Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and her staff will operate out of the same building as the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa, illustrating how closely she will be working with Justin Trudeau on key files on a daily basis.
Since Mr. Trudeau appointed Ms. Freeland as his second-in-command in November, there have been questions about the scope of her responsibilities and how she will fulfill her new role in the government.
In an internal note sent out on Wednesday, PMO chief of staff Katie Telford told senior Liberal officials that Ms. Freeland’s offices will be located in the same building as Mr. Trudeau’s office at 80 Wellington St., across from Parliament Hill.
Ms. Telford added that Jeremy Broadhurst, the chief of staff to Ms. Freeland, will simultaneously hold the position of senior adviser to Mr. Trudeau in a “cross reporting” position. Ms. Telford said in her note the offices of Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Freeland will be “highly integrated and collaborative.”
After Ms. Telford’s note started circulating inside government, a copy was obtained by The Globe and Mail.
University of Moncton political science professor Donald Savoie, who has written extensively about the inner workings of various governments, said the integration of Mr. Trudeau’s and Ms. Freeland’s offices is unprecedented.
There have been other deputy prime ministers in Canadian history, such as Don Mazankowski under Brian Mulroney and Anne McLellan under Paul Martin, but Prof. Savoie said Ms. Freeland will likely carry even more weight than her predecessors.
“She has a key role to play on a number of files that have traditionally been the purview of the prime minister, such as intergovernmental relations, national unity and relations with the United States,” Prof. Savoie said in an interview. “This Prime Minister has decided to share these files with her, which says a lot.”
In addition to being Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Freeland is Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, which puts her at the heart of efforts to deal with Western alienation. In her mandate letter released in December, Mr. Trudeau also gave her a role to play on issues such as the fight against climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians and health-care reform. While Ms. Freeland is no longer the minister of foreign affairs, she has kept responsibility for Canada-U.S. relations in cabinet.
Prof. Savoie said there is a sense that Mr. Trudeau has decided to step away from the limelight after the Liberals were reduced to a minority on Oct. 21, and that Ms. Freeland will “be getting a lot of visibility.”
Ms. Telford’s memo lays out the roles and responsibilities of other members of the PMO, which has undergone a series of changes since the election.
Some of the biggest responsibilities fall under Brian Clow, a veteran of the PMO who is now responsible for issues management, parliamentary affairs and Canada-U.S. relations. His new role in parliamentary affairs is particularly crucial as the Liberals are in a minority situation and need the support of at least one opposition party to adopt any new piece of legislation.
Another key PMO official is Ben Chin, who will oversee communications and will be involved in files such as intergovernmental affairs, budget planning and the completion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. Mr. Chin is the former chief of staff to Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
A member of the PMO – senior adviser Sarah Goodman – will now be based out of Vancouver, from where she will play a leading role on the government’s climate agenda. The federal Minister of the Environment Jonathan Wilkinson is the MP for North Vancouver.
Another senior adviser, Olivier Duchesneau, will be in charge of relations with the Quebec government of François Legault. He is also the PMO’s point person to deal with chiefs of staff to all cabinet ministers.