National Defence Minister John McCallum has a new assistant for Atlantic Canada in his office. Leigh Lampert started with Mr. McCallum about two months ago. He filled the spot vacated by Mary Kirby who left the office to work for Minister of Transport David Collenette as an assistant on the Atlantic desk. Mr. Lampert is a Moncton, N.B., native who first came to Ottawa in 1995 to study political science at the University of Ottawa. During his stay in Ottawa, Mr. Lampert worked as a page in the Senate for two years and then joined Herb Gray's office in October 1997. Mr. Gray was Deputy Prime Minister at that time. He worked in the correspondence unit of Mr. Gray's office until April, 1998 and then went to Halifax's Dalhousie University for a four-year LLB and MBA program. For the last four summers, Mr. Lampert worked in the constituency office of Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw as an aide in Moncton, N.B. After finishing his degree at Dalhousie University last summer, he found out that Mr. McCallum's office was looking for an assistant for the Atlantic region so he contacted Eugene Lang, executive assistant to the Defence Minister, applied for the job and was hired. While in high school, Mr. Lampert said he never thought he would ever be a staffer on the Hill. He said he always thought about going to McGill University Medical School but changed his mind once he started to work in the Senate as a page. He got a taste for politics and liked it. "I loved working in the Senate. I loved the people that I got to meet and worked with them. I loved being really in the centre of politics, not as a major player mind you, but I was there. At this point, I changed my mind and plans to go to medical school," said Mr. Lampert. "Then I went to law school and assumed that I would be practising law after finishing school but here I am rather than articling, I am here." In his capacity as a special assistant for the Atlantic region, Mr. Lampert is responsible for all the queries coming from MPs and Senators about Atlantic Canada. He will also be looking after Defence files related to Atlantic Canada. Catterall hires a new aide Chief Government Whip Marlene Catterall, who represents Ottawa West-Nepean, Ont., has a new aide to give her a hand in ensuring the attendance of Liberal MPs in the committees and in the House. Natalie Page who has a BA in commerce and international management from University of Ottawa and Ã‰cole Superieure de Commerce, from France is replacing MÃ©lanie Lauzon. Ms. Lauzon is on maternity leave and gave birth to a beautiful eight-pound baby girl named Alexandra last Aug. 17. Ms. Page went to Reins, France, as an exchange student for two years to attend Ã‰cole Superieure de Commerce. Before joining the Chief Government Whip's Office, Ms. Page worked in the Protocol Office/Summit Division at the Department of Foreign Affairs. She joined the department in 1998 at the time of the Summit of Francophonie. Ms. Page joined Ms. Catterall's office last week. At the Francophonie Summit in 1998, Ms. Page was the manager liaison and dealt with embassies of French-speaking countries. She stayed with the Foreign Affairs Department for about four years in different positions. Her last job title at the department was special assistant to the deputy chief of protocol. Her new job title will also be special assistant to the Chief Government Whip. Assistant for Joe Comartin In preparation for this year's fall Parliamentary session, Winsdor-St. Clair NDP MP Joe Comartin, who is also running for the NDP leadership, has hired an experienced legislative assistant. Geoff Hall, a native of Huntsville, Ont., who describes himself as "one of the architects of NDP breakthrough in the 1997 federal election and 1998 provincial election in Nova Scotia" has joined Mr. Comartin's office last month. Before joining Mr. Comartin's office, he worked for Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer until 2000 as a legislative assistant. Mr. Hall's position at Mr. Stoffer's office is still vacant. Mr. Hall told Hill Climbers he joined Mr. Comartin's office because he has a special interest in the environment issue and intends to help his boss who is the environment critic from his party. "The reason why I joined Mr. Comartin's office is that it's a good opportunity for me to be back working on an issue that means a great deal to me. Mr. Comartin is a critic for environment for natural resources and parks," said Mr. Hall. Mr. Hall who has a BA in History from Carleton University worked as an aide for former NDP Leader Audrey McLaughlin in 1991 for about two years in the communications department. Later on, he went to Toronto and worked for then Ontario premier Bob Rae until 1995 as a policy adviser. Before joining Mr. Stoffer's office, Mr. Hall worked in the private sector as a consultant from 1995-2000. As a consultant. Mr. Hall "developed communications and marketing plans for a variety of clients, including a leading software manufacturer, a travel adventure company, the Nova Scotia NDP and the federal NDP." Mr. Hall has replaced Chris Cornish at Mr. Comartin's office who has left the Hill to work for the Association of Canadian Television and Radio Actors (ACTRA). Mr. Hall started to work in Mr. Comartin's office last month. Photo session at Mr. Pettigrew's office International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew's office arranged a photo session for the political staffers last week in his Hill office in the Confederation Building. The last photo session of Mr. Pettigrew's political staffers took place five years ago. Mr. Pettigrew's communications assistant SÃ©bastien ThÃ©berge kindly invited Hill Climbers to take pictures of the picture-taking. Click.