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Hill Life & People

Families Minister Duclos promotes new policy director after Mathieu Laberge departs

By Laura Ryckewaert      

Plus, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has a new deputy press secretary.

Families, Children, and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos recently elevated policy adviser Dylan Marando to the role of director of policy in his office. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
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Families, Children, and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has a new director of policy in his office following the recent departure of Mathieu Laberge from the role.

Up until the beginning of this month, Mr. Laberge had been in charge of policy work in Mr. Duclos’ office since February 2016. He’s previously been a deputy chief economist for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, after starting out as a manager for economic and housing analysis at CMHC in 2010.

Mathieu Laberge is no longer working for Mr. Duclos. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Mr. Laberge is also a former economist with the Montreal Economic Institute, and a former project director and economist with CIRANO, a research institute in Montreal, amongst other past experience.

He studied an undergrad in economics at the Université de Montréal and went on to do a master’s in economics and international economics at the University of Nottingham and an executive master’s of business administration and management at Cornell University.

Following his departure from Mr. Duclos’ office, senior policy adviser Dylan Marando was promoted to serve as the minister’s new director of policy as of April 9. A former Liberal staffer at Queen’s Park, Mr. Marando first joined Mr. Duclos’ political staff team in September 2016.

He’s currently in the process of completing a PhD in public policy at the University of Toronto, where he also completed his bachelor and master’s degrees in the subject. According to the university’s website, his work is focused on the “politics of Canadian social development, particularly democratic engagement and economic inequality.”

Mr. Marando previously served as a senior adviser to Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, and before then was an aide to her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty. He’s also a former director of policy for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and has had writing published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the Mowat Centre, The Globe and Mail and the National Post, among others.

In 2015, for example, he co-authored a piece published in The Globe and Mail titled “Why we should use cities to solve the public’s problems,” suggesting policymakers road-test ambitious ideas for policy change at the municipal level and use “the unique size and structure of our cities, as well the difference of our neighbourhoods, as a fertile learning environment for policymakers.”

“But don’t rush to even imagine a national or universal solution before such cases have been relentlessly evaluated and modified, and direct feedback from citizens has been solicited,” reads the piece.

Olivier Duchesneau is chief of staff to Mr. Duclos, while Marjorie Michel is director of parliamentary affairs, Marc-Étienne Vien is director of issues management, Mathieu Filion is director of communications, and Emilie Gauduchon is press secretary.

The minister’s office also currently includes: Rachel Desjardins, senior special assistant; Shannon Zimmerman, senior special assistant for Ontario regional affairs; Kyna Boyce, special assistant for Atlantic regional affairs; Colleen Lamothe, special assistant for Western regional affairs; Helena Botelho, special assistant for information management; Michael Brewster, special assistant for issues management; Jessie Pierre, special assistant for operations; Matthew Pollesel, special assistant for media; and Hana Kokanovic, special assistant to the minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Adam Vaughan.

Mr. Duclos expensed a total of $1,579,364 in 2016-17 to run his ministerial office, with the bulk of it—almost $1.5-million—for personnel costs.

Freeland hires deputy press secretary, bids farewell to consular affairs adviser

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has expanded her communications team, recently hiring Marie-Pier Baril as her deputy press secretary.

Ms. Baril was previously working for the Liberal Party as an email engagement co-ordinator.

She’s also previously been a business development specialist at Speechless, which provides training to improve public speaking and presentations, and a teacher’s assistant for global economics at the Hult International Business School, at which she obtained a master’s degree in international business.

Ms. Baril also has a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political science from the University of Montreal, and a master’s in Asia Pacific policy study from the University of British Columbia.

Adam Austen is press secretary to Ms. Freeland, while Alexander Lawrence is the minister’s director of communications.

Assistant to the parliamentary secretary and consular affairs adviser Maria Lamani is no longer working in Ms. Freeland’s office. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Ms. Freeland also bade farewell to aide Maria Lamani, assistant to the parliamentary secretary and consular affairs adviser, who recently exited the minister’s office.

Ms. Lamani first joined the foreign affairs minister’s office in February 2016 under then-minister Stéphane Dion. Before then, she’d been working as a senior policy adviser to then-Ontario Liberal attorney general and minister responsible for francophone affairs Madeleine Meilleur.

Starting off as assistant to the minister’s parliamentary secretary, Ms. Lamani added on consular affairs adviser duties in February 2017 after Ms. Freeland took over the portfolio.

Ms. Freeland has three parliamentary secretaries supporting her: Liberal MP Matt DeCourcey, Liberal MP Omar Alghabra (for consular affairs), and Liberal MP Andrew Leslie (for Canada-U.S. relations). Allison Chick remains in place as assistant to Mr. DeCourcey as parliamentary secretary. Sher Rodrigo continues to help out on the consular affairs end of things, as a special assistant for consular affairs and operations.

As assistant to Mr. Alghabra, in 2017, Ms. Lamani got a chance to accompany the parliamentary secretary on two multi-leg trips abroad: one in January to Pakistan, Thailand, and the Philippines for bilateral meetings on consular cases and security, human rights concerns, and trade opportunities, totalling $12,215.62, according to her travel expense claim; and another in April to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Ethiopia, and the U.K. to discuss consular cases and human rights concern, totalling $7,079.42.

Jeremy Broadhurst is chief of staff to Ms. Freeland.

Staff changes in the LRB, two exit for Minister Joly’s team

A number of staffing changes have taken place in the Liberal research bureau (LRB) since Hill Climbers last checked in, including the recent hiring of new Atlantic regional affairs adviser Morgan Kelly.

A former resident of St. John’s, N.L., Ms. Kelly fills an opening left by the departure of John Hearn from the Liberal caucus’ research office in March. Mr. Hearn is now working in Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger’s office as assistant to the minister’s parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Alaina Lockhart.

Ms. Kelly has previously been a research and analysis officer with Transport Canada, and is a former policy research analyst with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in St. John’s, N.L. She also spent roughly four months in 2013 as a policy and planning intern with Newfoundland and Labrador’s department of Innovation, Business, and Rural Development, amongst other past experience.

She studied a bachelor’s degree in political science and government at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and has a master’s in the same subject from the school.

Dustin Fitzpatrick, who was previously a special assistant for communications in the office, is now a communications planner for digital. Rafik Grine, who was previously a special assistant for parliamentary affairs in the LRB, is now a French communications assistant.

In some more belated news, Andy Singh, a former deputy director of parliamentary affairs, became a senior adviser for compliance in the office roughly one year ago. As well, adviser Ben Parsons is no longer working in the LRB, having departed last summer, and is now an account director with Counsel Public Affairs.

Nadine Medawar has left the LRB to join Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s office. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Two other more recent departures from the LRB are communications planner Irene Cheung and senior adviser for French communications and Quebec regional affairs Nadine Medawar, both of whom have since joined Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s office.

Melissa Cotton is in charge of the LRB as managing director. The research office was allocated a budget of $3,028,200 for 2017-18.

Ms. Cheung started on the job as a new communications adviser in Ms. Joly’s office on April 9, filling a gap left by the recent departure of Rachel Rappaport, who is now press secretary to Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott. In the LRB she’d been in charge of parliamentary mail-outs for the Liberal caucus, having joined the office in August 2016.

She’s a former council member for the Ontario College of Teachers, and a former secondary school teacher with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Ms. Cheung has a bachelor of education from Queen’s University, and a master of education from the University of Toronto.

For her part, Ms. Medawar joined Ms. Joly’s staff team on April 3, replacing policy adviser Staci Ahonen, who went on maternity leave starting on April 17, after which she’s set to move to India with her family in August, according to the minister’s office.

In the Ms. Joly’s office, Ms. Ahonen was in charge of public appointments and was the lead on relations with China. Ms. Joly wrapped up a five-day trip to China last week.

“During her time, she oversaw nearly 110 appointments for 15 portfolios organizations, including CBC/Radio-Canada’s next CEO, Catherine Tait. She also organized Canada’s very first creative industries mission in China, resulting in $125-million in deals for our businesses,” said Ms. Joly’s press secretary, Simon Ross, in an email.

Ms. Medawar has now taken over as policy adviser and head of nominations to Ms. Joly. She’d been working in the LRB for roughly the last two years. During the 2015 federal election, she ran as the party’s candidate in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, Que., ultimately coming third to NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice with roughly 20.7 per cent of the vote.

Before pursuing political work, she focused on her work as a recording artist and songwriter, and founded her own record and concert production company, True Music. Ms. Medawar has a bachelor’s degree in international business and strategic planning from McGill University, and is set to complete a master’s degree in conflict studies at Ottawa’s St. Paul University later this year.

Leslie Church is chief of staff to Ms. Joly.

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