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New policy adviser, Ontario desk among recent staff hires in the Prime Minister’s Office

By Laura Ryckewaert      

Plus, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott has hired on Kevin Deagle as a policy adviser, and Simon Robertson has left Employment Minister Patty Hajdu’s office.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office recently welcomed a new policy adviser, new media advance and new Ontario regional affairs adviser to replace Lindsay Hunter, who's joined Treasury Board President and Digital Government Minister Scott Brison's office. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
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There are a few new faces in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, including former McKinsey & Company manager Bud Sambasivam.

Mr. Sambasivam is now busy at work as a policy adviser in the PMO, after joining the top office in early October. Before then, he was a manager with McKinsey & Company in Calgary.

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Mr. Sambasivam studied for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, a master of business administration at the University of Cambridge, and a master’s degree in public administration at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where, in May 2013, he was the graduation speaker for his class. Using an anecdote of a Washington, D.C. street performer, in his speech, Mr. Sambasivam urged graduates, wherever they find themselves, whether in boardrooms or on school boards, “to play great music.”

Bud Sambasivam has joined the Prime Minister’s Office. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

A former director of Engineers Without Borders Canada, Mr. Sambasivam is also a former consultant with Accenture, a management consulting company; and a former engineer and group leader with energy producer EnCana, as indicated on his LinkedIn profile.

Former CBC producer Lisa Laventure is also now working in the PMO as a media advance in the office’s communications and planning unit. She joined the top office in early October.

Before joining the PMO, Ms. Laventure was busy as a field producer with CBC’s parliamentary bureau since April 2016, a role which saw her working to support the broadcaster’s political prime time show, Power and Politics, among other things. Prior to that, she was an associate producer for CBC’s The National since September 2012, having been hired on after a four-month internship with the broadcaster.

Angad Dhillon has joined the PMO. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Ms. Laventure is also a former international development media fellow with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, and a former intern with Thomson Reuters in South Africa. She studied a master’s degree in journalism at Western University and has a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Concordia University.

Now in the PMO, she joins former parliamentary press gallery chief Terry Guillon, who’s been the lead media advance for the PMO since February 2016, and media advance Vanessa Hage-Moussa.

Another new addition to the office is Angad Dhillon, who recently left his post as director of outreach in the Liberal caucus’ research bureau (LRB) to become a new Ontario regional affairs adviser—or Ontario desk, as it’s called—in the PMO.

Lindsay Hunter has joined Minister Brison’s team. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Mr. Dhillon was a field organizer for the Liberal Party in the Peel region during the 2015 federal election, after which he was hired on as a special assistant for operations and outreach in the LRB. He briefly left the research office to serve as a policy adviser to then-heritage minister Mélanie Joly before being named director of outreach in the LRB in March 2017.

In his new role, Mr. Dhillon joins fellow Ontario desk Jamie Kippen, and replaces Lindsay Hunter, who recently left for a new job in Treasury Board President and Digital Government Minister Scott Brison’s office as director of parliamentary affairs and digital government; in part a reflection of the minister’s new responsibilities.

Until recently, Edward Rawlinson was director of parliamentary affairs in the office, but he’s taken on a new title as senior adviser to the minister. In this role, he’ll be focused on work related to defence procurement, the NextGen pay system being developed to replace Phoenix, collective bargaining and government HR policy.

A former organizing director of NationBuilder and a former analysis manager at Research In Motion, Mr. Rawlinson has been working for Mr. Brison since early 2016.

Adam Carroll is chief of staff to the minister.

New policy adviser for Philpott, as director exits Minister Hajdu’s team

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott has a couple of recent staffing changes in her ministerial office, including hiring a new policy adviser, Kevin Deagle.

Kevin Deagle is now working for Minister Philpott. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Mr. Deagle joined Ms. Philpott’s team during the first week of October and was previously an account manager with Spark Advocacy in Ottawa. Politics is often a family business, it seems, with plenty of familial connections on the Hill, and Mr. Deagle makes for yet another as he’s brother to Jordan Deagle, who’s currently communications planning manager in the PMO. (Speaking of such connections, Perry Tsergas, partner, president and CEO of Spark Advocacy is husband to PMO executive director of communications and planning Kate Purchase, and her dad is fellow Spark partner Bruce Anderson.)

Mr. Deagle studied international relations at the University of Toronto and has a master’s degree in environmental change and management from the University of Oxford, as indicated by his LinkedIn profile. Among other past roles, he’s also a former researcher for The Chiefs of Ontario advocacy forum, and a former researcher with the University of Toronto’s Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History.

Kyle McKenzie is now a departmental staffer. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

On the flip side, senior policy adviser Kyle McKenzie is no longer working for Ms. Philpott, having left the minister’s office around mid-September. He was first hired on in October 2017, not long after Ms. Philpott took over the new portfolio born out of the splitting-up of the old department of Indigenous and northern affairs as part of cabinet changes announced in August 2017.

Mr. McKenzie has since joined the public service at Indigenous Services Canada and is currently acting director general delivery, active response, and coordination in the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch’s assistant deputy minister’s office, essentially serving as acting chief of staff. Valerie Gideon is currently senior assistant deputy minister for the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.

A former senior policy adviser at Health Canada and Justice Canada, Mr. McKenzie is also a former senior policy adviser for the Assembly of First Nations and a former senior policy analyst for the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, amongst other past jobs.

Jessica Hayden is director of policy to Ms. Philpott, and along with Mr. Deagle, Joseph Wabegijig is a policy adviser in the office. Rachel Doran is chief of staff to the minister.

Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu is in need of a new full-time director of policy and parliamentary affairs after Simon Robertson’s recent exit from her office to join Small Business and Export Promotion Mary Ng’s team.

Simon Robertson has joined Small Business Minister Mary Ng’s office. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

A former PMO policy adviser, Mr. Robertson left the top office to join Ms. Hajdu’s team in February 2017, shortly after Ms. Hajdu was shuffled into the portfolio from her previous post as status of women minister.

Mr. Robertson is also a former associate with Miller Thomson LLP in Toronto and a former assistant to then Liberal MP Siobhán Coady, who’s now a Liberal MLA in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Carleton University, a master’s degree in international relations and affairs from the University of Cambridge, and a doctor of law from the University of Ottawa.

With his departure, senior policy adviser Daniel McKenzie has stepped up as acting director of policy and parliamentary affairs to Ms. Hajdu. Also currently focused on policy work in the office is Hersi Hujaleh, senior policy adviser, and policy adviser Kelly Bryant. Sabina Saini is chief of staff to the minister.

Now in Ms. Ng’s office, Mr. Robertson has taken over as director of policy to the new minister.

John Matheson, who was previously director of policy to then-small business and tourism minister Bardish Chagger before this past summer’s cabinet changes, had stayed on for a time after Ms. Ng was shuffled into the re-worked office on July 16 before exiting to become director of policy to Ms. Chagger in her office as Government House Leader.

Also currently working for Ms. Ng are: Jason Easton, chief of staff; Leslie Sherban, director of operations and parliamentary affairs; Mallory Clyne, director of communications; Allen Alexandre, press secretary and issues manager; Laurel Sallie, special assistant for communications; Ajandam Sivam, stakeholder relations and regional affairs adviser; Linda Campbell, policy and regional affairs adviser for the west and north; Alessia Avola, special assistant for operations; Ryan Nearing, special assistant for policy and Atlantic regional affairs; and Corrine Havard, Quebec regional affairs adviser and assistant to the parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP Richard Hébert.

Catching up with former political staffers 

Diamond Isinger has started a new job post-Hill and is now manager of public affairs with the B.C. Council of Forest Industries in Vancouver.

Diamond Isinger is now working for the B.C. Council of Forest Industries. Photograph courtesy of Twitter

Ms. Isinger left the Hill, and Ottawa, a couple of weeks ago after exiting her role as a special assistant on the Prime Minister’s Office’s Canada-U.S. relations team, headed by director Brian Clow.

She announced her new job in a tweet on Oct. 22, saying she was “delighted to be joining the team.”

“An exciting new opportunity to help tell the story of B.C.’s forest industry, promote sustainable forest products, and continue working on all things international trade,” she said in her tweet.

Before joining the PMO in early 2017 upon the formation of the PMO’s Canada-U.S. war room, Ms. Isinger was a special assistant for operations in Ms. Freeland’s old office as the minister for international trade.

American tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber remain in place following the recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but also retained through NAFTA renegotiations was the dispute settlement system in Chapter 19, which has been used to challenge such tariffs.

Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan’s recently departed (from the Hill, not the world) press secretary Ann Marie Paquet has landed a new role with Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada.

Ms. Paquet had been press secretary to Ms. Duncan since June 2017 and exited her post in September. A former manager of communications for the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, amongst other past jobs, she’s now a senior communications adviser on the departmental side of ISEDC in the communications and marketing branch under the office of the deputy minister, John Knubley.

Speaking of former press secretaries, in other news, Sabrina Williams, former press secretary to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, has been busy at work as a communications adviser for Domtar, a pulp, paper and personal care company, in Montreal since June, as indicated by her LinkedIn profile.

Ms. Williams left the Hill, and Ms. Bennett’s office, in April after almost two-and-a-half years on the job, starting in January 2016 when Ms. Bennett held the title of minister of Indigenous and northern affairs.

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