With big changes come uncertainties. That was especially true last week for many Hill staffers working in ministers' offices affected by last week's massive cabinet shuffle, and many of them weren't sure if they were coming or going after Prime Minister Jean ChrÃ©tien demoted, promoted and sent cabinet ministers to the back benches last week. "It's still too early. Call back next week," was the standard, harried reply given by staffers when asked about their political futures. The Prime Minister booted out seven cabinet ministers, promoted 10 rookies to cabinet and expanded his cabinet to 39. The extra chaos was created when former industry minister Brian Tobin made the stunning announcement he was quitting politics, forcing his many minions to start packing. "Nobody saw it coming," Heidi Bonnell sadly told The Hill Times about her long-time boss' swan song. As Mr. Tobin's main media handler for the past eight years, she followed the former Rat-Packer from Ottawa to Newfoundland and back again to Ottawa. She started with Mr. Tobin in 1993 when he was appointed as federal Fisheries Minister and went along with him in 1996 when he was crowned premier of Newfoundland. She returned to Ottawa in 2000 to work as his communications director when he was made Industry Minister. "It's like losing a member of the family," she said, adding that she has no idea what she will do now. "It was a fantastic and wonderful team. No one has any solid plans," she continued, admitting that many of her colleagues may turn to the private sector for work. They include two other long-standing staffers from Mr. Tobin's days as premier of Newfoundland. Margot Brown, who served in the Newfoundland Premier's Office under both Clyde Wells and Mr. Tobin, worked as Mr. Tobin's special assistant in charge of scheduling and appointments since his return to Ottawa. She is now jobless, as is Paul McCarthy, who was brought in from the Newfoundland Premier's Office to work on policy issues related to Industry. In total, Mr. Tobin had 23 dedicated staffers working for him in his riding, Hill and ministerial offices. As the MP plans to step down early this week, all will be looking for new jobs. Parliamentary Assistant Bianca James, however, gets to stay behind to clean up the Hill office. She has up to 17 days to do this at which point the Chief Government Whip or the Speaker Office's will take over the digs until the date of the byelection. One of the three staffers in the Bonavista-Trinity-Conception, Nfld., riding office will also stay behind. That job will go to either riding assistants Rodney Mercer, Gay Rice, or Ruby Ryan. He or she will have 30 days until the Whip or Speaker takes over. As for the others, all left last week to make room for new Industry Minister Allan Rock's people. In addition to Ms. Bonnell, Ms. Brown, and Mr. McCarthy, they include: Executive Assistant John Butler, Senior Policy Advisor Chris Clark, Legislative Assistant Raquel Fragoso Peters, Personal Assistant JosÃ©e BÃ©dard, Special Assistant Meredith Naylor (Atlantic), Special Assistants Visnja Zaborski Breton and Jeff Ryan (Ontario), Special Assistant Tony Grace (Newfoundland), Special Assistant John Alho (Western), Special Assistant PÃ©nÃ©la Guy (Quebec), Special Assistant Karen Dmytryk, Assistant to the Communications Assistant Lucille Way, Assistant to the Legislative Assistant Rosemary McLellan, Assistant to Special Assistant Jean-FranÃ§ois Lauzon (Quebec), and Assistant to Special Assistant Natalie LeClaire (Atlantic). Got that? All of them are eligible to a 60-day "separation allowance" equal to their salaries. And speaking of longtime ministerial staffers, Hill people were talking about Tony Macerollo, John Manley's long-time chief of staff last week, and what the boss' big promotion means to the workload on staffers' jobs. I'll be following Mr. Manley's office in the coming weeks, but Mr. Macerollo is known as a smart and politically savvy player. Another person to watch will be former Minister for International Cooperation Maria Minna's former director of communications, Anne Van Dusen. She arrived only last October, replacing Jennifer Wesanko who fled to Environment Minister David Anderson's team. Her reward for putting out all those fires started by Ms. Minna, who will be viewing things from the backbenches from now on, was losing her job. Still without work, Ms. Van Dusen, first cousin of CBC's Julie Van Dusen and CPAC's Peter Van Dusen, is weighing her options from the comfort of her home in picturesque Wakefield, QuÃ©bÃ©c. Former aid runs for office, maybe The sudden departure of former Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray from the Hill has placed one of his former staffers in the hot seat. Everyone wants to know if his former senior advisor, Gary Fortune, plans to run in Windsor-West, Ont., a seat Mr. Gray won for 13 consecutive elections. At least that's the scoop according to Mr. Fortune. "I'm truly overwhelmed by the number of people who have approached me about running," he told The Hill Times. Mr. Fortune, who left Mr. Gray's camp in August 2000 to start up a public affairs management company, would only say that he is "actively considering" running in the upcoming byelection which must be called within the next six months. Currently the president of the riding association, he said Mr. Gray's exit from Parliament took him by surprise. "I didn't think he would retire this week," said the 41-year-old political science graduate from Windsor University who worked with Mr. Gray throughout most of the 1990s and also for a stint in the early 1980s when the elder statesman was industry minister under former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. If Mr. Fortune does run, he may face off against Liberal MPP Sandra Pupatello who is apparently "definitely interested" in running for the nomination. A bit of foreshadowing? In what was perhaps a sign of things to come, former Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions Jim Peterson lost his executive assistant, Karl Littler, before the big shuffle. The day before the announcement, Mr. Littler told The Hill Times that he was leaving Mr. Peterson to work exclusively for Finance Minister Paul Martin. Previously, the 39-year-old had been "cross-appointed" between the two MPs, working part-time as an EA to Mr. Peterson and a senior advisor to Mr. Martin on tax and financial issues. "I had always worked with both," said Mr. Littler. As one of Mr. Martin's key advisers on tax and financial issues, Mr. Littler will be working closely with the Finance Minister on the implementation of the budget. The two began working together in 1993 when Mr. Littler, who has a law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., came on board as his legislative assistant. Meanwhile, Mr. Peterson's new executive assistant is Eugene Lang. He was not responding to calls last week, but his colleagues in Mr. Peterson's office informed The Hill Times he used to work in the Finance Department as a civil servant and before that was a political adviser to former Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray, now chair of the Canadian Section of the International Joint Commission. There's no place like home Of all the ministerial staffer jobs placed at risk by the shuffle, probably the safest belonged to Hill veteran Jerry Yanover, former political adviser to Don Boudria, who was leader of the government in the House but got shuffled to Public Works. Before Ralph Goodale arrived as the new House leader last week, shifting over from Natural Resources, Mr. Yanover had worked with nine other Liberal House leaders. Mr. Yanover, humble though he is, is what you call an expert in Parliamentary procedure which is a definite asset in the House Leader's Office. So it's been quite the streak for Mr. Yanover. His political career with those leaders started back in 1969 when he was hired by then House leader Donald Macdonald. Since then, he's been a permanent fixture on the Hill, working twice with the great and wily Liberal Allan MacEachen who was appointed House leader on two occasions during the 1970s. Mr. Yanover got his start on the Hill as a summer student in 1965 with then finance minister Edgar John Benson during then prime minister Lester B. Pearson's minority government. Reached by The Hill Times last week, Mr. Yanover was pretty confident Mr. Goodale would keep him on as a political adviser. He also quipped he had no indication he'd be "shown the door." The same could be said for his two colleagues, Hugo Dompierre and Linda Brennan, who have also been working for years in the Government House Leader's Office. Mr. Dompierre, who coordinates the House's business, got on board five years ago while Ms. Brennan, a public servant who handles administrative matters, arrived about 15 years ago. Batter up After only one year as Prime Minister Jean ChrÃ©tien's press secretary, Marianne Goodwin has stepped down from the PMO amid speculation she had had enough of the crazy pace. The official word is simply that she's gone and that no replacement has been found yet, giving rise to yet more speculation it all happened very suddenly. Ms. Goodwin, who had worked for other cabinet ministers prior to joining the Prime Minister's Office, travelled with the PM as a flack during the 2000 election campaign. She replaced Randy McCauley last February. Mr. McCauley, infamous for flipping the bird to reporters during Mr. ChrÃ©tien's victory flight to Ottawa during the 2000 election, lasted only about a year in the job as well. Ms. Goodwin came with stellar creditionals. Before her arrival to the PMO, she had done stints as a legislative assistant to Defence Minister Art Eggleton, as special assistant to former Industry minister John Manley, and as policy adviser to former Quebec deputy premier Lise Bacon, who is now a Grit senator. Unlike her predecessor, she got a "to the Prime Minister" tacked onto her press secretary title, suggesting she could have been the "real thing." But that's all ancient history now as Ms. Goodwin is off "to expand her horizons," possibly at the international level. --Paco Francoli's e-mail address is.