Michael Barfoot

Employee Profile: Michael Barfoot
Director, Regulatory Affairs

As the youngest of three kids growing up on the family farm in Chesley, Ontario, Michael Barfoot used to love going to Air Cadet meetings in nearby Hanover.

He learned winter camping skills and made friends. But he particularly liked the drills. That appreciation for precision would serve him well throughout a career that began in quality assurance and led him into regulatory affairs.

Michael got his professional start in aviation, another highly regulated transport industry focused on safety and economics.

After studies in aviation management, Michael worked first at Canada’s largest airport authority, then its largest air carrier – an 11-year run that saw him rise to general manager in charge of regulatory compliance.

He says: “My passion for regs is in seeing how those rules can be or ought to be interpreted, and what conversations can be had to make productive, constructive contributions to make the rules better for everyone.”

In April 2021, he brought that passion to bear for members of the Railway Association of Canada.

“There are specific technical and operational differences which I’m learning, but also a lot of commonalities in working with the regulators,” he says. “(The RAC)’s a small, close-knit team of good, competent, supportive professionals.”

Changing careers in the middle of a global pandemic is not without networking challenges, but COVID closures have brought his tight-knit family of four even closer. (Michael and his wife Nicole have two kids: Taylor, 8, and Jack, 5.)

That said, the couple is looking forward to resuming hiking-and-foodie trips when the pandemic is over. (Their last trip was to Sedona, and they’re eyeing an escape to Utah’s Zion National Park when travel restrictions permit.)

Michael is also looking forward to fishing trips, his softball league, and playing guitar in a band of friends who ‘gig’ in garages, backyards, and basements around their neighbourhood in Caledon, Ontario.

But he stresses there’s no rush to return to the business of pre-COVID ‘normality.’ There’s professional learning to be done.

Find out more about other RAC Staff Members.