Illustration of Katie Telford

Katie Telford

Chief of Staff

Outsiders tend to assume Mr. Butts sets the strategy and Ms. Telford implements it, but it’s not that simple. While definitely more focused on organizational matters than her “co-CEO,” she also has strong influence on policy and communications discussions. As Mr. Trudeau’s national campaign director, Ms. Telford developed a reputation for favouring data- and results-driven decision-making – a counterbalance to Mr. Butts’s read on Mr. Trudeau’s emotional connections with Canadians. She appears inclined toward a strong degree of delegation, but often to people in whom she has developed a large amount of trust through previous working relationships – reflected in some of the PMO’s other staffing decisions.

Jane Taber reports on Ottawa’s newest major powerbroker PMO’s Katie Telford: ‘People underestimate her, and that has worked to her advantage’

Illustration of Gerald Butts

Gerald Butts

Principal Secretary

With by far the highest public profile of any political staffer in Ottawa, Mr. Butts – a top adviser to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and a close friend of Mr. Trudeau since their McGill days – is commonly assumed to run the government behind the scenes. That’s an exaggeration: He and Ms. Telford are on equal footing and, in some instances, his is just one of several voices, with Mr. Trudeau rejecting his advice when he does not agree with it. Still, nobody other than the Prime Minister himself has had a stronger hand in shaping Mr. Trudeau’s political identity and agenda. Fiercely protective of Mr. Trudeau, and at times combative with journalists and critics, he is both a public and an internal guardian of the government’s narrative.

Illustration of Jeremy Broadhurst

Jeremy Broadhurst

Deputy Chief of Staff

A veteran political staffer who was chief of staff during Bob Rae’s stint as the Liberals’ interim leader, Mr. Broadhurst essentially served as Ms. Telford’s second-in-command during the party’s organizational rebuild leading up to last year’s election, and during the campaign itself. Known as a workhorse, he is reprising something akin to that role in government, including dealing with some of the more nitty-gritty aspects of operational matters. While usually on the same footing as the other senior officials below Ms. Telford and Mr. Butts, he would likely be the person to step in if, for some reason, both were unavailable.

Illustration of Cyrus Reporter

Cyrus Reporter

Senior Adviser

After serving as Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff during his time as third-party leader, Mr. Reporter has now moved into a sort of project-management and trouble-shooting role in which he takes on one major and politically fraught file at a time, helping to co-ordinate government departments. To date, his job has mostly involved serving as the PMO’s point man on the Syrian-refugee file. A long-time chief of staff to Allan Rock when Mr. Rock was in Jean Chrétien’s cabinet, the British Columbia native has more experience working in federal government than anyone else in the PMO’s upper ranks.

Illustration of Mathieu Bouchard

Mathieu Bouchard

Senior Adviser

It has not escaped the francophone media that the PMO is decidedly light on senior staff from Quebec; Mr. Bouchard’s primary responsibility is to make sure the province’s perspective and interests are well represented. Relatively new to federal politics, the erstwhile partner at Montreal law firm Irving Mitchell Kalichman was brought into the fold by friend and former colleague (and now Heritage Minister) Mélanie Joly – assisting with Mr. Trudeau’s debate preparations, among other things, during the campaign. As well as stickhandling Quebec relations, Mr. Bouchard is also the PMO’s lead on legal affairs: roles that will soon converge as the government responds to Quebec’s legalization of medically assisted suicide.

Trudeau adviser Mathieu Bouchard more than just PMO’s ‘Quebec guy’

Illustration of Roland Paris

Roland Paris

Senior Adviser

The lead on foreign policy, Mr. Paris is the only senior staffer to come from the academic world – although he does have experience as a bureaucrat in the Foreign Affairs ministry and the Privy Council Office, where he served during the final years of the last Liberal regime. Subsequently, as the founding director of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies, he penned an open letter last spring to whoever would be the next prime minister. It included calls for increased involvement in United Nations peace operations and other multilateral efforts; a “comprehensive response to fragile states” in the Middle East and elsewhere, with a focus on economic, social and security-related causes of instability; and a greater emphasis on trade with China.

Illustration of Kate Purchase

Kate Purchase

Director of Communications

While some people in her role delegate most media relations to the press secretaries under them, Ms. Purchase – herself a former press secretary who also served as the Liberals’ communications director during the election campaign – has so far been very hands-on in trying to establish cordial relations with journalists. With time, she will likely settle into managing the sizable PMO wing under her watch, while mapping an agenda for policy roll-outs and announcements. As with past communications directors, she will be involved in as many discussions as anyone, save for the chief of staff or principal secretary, and benefits from having a well-established working relationship with both of them.

Illustration of Michael McNair

Michael McNair

Director of Policy

An investment banker who studied at the London School of Economics, Mr. McNair worked as a policy adviser for Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff; he began advising Mr. Trudeau well before the federal election. The big challenge for Mr. McNair and his staff is translating the platform he helped to write into implementable policy. He and Ms. Purchase, who have worked together since the Liberals’ darkest days under Mr. Ignatieff, have a level of mutual comfort that should help them navigate some of the typical tensions between policy aspirations and public buy-in. There is some history of policy directors being marginalized by other staff – a potential concern for Mr. McNair, given Mr. Butts’s strong involvement in most policy files, and an interesting test of how collaborative the office proves to be.

Meet Trudeau’s policy director, who helped Dion write his ‘Green Shift’

Illustration of Zita Astravas

Zita Astravas

Director of Issues Management

While she played a major role in Kathleen Wynne’s office, serving as the Ontario Premier’s top spokesperson, Ms. Astravas has nevertheless made a significant leap. Her job is one of the most stressful in Ottawa, because it often involves putting out fires – or, ideally, trying to prevent them – by making sure the government is not caught off guard by the daily news cycle. Ms. Astravas will have more contact with ministers’ offices than most other PMO staffers, although, with Parliament having sat for only a few days under this government, the routine for that interaction has yet to be set.

Illustration of John Zerucelli

John Zerucelli

Director of Operations

A young Chrétien staffer who went on to practise law and who recently served as chief of staff to Deb Matthews, president of the Ontario Treasury Board (considered the most powerful minister in Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet), Mr. Zerucelli is known for being the best in the business at running leaders’ tours, including Mr. Trudeau’s in the recent campaign. He will continue to manage the logistics for the Prime Minister’s public appearances, and also will oversee the regional desks that are supposed to monitor and manage the PM’s relations with different parts of the country. This could take on particular importance, given the Ontario-centrism of the PMO’s upper ranks.

Illustration of Dan Arnold

Dan Arnold

Director of Research and Advertising

A transplanted Albertan (he blogs as “Calgary Grit”), Mr. Arnold was lauded by other campaign officials for using advanced polling methods that helped the Liberals tap into, or even predict, on-the-ground trends across the country. His job now is to keep tabs on public opinion from inside government, and try to anticipate how prospective policies are likely to play. While it’s fair to ask whether the Liberal Party, rather than the public, should not be paying for this, the job has existed under previous governments. Where Mr. Arnold may break some new ground is with advertising, where he has to help Mr. Trudeau keep his promise to end partisan ads that are financed by the government.

Illustration of Mary Ng

Mary Ng

Director of Appointments

Another alumna of the Ontario Legislature, and a close friend of Ms. Telford dating back to their time in then-education minister Gerard Kennedy’s office, Ms. Ng must have an unenviable inbox these days: She is charged with helping to figure out who gets what job in the new government. It will be frenetic work in the short term. But even thereafter, there will be enough (at least theoretically) non-partisan appointments – to everything from Crown corporations to judgeships – to keep her busy. It seems she has a seat at the table for key meetings, important given that nobody should have a better knowledge of key personnel and their capabilities.


PMO’s Katie Telford: Who is the most powerful woman in Ottawa?

After Katie Telford chaired Justin Trudeau's wildly successful campaign, he made her his chief of staff

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Trudeau adviser Mathieu Bouchard more than just PMO’s ‘Quebec guy’

As the PM’s top Quebec adviser, the political rookie’s imprint touches every aspect of federal government policy in some way

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Meet Trudeau’s policy director, who helped Dion write his ‘Green Shift’

The adviser who helped Stéphane Dion write his Green Shift policy, will be key to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plans for a price on carbon

Read the article

Illustrations by Jérôme Mireault for The Globe and Mail