John Weekes, an expert in international trade policy and trade agreements, joined Bennett Jones in 2010.
From 1971 until 1999 John worked in the Canadian government on the development of trade policy, participating in negotiations and working to ensure their successful implementation. During these years he assisted ministers in successive governments advising on the formulation of the government's approach to managing trade relations and on the negotiation of trade agreements.
He represented Canada in trade negotiations and at various international trade meetings. He was Canada’s ambassador to the WTO from 1995 to 1999. From 1991 to 1994 he served as Canada’s chief negotiator for NAFTA. He was ambassador to GATT during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. In the 1970s, he participated in the Tokyo Round of GATT negotiations.
As NAFTA chief negotiator, John played a key role in managing the negotiating process inside the Canadian government including in determining the best way to structure Canada's negotiating effort and the composition and organization of the negotiating team. After the implementation of NAFTA and the creation of the WTO he played a lead role in advising on how to restructure the trade policy functions inside Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to take account of the changed landscape of trade agreements.
In 1999 he left the Canadian government but remained in Geneva to join APCO Worldwide (a Washington-based international public affairs consultancy). In 2003 he joined the American law firm Sidley Austin. He returned from Geneva to Canada in 2009.
He is an active participant in the work of the London based Legatum Institute's Special Trade Commission dealing with Brexit related issues, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law in Geneva, and the Washington-based Cordell Hull Institute. He is also a member of the Canadian National Committee on Pacific Economic Cooperation and a fellow of the Canadian Global affairs Institute.