Hill Life & People

Telford top staffer, Salloum ranked one of best in The Hill Times’ 16th annual Terrific 25 Staffers Survey

Anthony Salloum, lobby officer to the NDP Whip, was voted the Best All-Round Terrific Staffer, Best NDP Staffer, and Most Discreet in this year’s survey.

NDP lobby officer Anthony Salloum, far left, was named the Best All-Round Staffer in this year's Terrific 25 Staffer survey. PMO chief of staff Katie Telford topped the overall Terrific 25 staff list, followed by her colleague, PMO principal secretary Gerald Butts. The Hill Times file photographs

PUBLISHED :Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 12:00 AM

It’s been 20 years since NDP lobby officer Anthony Salloum first walked through Centre Block’s front doors as a rookie staffer, and this year, for the first time, he’s claimed the title of the Best All-Round Terrific Staffer in The Hill Times’ 16th annual Terrific 25 Staffers Survey.

“I really am flabbergasted by this result,” Mr. Salloum told The Hill Times last week. “They’ve really honoured me with this.”

Mr. Salloum came in at No. 1 in the Best All-Round Terrific Staffer category, followed by Conservative MP Lisa Raitt’s (Milton, Ont.) assistant Andrew Brander in second place, and Liberal MP Wayne Easter’s (Malpeque, P.E.I.) legislative assistant, Sarah Thorenton, in third.

This year he also claimed the No. 1 spot for Most Discreet, No. 1 for Best NDP Hill Staffer, and ranked at No. 5 overall on the Terrific 25 Staff list, which is compiled by tallying votes from all of the survey’s categories. Last year, Mr. Salloum ranked No. 18 overall on the list.

  

“As the lobby officer, he is privy to very sensitive information between staff, as well as other MPs. In his job, discretion is a must, and he is widely trusted,” said one NDP respondent who voted for Mr. Salloum as the Most Discreet staffer.

Adam Scotti, official photographer to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.), came second for Most Discreet, followed by Brett Thalmann, director of special projects and administration in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The Hill Times once again partnered with Forum Research to conduct the Terrific 25 Staffers Survey this year, which was held online between Oct. 10 and Dec. 7. Of those who responded, 51.2 per cent identified as Liberal, 24.4 per cent as New Democrat, 19.5 per cent as Conservative, 2.4 per cent as Bloc Québécois, and 2.4 per cent as Independent.

NDP lobby officer Anthony Salloum. The Hill Times file photograph

Mr. Salloum has been lobby officer in the NDP Whip’s Office since 2011, and first began working on the Hill as an assistant to then NDP leader Alexa McDonough in 1997—having become her constituency aide a few years prior.

  

As lobby officer, he’s responsible for deciding caucus House duties, ensuring MPs show up for votes, briefing them and their staff on upcoming House business, and staying on top of whatever pops up in the House on a given day to be ready to react and give directions to MPs in the Chamber.

It’s a job that puts him on the front lines of the NDP’s work on the Hill, and with it, he said he’s found his favoured “niche” of Hill work.

“Part of the reason why I love this job is you have to be able to multi-task, there’s so many pieces to it that are always moving all day long,” he said.

“It’s really a handful of people in this country who do this sort of unique work, and so I never stop feeling privileged about the work that I do, ever.”

  

He has an actual office on Centre Block’s fifth floor, but Mr. Salloum said he only uses it during break weeks, instead spending almost every minute of his time at work during sitting weeks in the opposition lobby—a narrow, arched-ceiling space which all opposition parties share and which flanks the House of Commons Chamber. The government lobby flanks the other side of the House Chamber. Typically starting his days around 9 a.m., he stays at it until the House adjourns for the day, whenever that may be.

“I am there all the time, and I can’t even step out to go to the washroom unless I have someone to replace me on my desk,” said Mr. Salloum.

With a desk next door to the House Chamber, Mr. Salloum has witnessed many historic moments up close from the opposition lobby.

That list includes watching the passing of the 2005 Equal Marriage Act, to legalize gay marriage in Canada, and more recently, being able to watch Bill C-66, on expunging unjust convictions involving consensual sexual activity, get passed through the House, and the Prime Minister make a formal apology to the LGBTQ community. All are standout memories for him, he said, and ones that “really moved” him.

“As a gay person growing up in an immigrant family in Nova Scotia in the 80s, I faced a struggle that’s not unique to me at all,” he said.

“I have amazing experiences everyday, but to be in the lobby and to be part of working when really truly historic moments happen like that, that sort of impacts you on a personal level,” said Mr. Salloum.

Rob Sutherland, chief of staff to the NDP Whip, pictured far left, was voted Most Knowledgeable this year, followed by the PMO’s Gerald Butts and Michael McNair. The Hill Times file photographs and courtesy of Facebook

Rob Sutherland, chief of staff to the NDP whip, was named Most Knowledgeable this year, followed by Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Mr. Trudeau. Michael McNair, who’s been PMO director of policy since fall 2015 and led the Liberal Party’s platform development efforts before that, came third in the category; marking his debut on the list, including taking the No. 7 spot overall.

Mr. Sutherland, meanwhile, ranked No. 9 on the Terrific 25 list this year, having placed at No. 16 in 2016.

Reached by The Hill Times by email, Mr. Sutherland said he was “shocked and honoured” by the results.

“I’m always glad to be recognized by fellow staff, and I try and offer them back the respect they usually show me,” he said.

Mr. Sutherland first began working on Parliament Hill in 1981, joining the NDP House Leader’s Office in 2003, and its Whip’s office in 2012.

“He probably has the Standing Orders memorized,” said one NDP respondent.

Katie Telford pictured hard at work. The Hill Times file photograph

The prime minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, claimed the No. 1 spot on this year’s Terrific 25 list, jumping three spots from last year to beat out 2016’s top staffer, Mr. Butts. Along with that, she ranked No. 1 for Best PMO Staffer again this year, followed by PMO media relations manager Cameron Ahmad in second, and Jamie Kippen, the Ontario regional desk in the PMO, in third.

Ms. Telford was praised by respondents for her work ethic, cat-herding abilities, amicability, and for her “commitment to empowering women.”

“Katie is often the last opinion heard before the PM makes a decision,” said one Liberal respondent.

Mr. Butts, who’s been friends with Mr. Trudeau since university, claimed a number of titles this year, including Most Influence, topping Ms. Telford for the second year in a row. David McArthur, chief of staff to Conservative leader Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.), came third for Most Influence.

Mr. Butts also took the No. 1 spot for Best Access to PMO/Cabinet again this year, with Ms. Telford similarly again taking the No. 2 spot, and Richard Maksymetz, chief of staff to the finance minister, in third. Mr. Butts placed at No. 2 on the overall Terrific 25 list, slipping one spot from last year’s survey.

PMO communications director Kate Purchase, far left, was voted Best at Spin this year, followed by Mr. Butts and the NDP’s Sarah Andrews. The Hill Times file photographs and courtesy of Facebook

PMO communications director Kate Purchase was voted to the No. 1 spot for Best Spin Control this year, with Mr. Butts, a frequent tweeter, in second, and NDP deputy director of communications Sarah Andrews in third. Ms. Purchase took the No. 15 spot overall, up from 22nd last year.

Janick Cormier, Quebec and Atlantic assistant in National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier’s (Gaspésie-Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que.) office, has made her entrance to the Terrific 25 Staffer list, taking the title of Best Cabinet Staffer this year and coming 20th overall.

A former Senate aide, Ms. Cormier has been in Ms. Lebouthillier’s office since March 2017, and previously was an aide to Liberal MP Steven MacKinnon (Gatineau, Que.). Respondents said Ms. Cormier goes “above and beyond” in her job, and stays ahead of the ball.

Marion Pilon-Cousineau, legislative assistant in the finance minister’s Office, claimed the No. 2 Best Cabinet Staffer slot, with Allison Chick, assistant to the finance minister’s parliamentary secretary, rounding out the category in third.

Sarah Thorenton is the Best Liberal Hill Staffer for 2017. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Ms. Thorenton has made her debut on The Hill Times’ Terrific 25 list this year, and along with coming third for Best All-Round Staffer, she was voted the No. 1 Best Liberal Hill Staffer, and came in at No. 8 on the overall Terrific 25 list.

Previously Mr. Easter’s Hill aide from 2008 to 2010, Ms. Thorenton re-joined his office in June 2016. As legislative assistant to Mr. Easter, who’s chair of the House Finance Committee, she’s responsible for keeping the MP briefed on any business popping up in the House, along with aiding him in his duties as committee chair—by attending meetings, organizing logistics, and liaising with clerks and other MPs.

“She is one of the most organized and helpful staffers on the Hill,” said one Liberal respondent.

Ms. Thorenton said she always tries to find ways to be creative and suggest new ideas to her boss. This past summer, for example, she helped set up a “riding exchange” with Mr. Easter and Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell (Pickering-Uxbridge, Ont.), where each toured the other’s riding. Along with combining a rookie MP with a longstanding one, it was a chance for a rural MP to tour a more urban riding, and vice versa.

“I have a lot of room to be creative in this office because Wayne is that kind of boss and really encourages that,” she said.

Jeff Jedras, pictured with Ontario Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne. Photograph courtesy of Facebook

Jeff Jedras, assistant to first-time Liberal MP Salma Zahid (Scarborough Centre, Ont.), came second for Best Liberal Hill Staffer, and at No. 12 on the list. An experienced campaigner, he’s been in Ms. Zahid’s office since the fall of 2015, and was lauded by respondents for his collegiality, hard work, and knowledge of files. Frederik Larouche, executive assistant to Mr. MacKinnon, placed third.

Sean Murphy, senior lobby co-ordinator to the Conservative Whip, made his debut on the Terrific 25 Staffer Survey last year, and has once again won the title of Best Conservative Hill Staffer this year, followed by Mr. Brander—who managed to rank at No. 6 overall—in second, and Mr. Scheer’s principal secretary and longtime aide Kenzie Potter in third. It’s also Ms. Potter’s first ever time on the Terrific 25 list, coming in at No. 18. Mr. Murphy sits at No. 13 overall.

In the Best NDP Hill Staffer category, Nasha Brownridge, a media logistics officer for the NDP caucus and current head of the NDP staffers’ union, came second behind Mr. Salloum, followed by NDP caucus press secretary Mélanie Richer at No. 3.

lryckewaert@hilltimes.com
The Hill Times

 

The Terrific 25 Staffers List, 2017

  1. Katie Telford, chief of staff to the Prime Minister
  2. Gerald Butts, principal secretary to the Prime Minister
  3. Zita Astravas, chief of staff to the National Defence Minister
  4. Cory Hann, director of communications for the Conservative Party of Canada
  5. Anthony Salloum, lobby officer for the NDP Whip
  6. Andrew Brander, member’s assistant to Conservative MP Lisa Raitt
  7. Michael McNair, director of policy to the Prime Minister
  8. Sarah Thorenton, legislative assistant to Liberal MP Wayne Easter
  9. Rob Sutherland, chief of staff to the NDP Whip
  10. Cameron Ahmad, media relations manager in the Prime Minister’s Office
  11. Brian Clow, director of the Canada-U.S. relations unit in the Prime Minister’s Office
  12. Jeff Jedras, special assistant to Liberal MP Salma Zahid
  13. Sean Murphy, manager of parliamentary affairs to the Conservative Whip
  14. Nasha Brownridge, media logistics officer for the NDP caucus
  15. Kate Purchase, director of communications to the Prime Minister
  16. Jamie Kippen, Ontario regional desk in the Prime Minister’s Office
  17. Sebastien Belliveau, legislative assistant in the Prime Minister’s Office
  18. Kenzie Potter, principal secretary to the Conservative Leader
  19. Sarah Andrews, deputy director of communications to the NDP caucus
  20. Janick Cormier, Quebec and Atlantic assistant and assistant to the revenue minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Kamal Khera
  21. Allison Chick, assistant to the foreign affairs minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Matt DeCourcey
  22. David McArthur, chief of staff to the Conservative Leader
  23. Marc-André Leclerc, deputy chief of staff to the Conservative Leader
  24. Adam Scotti, official photographer to the Prime Minister
  25. Véronique Simard, executive assistant to the PMO’s director of communications

 

Best All-Round Terrific Staffer:

  1. Anthony Salloum, lobby officer to the NDP Whip
  2. Andrew Brander, member’s assistant to Conservative MP Lisa Raitt
  3. Sarah Thorenton, legislative assistant to Liberal MP Wayne Easter

Most Knowledgeable:

  1. Rob Sutherland, chief of staff to the NDP Whip
  2. Gerald Butts, principal secretary to the Prime Minister
  3. Michael McNair, director of policy to the Prime Minister

Most Influence:

  1. Gerald Butts, principal secretary to the Prime Minister
  2. Katie Telford, chief of staff to the Prime Minister
  3. David McArthur, chief of staff to Conservative leader Andrew Scheer

Best Spin Control:

  1. Kate Purchase, director of communications to the Prime Minister
  2. Gerald Butts, principal secretary to the Prime Minister
  3. Sarah Andrews, deputy director of communications for the NDP

Best Access to the PMO/Cabinet:

  1. Gerald Butts, principal secretary to the Prime Minister
  2. Katie Telford, chief of staff to the Prime Minister
  3. Richard Maksymetz, chief of staff to the finance minister

Most Discreet:

  1. Anthony Salloum, lobby officer to the NDP Whip
  2. Adam Scotti, official photographer to the Prime Minister
  3. Brett Thalmann, director of special projects and administration in the Prime Minister’s Office

Best PMO Staffer:

  1. Katie Telford, chief of staff to the Prime Minister
  2. Cameron Ahmad, media relations manager in the Prime Minister’s Office
  3. Jamie Kippen, Ontario regional desk in the Prime Minister’s Office

Best Cabinet Staffer:

  1. Janick Cormier, Quebec and Atlantic assistant and assistant to the revenue minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Kamal Khera
  2. Marion Pilon-Cousineau, legislative assistant in the Finance Minister’s Office
  3. Allison Chick, assistant to the foreign affairs minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Matt DeCourcey

Best Liberal Hill Staffer:

  1. Sarah Thorenton, legislative assistant to Liberal MP Wayne Easter
  2. Jeff Jedras, special assistant to Liberal MP Salma Zahid
  3. Frederik Larouche, executive assistant to Liberal MP Steven MacKinnon

Best Conservative Hill Staffer:

  1. Sean Murphy, manager of parliamentary affairs to the Conservative Whip
  2. Andrew Brander, member’s assistant to Conservative MP Lisa Raitt
  3. Kenzie Potter, principal secretary to Conservative leader Andrew Scheer

Best NDP Hill Staffer:

  1. Anthony Salloum, lobby officer to the NDP Whip
  2. Nasha Brownridge, media logistics officer for the NDP caucus
  3. Mélanie Richer, NDP caucus press secretary