Executive Team

 

VIA Rail’s executive team is comprised of individuals who demonstrate integrity, diligence, and know-how. Through their leadership and expertise, they help VIA Rail achieve its vision of being a smarter way to move people.

 

Mario Péloquin

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

Mario Péloquin was appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail in June 2023 and brings over 35 years of experience in the railway industry to his new role. His career trajectory started as an operator and then a rail traffic controller before he rose to hold senior roles focused on rail safety at Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board. Mr. Péloquin then transitioned into executive positions with global leaders such as Siemens Mobility, Aecom, Thales Canada, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, leading significant and transformative transportation projects.

Before joining VIA Rail, he held the position of Executive Vice President, Major Projects for the Paris-based Keolis Group. Mr. Péloquin believes profoundly that effective public transit is the key to solving many societal issues. His extensive experience and commitment to safety, operational efficiency, and innovative technology position him well to lead VIA Rail into a new era of innovation and operational excellence.

Mr. Péloquin holds an MBA from the Université du Québec à Montréal. He has also served on the boards of the Canadian Consortium for Urban Transportation Research and Innovation (CUTRIC), the Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers (CARS), the Toronto Railway Club, and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA).

 

Rita Toporowski

Chief Service Delivery Officer

 

Ms. Toporowski joined VIA Rail in November 2014, first as General Manager for Central Canada and then as Vice-President, Customer Experience, and Chief Customer Officer. In 2023 she was named Chief Service Delivery Officer where her focus is on providing overall direction and strategic leadership to all customer-focused teams, as well as VIA Rail’s Railway Operations, Mechanical Services, Health and Safety, and Fixed Assets Teams. In this capacity, she oversees all activities related to the customers' journey from booking to destination, including their experience on board our trains and in our stations.

Prior to joining VIA Rail, Ms. Toporowski was Vice-President, Corporate Planning and Development, at Second Cup where she was responsible for leading the Strategic Planning process; cross-functional process improvement; procurement and supply chain; and the development and negotiation of new product channels. She also spent 16 years at Air Canada where she held various senior positions, including President of Air Canada Vacations and Senior Director Six Sigma.

Ms. Toporowski holds an MBA from Concordia University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from McGill University.

 

Brigitte Dagnault

Chief Communications and Marketing Officer

 

Ms. Dagnault joined VIA Rail in 2023 as Chief Communications and Marketing Officer. She is responsible for establishing VIA Rail's strategic positioning in the market and leading the development of strategies in marketing, communications, government relations and with Indigenous communities. She is also responsible for the company's accessibility efforts.

Previously, Ms. Dagnault held the position of Assistant Vice-President, Strategy and Visibility Quebec at Sun Life. She was responsible for implementing the company's business strategy in the Quebec market, as well as raising its profile. Ms. Dagnault was instrumental in the evolution of the Sun Life brand on a national scale when she was Assistant Vice-President, Marketing for Canada. She also worked at GE Capital and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Ms. Dagnault holds two bachelor's degrees from the Université du Québec à Montréal, in communications and public relations.

 

Mathieu Paquette

Chief Human Resources Officer

 

Mr. Paquette joined VIA Rail in March 2023. As the Chief Human Resources Officer, he is responsible for protecting all labour relations including the employer brand, employee attraction, retention, engagement, and ensuring that employees have a positive experience while working at VIA Rail.

Prior to joining VIA Rail, Mr. Paquette was the head of human resources responsible for North America at Orica, one of the world’s leading mining and infrastructure solutions providers. He possesses a wide range of experience in human resources with skills such as implementing policies, labour relations, strategic planning, and organizational development.

Mr. Paquette has a bachelor's degree in education from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He has completed the MBS program in leadership, at the Melbourne Business School and he is a member of the l’Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA).

 

Michael Acosta

Chief Commercial Officer

 

Mr. Acosta was appointed Chief Commercial Officer in August 2023. He joined VIA Rail in 2009 to oversee Revenue Management and in 2014 the mandate expanded to develop network planning as Mr. Acosta was promoted to Director of Commercial Planning. He was then promoted to Senior Director in 2016, and Vice-President, Commercial in 2022.

During his tenure, Mr. Acosta developed the team whose purpose was to optimize VIA’s network and schedule, resulting in robust revenue and passenger growth. He has also been a speaker and panelist at several international rail conferences, sharing his insights and best practices on network optimization and revenue management. Mr. Acosta is focusing his efforts on the evolution of passenger rail in Canada through better network planning, scheduling, revenue optimization and excellence in customer journey planning. He believes that train travel should be a relevant, sustainable and convenient mode of transportation and a unique and memorable experience for passengers.

Prior to joining VIA Rail, Mr. Acosta worked for Sabre, a leading technology provider for the travel industry, and Air Canada, the national carrier and largest airline in Canada, where he gained valuable experience in business processes assessment and organizational planning.

 

Carl Delisle, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

 

Mr. Carl Delisle, CPA, was appointed Chief Financial Officer of VIA Rail in 2024. In this capacity, he is overseeing various aspects of VIA's financial administration, budgets and controls, corporate purchasing and the management of investments in our pension funds.

Mr. Delisle is a recognized leader with more than 25 years of financial experience in public and private, national and international organizations. He is an accomplished manager with a long track record of creating value by leading organizational transformations and implementing efficient financial structures in high-profile companies such as Canam, Rona, Transat, PwC, or Logistec, where he previously held the position of Chief Financial Officer. He is known for his open-mindedness, critical thinking, negotiating skills, and power to influence.

Mr. Delisle holds the CPA and CA designations, as well as a bachelor's degree in business administration from the École des hautes études commerciales (HEC Montréal).

 

Vanessa Cherenfant

Chief Strategy Officer

 

Ms. Cherenfant joined VIA Rail in December 2023 as Chief Strategy Officer. In her role, she oversees the Corporate Strategy, Enterprise Risk Management, Sustainability, Real Estate and Continuous Improvement teams to ensure the realization of VIA's strategic plan and to support the organization's long-term financial health, growth, and success.

Ms. Cherenfant is an impact leader, recognized for her ability to mobilize multidisciplinary teams and bring innovative projects to fruition. An engineer by training and an intrapreneur, she has proven experience in business strategy, product development, and operational performance optimization. Before joining VIA Rail, she spearheaded operational excellence projects for renowned companies such as Bombardier and Créatech/Bell, and held the position of Vice-President, Business Lead at Cossette/PlusCompany.

A graduate in industrial engineering from Polytechnique Montréal, Ms. Cherenfant sits on the board of Télé-Québec, an organization of the government of Quebec and is a member of the investment committee at Fondaction, a sustainable finance leader with over $3B in assets focusing on investments that generate positive economic, social, and environmental impacts in addition to financial returns.