Skip to main content

Bay Street lawyer hired as veterans minister's chief of staff

Simon Doyle

Fred L/The Globe and Ma

A Bay Street lawyer and a senior legal adviser to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne are among the Trudeau Liberal government's most recent hires for cabinet chiefs of staff as the government edges closer to filling the top adviser positions for all 30 cabinet offices.

Christine Tabbert, an executive and legal counsel for Manulife Financial in Toronto, has joined Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr's office as chief of staff, the minister's office confirmed. She is a former partner with Fasken Martineau in Toronto and ran in the 2011 federal election as a Liberal candidate in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. Ms. Tabbert lost to Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant, who won the riding again in October.

According to her LinkedIn page, Ms. Tabbert is also the founding shareholder in a Toronto yoga studio called YogaBe.

Story continues below advertisement

The government is slowly staffing up its cabinet offices as travel and higher-priority demands have got in the way of finalizing staffing decisions for cabinet ministers' most senior managers. Among them are Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, responsible for the Industry Department, who remains without a permanent chief of staff.

Ministers are relying on the public service for advice and support, and some public servants have stepped in as acting chiefs of staff, such as Kelly Acton, a senior Industry Canada official who is serving temporarily as Mr. Bains' chief aide.

The Liberal cabinet ministers are busy dealing with a lot of "deliverables" springing from the party's election platform, said Greg MacEachern, a former Liberal government aide and now senior vice-president with Environics Communications in Ottawa.

The Liberals' sudden rise to power, and the party's availability of talent, may be another factor in how fast it can hire for senior positions. "It's not often that we have in Canada a party that's gone from third place into government," Mr. MacEachern said.

In other recent moves, the Trudeau government has hired new chiefs of staff from the governments of Premier Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.

The Trudeau Liberal government nabbed Ms. Wynne's senior justice adviser, Kirsten Mercer, who started at the beginning of the month as chief of staff to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, the minister's office confirmed.

Ms. Mercer had been Ms. Wynne's justice adviser since 2013, and prior to that was an associate with law firm Davies, according to her LinkedIn page.

Story continues below advertisement

Marci Surkes, a former staffer of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's while he was in opposition, is one of the Liberal cabinet's latest hires as she prepares to enter Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's office as chief of staff, Mr. Goodale's office confirmed.

Ms. Surkes previously worked in the Liberal research bureau on policy and manager of caucus services in 2010 under then-leader Michael Ignatieff. She later moved into Mr. Trudeau's office in 2013 as senior manager of policy, research and planning, according to her LinkedIn page.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau's office confirmed the minister has hired Jean-Philippe Arseneau as his chief of staff, who is coming from the Quebec government. Mr. Arseneau was serving as deputy chief of staff to Quebec Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux.

Mr. Arseneau previously worked as a senior adviser at Heenan Blaikie in Montreal and as a government relations officer for the Quebec government based in New York, according to his LinkedIn page.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote hired Gianluca Cairo as her chief of staff, a former cabinet aide in the Paul Martin government and then a senior adviser to Stephane Dion as Liberal leader.

Mr. Cairo, who started in Ms. Foote's office on Monday, was most recently vice-president of operations at Argus Software in Toronto, a subsidiary of advisory and software company Altus Group Ltd., according to Mr. Cairo's LinkedIn page.

Story continues below advertisement

Maxime Dea, a lawyer and former policy adviser with Canada's mission to the United Nations in New York, is now chief of staff to Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef.

In another hire, Matt Stickney is the new chief of staff to Sport and Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough. Mr. Stickney had been working as associate vice-president at Fleishman Hillard in Vancouver, according to his LinkedIn page, and before that served as a senior aide in the government of B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr's office confirmed the minister has hired Janet Annesley as his chief of staff. From 2009 to 2014 Ms. Annesley was vice-president of communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, a lobby group for oil and gas companies, according to her LinkedIn page.

Before that, she worked as manager of oil sands communications for Royal Dutch Shell in Calgary. Most recently, Ms. Annesley was based in Kingston as director of government relations for Queen's University.

The Prime Minister's Office also remains in the process of getting staffed up. Zita Astravas, a senior aide in Ms. Wynne's government who took leave to work on the Liberals' national campaign, has joined the PMO to work on issues management. Mike McNair, who was working as policy adviser on Mr. Trudeau's team during the campaign, is continuing in a similar role as policy director in the PMO.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter