|Canadian Ambassador to Italy|
|Preceded by||Robert Fowler|
|Succeeded by||James Fox|
|Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet|
May 13, 2002 – March 5, 2006
|Prime Minister||Jean Chrétien|
|Preceded by||Mel Cappe|
|Succeeded by||Kevin Lynch|
|Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage|
June 1, 1999 – May 12, 2002
|Preceded by||Suzanne Hurtubise|
|Succeeded by||Judith A. LaRocque|
|Born||July 3, 1947|
|Alma mater||University of Toronto|
He was a professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick from 1972 to 1981. He authored two introductory textbooks on sociology with co-author C. James Richardson that were used extensively in Canadian universities in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These were:
- People, Power and Process (and a reader)
- Sociology for Canadians (two editions, and a reader)
He has published numerous monographs, chapters and articles on Canadian society and public policy and co-edited with his son Jordan the book Tax is Not a Four-Letter Word.
He started with the Canadian public service in 1981 joining the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada and served in senior positions in various departments and agencies including the Parole Board, Justice, Citizenship and Immigration, the Privy Council Office, and Treasury Board, and led the Task Force on the Social Union. In 1999, he became Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage. In 2002 he was appointed to the dual role of Clerk of the Privy Council (Canada) and Secretary to the Cabinet.
On June 14, 2006, he was appointed Ambassador to Italy, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Albania and the Republic of San Marino, and as High Commissioner in the Republic of Malta, and as Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, in Rome. He retired as ambassador in 2009.
In 2000, he was awarded The Outstanding Achievement Award, considered to be the most prestigious award in the Canadian public service. In 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Fellow from the Royal Conservatory of Music and an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Memorial University in Newfoundland.
In September 2009, Himelfarb was appointed as Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, at York University, retiring from that position in 2014 and made Director Emeritus.
He is the founding Chair of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness with Tim Richter as Vice-Chair and Stephen Gaetz is secretary. The York-University based Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness based on the highly successful American model originated in 2000, also focusses on 10-year Plans to End Homelessness and Housing First approaches. He retired from this position in 2018.
Himelfarb was chair of the World Wildlife Fund Canada and of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Ontario Advisory Board. He now chairs the Narwhal Board and the Steering Committee of CCPA (federal). He is also on the Advisory Committee to the Auditor General and serves on the Boards of several other non-governmental organizations including the Atkinson Foundation.
- Canadian Who's Who Search. Grey House Publishing Canada.
- "About CAEH". Toronto, Ontario. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-02-20. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- "Alex Himelfarb – Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet". Privy Council Office. Retrieved 21 March 2005.
| Canadian Ambassador to Albania
| Canadian Ambassador to Italy
| Canadian High Commissioner to Malta