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2018 Amethyst Award Winner for Individual Excellence in Public Service

Deborah was one of four people, out of approximately 60,000 Ontario public servants, who received an Amethyst Award for Individual Service Excellence. The Amethyst is the most prestigious award in the OPS, presented by the Secretary of Cabinet. 

Deborah Smith-Webber

With more than 20 years' experience as a technology, media and telecommunications (TMT)-focused lawyer and policy professional in the private and public sector, and a graduate legal education in Internet content policy and regulation, Deborah brings a demonstrated ability to assess policy problems from multiple perspectives, to think big and outside-the-box, and to craft creative yet practical solutions that obtain buy-in from decision-makers. This capacity is coupled with expert knowledge of public policy, public administration, and legislative/regulatory processes and procedural issues at the international, national, and sub-national levels. 

Before joining Hall Webber LLP, Deborah was Senior Specialist for culture policy at the Ontario government, where she brought her strong passion for the TMT industries and breadth of experience in leading strategy and policy development on a federal-facing, high-priority legislative and regulatory portfolio that included: national digital economy strategy; free trade agreement (re)negotiations; CRTC broadcasting proceedings; copyright reform; and Canadian culture policy toolkit modernization.

These cross-cutting initiatives required extensive engagement and collaboration with Ontario, federal, and provincial/territorial government partners, industry players, and NGOs, as well as coordination with broader Ontario government strategic priorities. Deborah earned high praise from Assistant Deputy Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and Ministers for her clear and thorough briefings. Her exemplary performance was recognized by both the Ontario Public Service (OPS) and stakeholders. Most recently, in September 2018, she received an Amethyst Award, the OPS’ highest honour, for Individual Service Excellence.   

Prior to her work at the Ontario government, Deborah was Director of Legal and Business Affairs for a prominent Canadian independent screen-based production and distribution company and a student-at-law focused on intellectual property, information technology, and related litigation at top-tier Bay Street law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.  
Deborah is trusted and respected for her integrity, professionalism, dedication, and rare capacity to “see around corners.” She is noted for her political acuity and ability to unpack complex issues and provide concise, timely, and persuasive analysis of rapidly evolving developments (industry, policy, legal, and political). She excels at effectively communicating advice and recommendations to diverse audiences, dealing with competing priorities in fast-paced high-stress environments through strong project management skills, and working cooperatively and diplomatically. 


  • PhD (ABD*) in Law and LLM in Internet content policy and regulation, Osgoode Hall Law School (1998-2011)  *All But Defended (coursework completed with academic standing “A”, complete draft dissertation submitted)

  • LLB, Osgoode Hall Law School (1996)

  • BA (Dist.) in Political Science, York University (1993)

  • Harley D. Hallett Graduate Scholarship (1999, 1998) 

  • Jaqueline Greatbatch Memorial Fellowship (1998)

  • Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Prize in Constitutional Law (1995) 

  • Brendan O’Brien Entrance Scholarship – Osgoode Award of Excellence (1994)



  • Member, Law Society of Ontario (1998-present)

  • Amethyst Award for Individual Excellence in Public Service, Ontario government wide (2018)

  • Nominated for Ministry-wide awards in Leadership (2014) and Innovation (2013) for fostering unprecedented level of federal engagement on critical communications and creative industry issues



  • Co-author, Media Taxonomy - Back to the Basics, Canadian Film & Television Business & Legal Practice, Canada Law Book, 2013.

  • Research Fellow, Report: Universality at the Crossroads, 2001 (collaborative academic study with Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) 



  • Moderator, Digital Content, Digital Border Conference, Canada-US Law Institute (CUSLI), Case Western Reserve University (2015)

  • Moderator and panelist, WIFT-T Convergent Media Program (2008)

  • Guest lecturer, The Net Governance Debate: Cyber-Anarchism, Digital Libertarianism, Techno-Realism and Neo-Ludditism, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa (2000)

  • Speaker, Discourses of Cyberdemocracy and Free (Net) Speech, Laws’ Colonies: Legal Spaces and the Geographies of Power Graduate Law Students’ Conference (1999)

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