John Hannaford, a deputy minister and former foreign and defence policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has been named the next Clerk of the Privy Council.
Mr. Hannaford is known in government circles as a public servant who has earned the trust of the Prime Minister, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
The change at the highest level of the public service was announced Tuesday. The government is also facing a likely vacancy in another key public-service position: the role of deputy minister of finance. The Globe and Mail reported last week that the current deputy minister, Michael Sabia, is preparing to depart Ottawa to head Hydro-Québec.
In two separate news releases issued about an hour apart Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau announced that Janice Charette, the current Clerk, will retire from the public service and her position as of June 24.
Ms. Charette is completing her second time as Clerk and head of the public service. She was named to the role in 2014 under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, and she advised the new Liberal government after it was elected in 2015. From 2016 until 2021 she was High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom, before she returned as interim Clerk in 2021, while then-clerk Ian Shugart underwent treatment for cancer.
Ms. Charette became permanent Clerk for the second time in May, 2022, and Mr. Shugart is now a Senator.
“Janice Charette has had an outstanding career as a public servant, which has earned her great respect and recognition both nationally and internationally,” Mr. Trudeau said in a statement. He said he was especially grateful for her advice and leadership during the pandemic.
Prior to Ms. Charette’s retirement, Mr. Trudeau said, she will be appointed a member of the King’s Privy Council for Canada, “to honour and recognize her exceptional contribution to public service.”
Mr. Hannaford is currently the deputy minister of natural resources. From 2019 until January, 2022, he was deputy minister of international trade, and from 2015 until 2019, he was the foreign and defence policy adviser to the Prime Minister in the Privy Council Office (PCO).
He will return to the PCO on June 1 to work on transition planning before becoming Clerk on June 24.
“Mr. Hannaford brings a wealth of experience and a strong reputation to this important role,” Mr. Trudeau said in a statement. “I am confident that his longstanding commitment to serving Canadians will allow him to lead our world-class public service as it continues to implement the Government of Canada’s agenda and make life better for people across the country.”
Mollie Johnson, who is currently the associate deputy minister of natural resources, will assume Mr. Hannaford’s current duties on an interim basis until a new deputy minister is appointed.
Fen Hampson, a professor of international affairs at Carleton University, said Mr. Hannaford will be a steady hand in a challenging position.
“It’s not a job for the faint of heart,” he said.
Prof. Hampson said it is known in senior government circles that Mr. Hannaford is well liked by Mr. Trudeau, because of their many direct interactions when Mr. Hannaford was an adviser at the PCO.
Prof. Hampson said it will be a challenge for the government to have a new Clerk and a new deputy minister of finance at around the same time.
“The timing’s not ideal,” he said. “Those two individuals do have to work closely with each other. So, it’s a new team.”