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John Williamson, former federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, during a news conference in Ottawa, January 17, 2008. (FRED CHARTRAND)
John Williamson, former federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, during a news conference in Ottawa, January 17, 2008. (FRED CHARTRAND)

Harper shakes up PMO ranks Add to ...

John Williamson, the former director of the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation and one of the people who drafted Stephen Harper to politics in 2002, is set to become the new director of communications for the Prime Minister, PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas says.

Mr. Williamson, who left the federation last September after six years, is finishing a dissertation at the London School of Economics. He is to begin his new role next month. The native of New Brunswick is replacing Kory Teneycke, who announced earlier this summer that he was leaving to take a job that will allow him to spend more time with his young family.

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Mr. Williamson is joining the office just as speculation is building toward a general election in the fall. The House of Commons is to return Sept. 14 and the Harper minority government faces a potential confidence vote at the end of the month. If all three opposition parties support a no-confidence motion, the government could fall.

Jennifer Byrne, probably the most powerful woman in the PMO, is also moving from her job as director of issues management. She is to take over as director of political operations for the Conservative Party of Canada, a job that is to be vacated by Doug Finley, who is bound for the Senate. Jasmine Igneski is to take over Ms. Byrne's position.

The connections between these people are interesting and informative. Ms. Byrne is the girlfriend of Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre, who is the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary. Mr. Poilievre sits on the special bi-partisan working group on employment insurance reform with Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, who is the wife of the new Conservative Senator. The committee was struck by the Prime Minister as part of his negotiations with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff last June. In return, Mr. Ignatieff's Liberals supported the government and avoided a summer election.

 

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