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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a media availability during a cabinet retreat at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews, N.B. on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Justin Trudeau is putting his stamp on the inner workings of the federal government, choosing a veteran civil servant to be the country's top bureaucrat.

The prime minister has named Michael Wernick as clerk of the Privy Council, replacing Janice Charette, who was appointed to the job in 2014 by Trudeau's Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper.

As clerk, Wernick will fill three roles: deputy minister to the prime minister, secretary to the cabinet and head of the federal public service.

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Wernick, who most recently was Charette's deputy, has served in a variety of senior roles since joining the federal public service in 1981.

Perhaps most significantly for Trudeau, Wernick spent eight years as deputy minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, where he presided over the conclusion of several modern treaties and new self-government agreements as well as a settlement for victims of residential schools.

Trudeau has vowed to establish a new "nation-to-nation" relationship with indigenous peoples, including some ambitious, specific promises to invest in education, end all boil-water advisories on reserves and implement all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation commission.

In a statement, Trudeau called Wernick "an outstanding public service leader" who has "the depth of experience and the skills we need to move full speed ahead on the implementation and delivery of our government's agenda."

He emphasized his Liberal government's commitment to renewal of "the professional, non-partisan public service" – an apparent contrast to Harper, who was criticized for belittling and politicizing the public service.

Trudeau thanked Charette for her "exemplary service to Canada" and for leading the public service "through a difficult period with distinction."

Charette is to remain in the public service as a senior adviser to the Privy Council Office, which is essentially the bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister's Office.

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