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Hill Life & People

Fresh off the campaign trail in New Brunswick, Guy Gallant now comms director to heritage minister

By Laura Ryckewaert      

Plus, there are a flurry of staff changes in the LRB, including former Ontario Liberal staffer Kevin Den Heijer’s addition as special assistant for Ontario regional affairs.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, pictured, has scooped up Guy Gallant to serve as his new director of communications. Mr. Gallant is fresh off of the campaign trail, having taken a leave from the Hill to work for the New Brunswick Liberal leader in the lead-up to last month's provincial election. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
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Heritage and Multiculturalism Minister Pablo Rodriguez has named Guy Gallant as his new director of communications.

Emilie Simard was previously communications director in the heritage minister’s office, but she left to do the same job for Transport Minister Marc Garneau in late August.

Guy Gallant is now working for Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. Photograph courtesy of Twitter

Mr. Gallant was previously communications director to Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. He recently took leave from that post to help out his former boss, New Brunswick Liberal premier Brian Gallant (no relation), ahead of the Sept. 24 provincial election.

That election resulted in the New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives winning 22 seats, with the Liberals claiming 21, despite garnering a higher percentage of the popular vote. Since then, Mr. Gallant’s Liberals have remained in power, and will try to form government, contesting the PCs’ assertion that they should form government. Talks were underway last week between both parties and the provincial Greens, which won three seats, about striking an agreement to help either form government. The right-leaning People’s Alliance, which also won three seats, said it has an informal plan to support a PC government. Meanwhile, recounts in three ridings confirmed the original results, after the PCs alleged voting irregularities, though there could still be court challenges.

Mr. MacAulay has already named Katie Hawkins as his new director of communications, as previously reported by Hill Climbers.

Simon Ross is press secretary to Mr. Rodriguez, and Maxime Dea is chief of staff to the minister.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill Morneau has two new additions to his office, as pre-budget consultations ramp up ahead of the 2019 federal budget.

Natalie Brender is a new senior communications adviser to the minister. Her name is known in foreign-policy circles because she used to be an editor for and contributor to the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies’ blog. Ms. Brender has done other policy-analyst and writing work over the years, including for the Conference Board of Canada, Universities Canada, and the former Canadian International Development Agency, according to her LinkedIn profile. From 2015 to 2017, she was the national director of Genome Canada’s genomics in society program. She’s also a former assistant professor of philosophy for the Connecticut-based liberal arts college Wesleyan University.

It’s not her first time working in a Liberal minister’s office. She was a speechwriter and policy adviser to then-foreign minister Bill Graham between 2002 and 2004.

Francesco Biondi-Morra has also joined Mr. Morneau’s office as the assistant to the minister’s two parliamentary secretaries, Liberal MPs Joël Lightbound and Jennifer O’Connell.

Natalie Brender is a new senior communications adviser to Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Until recently, Mr. Biondi-Morra was working on the Hill as a member’s assistant to Liberal MP Jean-Claude Poissant, who represents La Prairie, Que. Back in 2016, he spent time as a special assistant in then-immigration minister John McCallum’s office. He left the Hill to become a consultant with Hatley Strategy Advisors in November 2016, and returned in January of this year to work for Mr. Poissant.

Staffing changes abound in the Liberal research bureau

A string of staffing changes have taken place recently in the Liberal caucus’ research bureau, also known as the LRB.

Three former summer interns—Julia Van Drie, Nyagua Chiek, and Ana Krstanovic—have been hired on as full-time staff, all working under the title of special assistant.

Ms. Van Drie was an outreach intern in the LRB this past summer after working as a special assistant to Labour Minister Patty Hajdu for about a year starting in May 2017. She’s a past president of the Carleton University Young Liberals, having graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in history earlier this year, and has been involved with the Ontario Young Liberals as a student director.

Ms. Chiek comes to Ottawa from Airdrie, Alta. A first generation South Sudanese-Canadian, she was a delegate for Banff-Airdrie, Alta. for Equal Voice’s Daughters of the Vote program, which saw young women from across the country take seats in Parliament for a day in March 2017. She’s also been a youth ambassador for Plan Canada, the Canadian arm of Plan International; and a delegate at the United Nations Youth Assembly.

Ana Krstanovic is now a special assistant in the Liberal Research Bureau. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

This past summer was Ms. Krstanovic’s second spent as an intern in the LRB; she was also a communications and outreach intern in the office in 2017. Ms. Krstanovic has a bachelor’s degree in political science and film studies from the University of Waterloo.

Also, Amanda Doyle started on the job this week as a communications adviser in the LRB. Up until the June 7 Ontario election, which saw a Progressive Conservative majority government displace the incumbent Liberals, Ms. Doyle was a legislative assistant and issues manager to Ontario’s health and long-term care minister, starting in September 2017 under then-minister Eric Hoskins and ending under Helena Jaczek.

Before then, Ms. Doyle worked for the Ontario Retirement Communities Association from 2015 to 2017.

Sara Camus has joined the LRB as its new office manager. She spent this past summer as an intern in Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef’s Hill office. She’s a former chair of the New Brunswick Student Alliance, and a former president of Mount Allison University’s Students’ Union. She has a bachelor’s degree in fine and studio arts from the school, located in Sackville, N.B.

Landon Wilcock has joined the LRB as an executive assistant to the managing director. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Landon Wilcock is another new hire in the LRB. He is now executive assistant to managing director Melissa Cotton. Previously, Brooke Malinoski filled this role, but she left over the summer for a job in the Prime Minister’s Office as executive assistant to chief of staff Katie Telford and principal secretary Gerald Butts.

Mr. Wilcock was previously a legislative assistant on the Hill to Liberal MP Mike Bossio, who represents Hastings-Lennox and Addington, Ont. A former fellow with the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee, Mr. Wilcock has also been a research and executive assistant with Queen’s University’s Centre for International and Defence Policy.

He has a bachelor’s degree in political studies from the school and spent a year as communications director for the Queen’s University Liberal Association.

Kevin Den Heijer is now a special assistant for Ontario regional affairs in the LRB, having recently replaced Kevin Lemkay who has left to become a communications and Ontario regional affairs adviser to Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair.

Mr. Den Heijer was previously working at Queen’s Park as a legislative adviser and issues manager to then-Ontario energy minister Glenn Thibeault. He’s also a former communications officer with the Canada Revenue Agency and the National Research Council, and a former communications consultant with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. On the Hill, he previously spent a few months in 2014 as an assistant to Liberal MP Hedy Fry, as indicated by his LinkedIn profile.

A number of other staffers have recently left the LRB. Shiming Fei recently left her role as a communications adviser in the LRB to return to Toronto, and is now an associate with the SickKids Foundation, as indicated by her LinkedIn profile. She’d been working in the LRB for only a few months, and previously was an assistant to the late Liberal MP Arnold Chan.

Communications assistant Ryan Nearing left the LRB last week and is set to soon start work in Small Business and Export Promotion Minister Mary Ng’s office as a special assistant for policy and Atlantic regional affairs.

Mr. Nearing had first joined the LRB in April and before that was an assistant to Liberal MP Darrell Samson, who represents Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, N.S.

Along with Mr. Nearing, Ms. Ng recently welcomed Alessia Avola to her office as a special assistant for operations. In this role, Ms. Avola helps with the minister’s scheduling, among other things. Jason Easton is chief of staff to Ms. Ng.

Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux is working for Border Security Minister Bill Blair. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

The Liberal caucus was allocated a total budget of just over $3-million to run its research office in 2018-19. Along with digging up dirt on other parties, these research offices pump out bill kits and disseminate communications lines and products to MP offices for use in their work.

In other news for Mr. Blair’s office, Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux is back on the Hill and is now a senior communications adviser to the minister.

A former Quebec Liberal staffer, she started off working for the federal Liberal government in September 2016 as a press secretary to then-small business and tourism minister Bardish Chagger, and went on to serve as press secretary to International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau before leaving the Hill in February 2018. Since then, and until recently, she’d been working for C2 Montréal.

Stevie O’Brien is chief of staff to Mr. Blair.


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