Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair, who will be facing intense political and media scrutiny this week as the lead minister on the legalization of cannabis in Canada on Oct. 17, has named Ryan Cotter as director of communications.
Mr. Cotter arrives in Mr. Blair’s brand new cabinet office straight from the Liberal Research Bureau, where he’d been busy working as a senior adviser for Ontario regional affairs up until Oct. 12.
He first joined the Liberal caucus’ research office, also known as the LRB, in August 2016 and before then was a special assistant for operations to then-Indigenous and northern affairs minister Carolyn Bennett. Ms. Bennett was instead made the Minister or Crown-Indigenous Relations as part of cabinet changes announced in August 2017, which included splitting up the old INAC department into two, with the other half being tackled by Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott.
Mr. Cotter is also a former parliamentary assistant to Ms. Bennett as the Liberal MP for Toronto-St. Paul’s, Ont., and a former executive assistant to Liberal MP Hedy Fry, who represents Vancouver Centre, B.C. in the House of Commons. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Carleton University.
Now in Mr. Blair’s office, he’ll be working closely with senior communications adviser Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux and his former LRB colleague, Kevin Lemkay, who’s now a communications and Ontario regional affairs adviser to the minister, as recently reported by Hill Climbers.
Stevie O’Brien is chief of staff to Mr. Blair. So far, also hired on to work for the new minister as political aides are: Radey Barrack, director of operations; Jonathan Kalles, senior adviser for Quebec; and Jordan Crosby, issues manager.
In other LRB staffing news, Chelsea Kusnick was recently hired on as a special assistant for training, and marks her first day in the office on Oct. 15.
Previously, Ms. Kusnick was working on the Hill as an assistant to Liberal MP Nick Whalen, who was elected to represent the riding of St. John’s East, N.L. in 2015 after garnering roughly 46.7 per cent of the vote—just 646 votes ahead of NDP incumbent Jack Harris.
She’s a former marketing assistant with Boilingpoint Group, a strategic marketing and media relations firm in Vancouver, B.C., and briefly worked as an administrative assistant for the Alliance of Beverage Licencees B.C. She’s also previously done political operations work for the federal Liberal Party in Ontario from 2010 to 2012. Ms. Kusnick has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western University.
Melissa Cotton is overall managing director of the LRB, which was allocated an annual budget of $3,052,430 for 2018-19.
Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan recently bade farewell to her press secretary Ann Marie Paquet.
Ms. Paquet was first hired on to work for Ms. Duncan in June 2017, starting out in her office as science minister. Previously, Ms. Duncan was in charge of two separate portfolios, sport and science, with two separate offices—these got merged into one as part of cabinet changes announced on July 18.
Until recently, Ms. Paquet had stayed on as press secretary to Ms. Duncan as science and sport minister. She’s a former manager of communications for the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, and before that worked for the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, starting out in 2011 as a communications officer and ending as director of communications, amongst other past jobs.
It’s unclear where Ms. Paquet will land, but stay tuned to Hill Climbers for any update.
Michael Bhardwaj is director of communications to Ms. Duncan, who’s office is run by chief of staff Anne Dawson.
Other political aides currently working for the minister include: Catherine Loiacono, director of operations and parliamentary affairs; Stephanie Muccilli, director of policy; Marilla McCargar, senior policy adviser; Melissa Rumble, tour and operations coordinator; Jagmeet Sra, parliamentary affairs and policy assistant; John Hearn, parliamentary affairs assistant; Zachary Caldwell, parliamentary affairs and issues adviser; Felicity Feinman, digital and social media lead; Brendan Haveman, ministerial liaison; Angela Facette, office manager and scheduling assistant; and driver Gordon Bean.
David McArthur, who exited as chief of staff to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in May, has been busy since leaving the Hill.
As of July, Mr. McArthur has been occupied as vice-president of government relations with 3|Sixty Secure Corp, a multi-national security services company, and as director of government relations and public affairs for African Cannabis Corp., a start-up based in Canada that’s aimed at getting into the medical marijuana market in Africa and applying for licenses to produce medical marijuana. His LinkedIn profile also indicates he’s president of McArthur Partners.
Mr. McArthur was previously deputy chief of staff to then-interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose and served as chief of staff to a number of ministers under the former Harper Conservative government.
In other former staff news, Noémie Julien, who exited her role as senior manager of long-term planning in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office (PMO) in June, is now chief of staff to Invest in Canada chief executive officer Ian Mckay. Launched by the federal government in March 2018 as part of increased efforts to attract foreign investment, Invest in Canada is a bureau under Global Affairs Canada and is responsible for promoting and attracting foreign direct investment into Canada.
The Liberal government has been criticized over Canada’s struggles to attract foreign investment. A July 2018 report from the C.D. Howe Institute concluded that Canada’s “performance in attracting FDI [foreign direct investment] has been lacklustre of late, both in historical terms and relative to competitors.” In March, Statistics Canada reported that foreign direct investment dropped 26 per cent in 2017 to $33.8-billion; it’s the second year in a row these levels have dropped, down more than 50 per cent since 2015.
Ms. Julien was manager of planning for Mr. Trudeau’s leaders tour during the 2015 federal election and before that worked in his office as the third party Liberal leader. She also was previously Mr. Mckay’s executive assistant during his time as national director of the federal Liberal Party from 2010 to 2013.
Meanwhile, Jane Almeida, who exited her role as director of communications to Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan in July, is now busy working for Tim Horton’s owner Restaurant Brands International in Toronto as lead for brand communications.
Before coming to work on the Hill in April 2017, she’d been director of communications to then Ontario transport minister Steven Del Duca. She’s also a former press secretary to then Ontario Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, and a former senior manager of corporate communications and media relations for the Canadian Olympic Committee.
She left the Hill at the start of last summer alongside her husband, John Zerucelli, who was previously director of operations in the Prime Minister’s Office. Mr. Zerucelli is now vice president of public affairs at Universal Music Canada, as previously reported.
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