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Perreault promoted to PMO lead speechwriter after Armstrong departs for Morneau’s office

By Laura Ryckewaert      

Plus, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett recently said goodbye to her press secretary, Sabrina Williams.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured during a press conference with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in Centre Block last week, has promoted Brittany Perreault to take the lead on PMO speechwriting. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
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Brittany Perreault has been promoted to be senior manager of speechwriting in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, taking charge of the team previously headed by Jeni Armstrong.

Former lead speechwriter Ms. Armstrong left the Prime Minister’s Office on March 29 to join Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s team as a senior communications adviser as of April 9. She announced the move in a tweet on March 28.

In a Facebook post on her decision to change roles, Ms. Armstrong said that while “writing for the prime minister was, and always will be, my dream job,” it was time for “new challenges and new opportunities.”

“Tomorrow will be my last day in the PMO. I will miss the people and the place in ways in ways I cannot begin to articulate. An occupational hazard for a speechwriter, I suppose,” read the March 28 post.

Jeni Armstrong started work in the finance minister’s office on April 9. Photograph courtesy of Facebook

Ms. Armstrong had been writing speeches for Mr. Trudeau for roughly the last five years, starting during his time as leader of the third-party Liberals in 2013. Before then, she worked as a freelance writer, as indicated by her LinkedIn profile, and has also spent a number of years working as a communications specialist for Restaurants Canada. She has a bachelor of arts from the University of Waterloo.

In Mr. Morneau’s office, she’s joined Matthew Barnes, special assistant for communications; Chloé Luciani-Girouard, press secretary; and Daniel Lauzon, director of communications.

Ms. Perrault, meanwhile, has been working as a speechwriter in the PMO since January 2016, and was promoted to be senior speechwriter last October. She was a writer for the Liberal Party during the 2015 federal election, and before that was a special assistant for communications in Mr. Trudeau’s leader’s office on the Hill.

Brittany Perreault is now senior manager of speechwriting in the PMO. Photograph courtesy of Facebook

She has a bachelor of arts in law from Carleton University and a master’s degree in political management from the school.

Gabrielle Cesvet remains a speechwriter in the PMO. There’s also lead writer James McMillan and writer Clare Donohue-Meyer, all of whom work under the communications and planning branch of the office, under executive director Kate Purchase, who is currently on maternity leave.

Katie Telford is PMO chief of staff, aided by principal secretary Gerald Butts.

The Globe and Mail recently broke the news of another change in the finance minister’s office, with senior adviser Ben Chin set to take over as chief of staff to the minister starting on May 1, replacing Richard Maksymetz.

Mr. Chin joined Mr. Morneau’s office last fall, and was previously executive director of communications and issues management to then-Liberal British Columbia premier Christy Clark for a number of years. A former journalist, he was also a senior communications adviser to Dalton McGuinty when Mr. McGuinty was a Liberal premier of Ontario, and Mr. Chin is a former vice president for communications with the Ontario Power Authority.

Ben Chin will take over as chief of staff to the finance minister on May 1. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

He replaces Mr. Maksymetz, who’s been chief of staff to Mr. Morneau since the beginning. Mr. Morneau was among the first ministers to announce a chief of staff after the election in late 2015.

Mr. Maksymetz was director of mobilization for the Liberals during the 2015 campaign. A longtime Western organizer for the party, he worked as an aide to then-Liberal transport minister Jean Lapierre starting in 2004, and has been a senior adviser to Ms. Clark as B.C. premier, amongst other experience.

When Mr. Chin takes over as chief of staff, Mr. Maksymetz is set to leave the Hill for work outside government. He reportedly informed the minister early last year that the 2018 federal budget, his third with the office, would be his last. Stay tuned to Hill Climbers for more details on where he lands.

Mr. Morneau’s office currently also includes: Justin To, policy and budget director; Catherine Loiacono, director of parliamentary affairs; deputy policy directors Ian Foucher and Elliot Hughes; policy advisers Allie Chalke, Emily Yorke, and Maximilien Roy; Sharan Kaur, senior manager of operations; Marion Pilon-Cousineau, legislative assistant; Samar Assoum, special assistant for parliamentary affairs and stakeholder relations; Priya Gurnani, executive assistant; Milaine Leduc, executive assistant to the chief of staff and office manager; and Christina Lazarova, assistant to the minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Joël Lightbound.

In 2016-17, Mr. Morneau’s office spent $1.8-million, the bulk of which was for personnel.

Bennett down a press secretary, hires staffer from McKenna’s team

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett is in need of a new press secretary. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett recently saw a couple of changes to her ministerial staffing roster, including the departure of press secretary Sabrina Williams.

Ms. Williams had been tackling media requests as press secretary to Ms. Bennett since January 2016, when the minister was in charge of the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs portfolio. The department was split up in August 2017, with Ms. Bennett becoming Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs minister and former health minister Jane Philpott being made Indigenous services minister.

Sabrina Williams in no longer working for Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett. Photograph courtesy of Facebook

During the 2015 federal election, Ms. Williams did media relations work for the Liberal Party in Quebec. She’s a former press secretary to then-Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, a former Liberal MP for Bourassa, Que., who was defeated by Valérie Plante in the Montreal mayoral election in November 2017.

As indicated on her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Williams is also a former executive assistant for public affairs at the U.S. Consulate General office in Quebec City, and has done public relations work for SES Technologies, a computer hardware company.

A new press secretary has not yet been hired. James Fitz-Morris continues to serve as director of communications and issues management to the minister.

In other staffing news, Ms. Bennett recently scooped up one of Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna’s political aides.

Matthew Dillon-Leitch, a former special assistant to Ms. McKenna, started in his new role as an issues manager to Ms. Bennett on April 3.

He’d been in Ms. McKenna’s ministerial office since the beginning of May 2017, and before then was a legislative assistant to Ms. McKenna on the Hill in her capacity as the Liberal MP for Ottawa Centre. From Markham, Ont., he studied at McMaster University and while there served for a time as president of the McMaster Students Union.

Rick Theis is chief of staff to Ms. Bennett. Other political staffers working for the minister include: Sarah Welch, director of policy and regional affairs; Vincent Haraldsen, director of parliamentary affairs; policy and regional affairs advisers Emmaline English, Daniel Pujdak, and Annalisa Harris; Tiara Folkes, special adviser for policy and regional affairs; Julie Hill, senior special assistant; Charlotte McKenna, special assistant for legislative affairs; and Alexsa McKenzie, assistant to the minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Yvonne Jones.


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