B.C. Premier Christy Clark has hired a former top aide to Ontario’s Premier as her new communications director in a third attempt to put in place a winning communications team in time for next May’s provincial election.
Ben Chin becomes the latest appointee in a revolving door of staff changes in Ms. Clark’s office that has seen at least three communications makeovers since she took over as premier in February 2011.
Ms. Clark’s first press secretary, former radio and television reporter Chris Olsen, didn’t last a year, and in recent months Ms. Clark’s office has seen the arrival and departure of loyalists to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ken Boessenkool and Sara MacIntyre.
Mike Morton a stalwart of former premier Gordon Campbell who served as Mr. Campbell’s press secretary for much of his first two terms, joined Ms. Clark’s office last summer to help with press secretary service.
Ms. Clark’s Liberals have been consistently trailing the Opposition New Democrats in public opinion polls, but her focus on her government’s job creation agenda has seen the Liberals start to regain some lost ground.
Mr. Chin, who served as Dalton McGuinty’s media-relations chief, is well known across Canada as a journalist with the CBC, CTV and City-TV. Mr. Chin currently lives in Vernon, B.C., and was most recently working as a vice-president and advisor to Air Miles for Social Change.
Mr. Chin’s hiring comes during a government-wide hiring freeze, but officials said the position was a replacement, not a new job.
He replaces Ms. MacIntyre, a former Harper press secretary who arrived in B.C. last spring as part of Ms. Clark’s effort to shore up her government’s right flank to beat back the perceived threat by the B.C. Conservatives led by former federal Tory MP John Cummins.
Infighting among the provincial Conservatives and two spring by-election defeats appear to have done more to diffuse the Tory threat to the Liberals, and Ms. MacIntyre has since been shifted to a government ministry.
Ms. MacIntyre was sent to Vancouver to concentrate on development of political issues in the party offices.
Mr. Boessenkool, a former federal Alberta Tory strategist, handed in his resignation as Ms. Clark’s chief of staff in September after admitting to inappropriate conduct.
Long-time public servant Dan Doyle was recruited to replace Mr. Boessenkool.
Mr. Doyle issued a statement Monday to Liberal staff and Liberal members of the legislature outlining the changes in the premier’s office.
“I’m more confident than ever that our team – all of us together – will be successful over the next few months as we focus on strengthening British Columbia’s economy and strengthening B.C. families,” said Mr. Doyle’s statement.
Other changes include Ken Dawson moving to the premier’s office from the education ministry, and Maclean Kay moving from caucus communications to serve as a communications co-ordinator in the premier’s office.
Jennifer Chalmers, an executive assistant to Mr. Doyle and a communications co-ordinator, takes on manager of operations in the premier’s office.