In Memoriam: Pierre Bocti and Alan Wheable
TEI mourns the passing of two long-time Canadian members, Pierre Bocti and Alan E. Wheable.

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TEI mourns the passing of two long-time Canadian members, Pierre Bocti and Alan E. Wheable.

Pierre Bocti

Pierre Bocti passed away on January 14. Pierre was a member of TEI for over forty years. During that time, he was very active in TEI, rising to serve as the 1996–1997 president of the Toronto Chapter. He was an active member of the Canadian Commodity Tax Committee for more than twenty years, serving as the committee’s chair from 1994 through 1997. Pierre held many other positions at TEI, including being an active member of the Canadian Income Tax Committee for more than twenty years, serving as the Institute’s 1997–1998 Toronto Chapter representative, serving as Region 1’s (Canada) vice president and on TEI’s Executive Committee in 1998–1999, and serving terms as a member of the US International Tax Committee, EDP Committee, and Communications Committee. In 1997, Pierre represented TEI before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, urging adoption of the Harmonized Sales Tax in the Maritime Provinces. He was also persuasive in his public support of Revenue Canada’s transparency initiatives in the 1990s, which reflected well on TEI.

Pierre contributed substantially to the Institute’s educational mission, serving frequently as a member or moderator at the Annual Canadian Tax Conference. In addition, Pierre organized and chaired the Institute’s Canadian Tax Courses in 1995, 2006, and 2012.

Pierre was recognized for his tax career contributions and accomplishments in 2013 as the proud recipient of the TEI President’s Award.

Without question, Pierre’s greatest strength was his ability to network effectively, especially at the political and senior government official level. As president of the Toronto Chapter, he was able to engage Jean Chrétien, then prime minister of Canada, in a personal conversation regarding tax harmonization. Pierre was a long-time resident of Markham, Ontario, and is a former president of the Markham Unionville Liberal riding association. He has been the official agent for John McCallum, a former liberal member of Parliament, and a federal cabinet minister. Needless to say, Pierre was actively immersed in politics.

Pierre retired from his position as vice president of tax at Hewlett-Packard (Canada) in 2013.

Dan Goff, corporate vice president, worldwide tax and customs, at Microsoft, but previously at Hewlett-Packard in the United States, said about Pierre:

Pierre was one of my first direct reports and was a joy to work with, a pleasure to know, and taught me so much about what it meant to be a manager. Pierre was not only a great worker, but also a great person. He always had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone. He was a great friend and a generous mentor. He will be deeply missed by all of us. Pierre had a passion for his work and a vision for the future. He was always eager to learn new things and share his knowledge with others. He was a leader and a team player. He inspired us with his courage and optimism. He left a lasting mark on me, our company, and everyone who knew him. Pierre had a terrific sense of humor and a zest for life. He was a devoted family man and a faithful friend. He was a role model and a hero to everyone who knew him. He touched our hearts and our souls. I will miss Pierre tremendously.

Dan’s comment was echoed by John Allinotte, retired director of corporate tax at Dofasco Inc., who described Pierre “as a great asset to the Canadian tax community and a true friend to me personally.”

Lester Ezrati, retired senior vice president of tax for Hewlett-Packard Co. in Palo Alto, California, and a former TEI international president, described Pierre as:

A stalwart of the Hewlett-Packard tax department for decades. More than an excellent country tax director, he was a leader of the department. A global thinker who added value in any endeavor, Pierre saved HP millions of dollars in taxes while always maintaining the highest standard of uncompromising integrity. A fierce competitor, an excellent colleague and a great friend. He is sorely missed.

The foregoing is a very brief summary of Pierre Bocti, FCPA, FCGA, the tax professional. However, what we will always remember is Pierre Bocti, our friend. Pierre had a gregarious and infectious laugh and could always be counted on for a corny joke or two—and sometimes even more. Pierre was always willing to share job opportunities that came his way with others. Pierre was a role model in bettering himself, and, at the same time, he did not hesitate to mentor other TEI members.

Pierre will be missed by the tax community and by his many friends and colleagues.

Alan Wheable

Alan Wheable passed away on March 8. Alan joined the TEI Toronto Chapter in 1989 and subsequently rose to serve as president of the Toronto Chapter in 2000–2001. Alan also held a series of positions at the Institute level, serving as a member of the Institute’s Canadian Income Tax Committee for many years, including two terms as chair in 1996–1997 and 1997–1998. He also served on the Institute’s board of directors as vice president of Region 1 (Canada) in 2001–2002. In addition, he served on the Nominating Committee in 1997–1998, the Canadian Commodity Tax Committee in 1997–1998, and the US Tax Reform Task Force in 2006–2007. Alan also shared his considerable expertise by speaking at numerous Institute-level conferences and seminars in both Canada and the United States.

These activities all required substantial dedication and commitment to the Institute and its principles and purpose. Although Alan’s service to the Institute was varied and substantial, we would like to focus on some of his significant contributions to the Canadian Income Tax Committee—both its prodigious technical output during his years as a member and as a mentor for subsequent chairs of the committee.

From the outset, Alan took a lead or co-leadership role on an astonishingly broad range of technical topics. From comments on draft legislation on restrictive covenants, foreign affiliate reporting, or nonresident trusts, to the Canada Revenue Agency’s administration of the general anti-avoidance rules, to a fundamental review of the entire Canadian tax system under the Mintz Committee, Alan provided key comments or drafted entire submissions. However, Alan did joke that whenever he bought a new copy of the Income Tax Act, he stapled the section on resource taxation closed. There wasn’t much else in the act (or for that matter the Excise Tax Act or the Internal Revenue Code) that would escape him or his keen intellectual interest in taxation. Indeed, during the development and discussion of the annual liaison meeting agendas with the Canada Revenue Agency and the Department of Finance, Alan served as the committee’s sounding board for the technical merits and persuasiveness of an agenda question. Beyond the Annual Liaison Meetings, he also participated in countless meetings with government officials on behalf of TEI’s advocacy efforts. Al’s efforts earned him the respect not only of the other Canadian Income Tax Committee members, but also of the Department of Finance and Canada Revenue Agency officials.

As an advocate, Alan was relentless. As a mentor and friend, unwavering. As important as Alan’s technical skills were, his legacy lies in his leadership in encouraging members to participate in the Canadian Income Tax Committee and in mentoring subsequent committee chairs. Whether approaching government officials, developing submissions, or recruiting new members, Alan’s advice, counsel, and humor were an invaluable resource for the committee, its chairs, and the Institute.

Alan was recognized for his tax career contributions and accomplishments in 2008 as the proud recipient of TEI’s President’s Award.

Alan retired from the Toronto-Dominion Bank as senior vice president, taxation, in 2007.

Teresa Ma, who reported to Alan, stated:

Alan was a brilliant leader and a genuine human being held in high regard by everyone. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked under his leadership and guided by his wisdom for over twenty years. Alan was a caring boss and a fun person to have at any social function. I will miss him dearly.

Al Meghji, a tax partner and head of the tax controversy practice at the Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP law firm in Toronto, had the following to say about Alan:

My fondest memory of Al was working with him on Canada Trustco, the first GAAR case to be taken up by the Supreme Court. Over the many years we worked together he became a friend. I simply loved working with him—a superb intellect combined with compassion; a playful sense of humor married with a cutting wit. I often spent time with him and some other friends from TEI and he was plainly adored by his friends for his loyalty and friendship. When I look back at my career I immediately think about Al because when I was just a young lawyer, he trusted me with one of the most important tax cases in Canadian history. He took a risk with me when he could have chosen one of the “old guys” and for that I will be grateful. I know he was generous with many others in the same way. Rest in peace my friend; a life well lived and a legacy to remember.

Firoz Ahmed, a tax partner at Osler, added:

I first met Al when I was a fairly young lawyer and he was head of the Canada Trustco tax group. Al was welcoming, friendly, and went out of his way to make me feel part of the team. He was supportive, willing to entertain different ideas, even from someone with less experience, and to advance and defend a (fully vetted by Al) idea to the legal and business groups, even one that was not popular with them. I soon realized Al was brilliant and imaginative. He loved dealing with difficult issues and challenged others to think outside the box. Above all his brainpower, though, Al was a people person. We all loved working with Al, which led to him being respected throughout the tax community and at the highest levels of TD Bank and explains the many friendships Al nurtured long after he retired.

Colleen Johnston, the former CFO at the Toronto-Dominion Bank, to whom Alan reported, said:

Al Wheable reported to me from 2005 to 2007 in my role as CFO of TD. Al was one of a kind. He was a true icon in the tax community—brilliant, outspoken, acerbic, wise, and loyal—with very high integrity. His team adored him. He was honest to a fault. One of my lasting memories was Al telling the TD board that no one in the bank knew anything about tax and hence the external auditors were the only oversight he had. If you knew Al, you are chuckling right now. While Al’s political sensitivities were low, he had a heart of gold. He had a huge impact on everything and everyone he touched. Rest in peace Al—you made a profound difference as a professional, as a leader, and as a human being. You will be missed.

Alan had many outside interests including memberships in the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He enjoyed the theater and attended many productions in Toronto, Stratford, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. He was a basketball fan and looked forward to his annual March Madness trip. He was also very involved in his church. We can still recall one of his fundraising efforts on their behalf where contributors were serenaded by Alan’s attempt to sing.

Al was an avid reader and had an extensive knowledge of any and all subjects and would be only too happy to let you know in the middle of a discussion, with a twinkle in his eye and a big smile, that he had “read both the Constitution of the United States and the Canadian Constitution.He was absolutely brilliant.

We have very fond memories of Alan’s wit and his extensive knowledge shared at both the monthly dim sum luncheons and the Gentlemen’s Respite days at the David Penney cottage. These events will not be the same without Alan. However, both will soldier on in his memory.

Alan was a titan in the Canadian tax community and will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues. May he rest in peace.

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