the Arnold Edinborough Award which recognizes a young business professional under 40 for their volunteerism in the arts.
Joly is heavily involved in the philanthropic sector and has served on numerous boards and committees, including the boards of Business for the Arts, CHUM Foundation, Laval Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Bach Festival, and Quebec Pension Plan. She was a member of the national organizing committee for the Governor General Award of Performing Arts, and is a founding member of the committee for Young Canadians in Finance (Business women’s division).
Along with colleagues, Joly founded Generation of Ideas, a political forum for 25 to 35 year olds. She is also a member of the collective group Sortie 13, a group of leaders of generations X and Y intended to provide solutions to counter inertia and cynicism in Quebec.
From 2009 to 2013 Joly worked as managing partner of the Montreal office of international communications agency Cohn & Wolfe. She practiced for several years prior at two major Canadian law firms, Stikeman Elliot LLP and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, and was an articling journalist with Radio-Canada.
She recently published a political essay entitled “Changer les règles du jeu” ("Changing the rules of the game"), which appeals to reform our politics to make it better suited to address important challenges of our time: climate change, the digital revolution, and growing inequalities.
Joly is a member of the Quebec Bar, holds a law degree (Honours) from the University of Montreal and a Masters in European and Comparative Law at the University of Oxford.