Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Despite the Skepticism, I'm Feeling Pumped.

With the arrival of Peter Donolo who started his new job as chief of staff yesterday, there is already a buzz and I have several reasons to feel optimistic.

Reunions can be exhilarating and Jean Chretien can still stir up a crowd.

Mr. Donolo has added some heavy hitters to the team, and he knows how to get things done.

The Ref-Cons must be feeling a little threatened, because the Harper Hawkers were out in full swing this weekend. A column in our local (Sun media) paper by Michael Den Tandt read like an Ignatieff attack ad. And surprisingly, it didn't bother me.

I've decided that the only way we can get Harper out before he sells us off completely, is to believe in something and someone. It's not good enough to simply expose Stephen Harper for who he really is, we have to offer a viable alternative. Mr. Ignatieff is a remarkable alternative.

After reading his Massey Lectures, I knew that he had the right vision for Canada.

November 17, 2009
Changes in Ottawa
Andrew Steele

The following is an email sent by new Ignatieff Chief of Staff, Peter Donolo.

Dear Liberal Colleagues,

Today is my first day on the job as Chief of Staff in Mr. Ignatieff’s office and I am delighted to be back on the Hill and part of the Liberal Team.

As Mr. Ignatieff has said, we have a lot of work ahead of us to earn the confidence and support of all those Canadians who want a strong alternative to the Harper Conservatives. I look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder with all of you – and with Liberals across Canada - in the months ahead in earning that support.

Indeed, as with any winning effort, to succeed we must work as a team, a disciplined and determined team. To that end, I am very pleased to announce the new senior staff compliment in the OLO. This is a very seasoned group of proven individuals with a wide breadth of experience in politics and the wider public sphere. Moreover, as you will see from the organization chart, the emphasis will be, as it must, on clear lines of authority and responsibility as well as accountability for execution and results.


Principal Secretary – Jean Marc Fournier

Jean Marc was the Liberal Member for the riding of Chateauguay in the Quebec National Assembly from 1994 to 2008. He served, respectively, as Opposition Whip and, later, as Minister of Municipal Affairs, Minister of Education, Minister of Revenue, and House Leader in the governments of Premier Jean Charest. After deciding not to seek re-election in 2008, Jean Marc was a senior advisor to Mr. Charest in the election that saw the Charest government return to majority status. As Principal Secretary, Jean Marc will provide senior strategic counsel to Mr. Ignatieff.

Chief Operating Officer – Patricia Sorbara

Pat is one of the most experienced Liberal organizers and logistics experts in Canada. She was a senior member on the staffs of Ontario Premier David Peterson and his ministers. She served as Chief Returning Officer for the Liberal Party of Canada in the hard-fought 2006 Leadership Convention. In 1997, Pat co-founded Advanced Utility Systems, a software company she very successfully built and later sold in 2006. As COO, Pat will be responsible for the entire operations of the OLO, with all directors reporting to her. She will report directly to me.

Director of the Liberal Caucus Research Bureau and Senior Policy Advisor to the Leader– Brian Bohunicky

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Brian served in the Chretien government as an aide to Lloyd Axworthy and as Chief of Staff to David Anderson during the latter’s time both as Minister of Fisheries and Minister of Transport. He has worked in provincial and federal Liberal campaigns in both Manitoba and British Columbia. Since 2000, Brian has been a public servant in four successive departments, most recently Agriculture Canada. Brian also holds a Rhodes Scholarship from Oxford University. In his new capacities, Brian will hold two roles: As Director of the LCRB, he will report to the Liberal Caucus Executive, as Senior Policy Advisor to the Leader, he will report within the new OLO structure.

Director of Communications – Mario LaguĂ«

Mario served as a communication aide to Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa and as Quebec’s representative in Venezuela and Mexico. In the Government of Canada, Mario has been DG Communications in Inter-Governmental Affairs, and he served for five years as ADM Communications in the Privy Council Office – the highest communications function in the federal public service. In 2004, Mario served as Director of Communications for Prime Minister Paul Martin. He subsequently served as Canadian Ambassador to Costa Rica, and most recently, as head of global communications for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest environmental organization, based in Switzerland. Mario will hold responsibility for all OLO communications, including the Press Office.

Director of Operations – Sachin Aggarwal

Sachin has been in the OLO since 2008. He was National Director of Operations in Michael Ignatieff’s 2006 leadership campaign and managed Mr. Ignatieff’s two successful campaigns for Parliament in Etobicoke Lakeshore in 2006 and 2008. Prior to joining the OLO, Sachin practiced corporate law at Torys LLP in Toronto.

Director of Legislative Affairs – Jeremy Broadhurst

Jeremy has been in the OLO since 2006. He has served as senior policy advisor under Liberal leaders Bill Graham, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. Jeremy entered government in 2004, when Mr. Graham was Defence Minister. He also boasts practical political experience, serving as Mr. Graham’s campaign manager in the 2004 and 2006 elections. Jeremy holds a law degree from the University of Toronto, and was an associate with the law firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg in Toronto. Jeremy will be the OLO lead on all matters pertaining to Parliamentary strategies and tactics, working in close coordination with the Opposition House and Senate Leader’s offices.

Caucus Liaison – Karen Redman

Karen was MP for Kitchener Centre from 1997 to 2008. She has served as both Chief Government Whip and Chief Opposition Whip, as well as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the environment. In her decade on the Hill, Karen was one of the most respected and hard-working Members of Parliament in Ottawa. Karen is already nominated to be the Liberal candidate in the next federal election. Her strong and deep ties with her former – and future – caucus colleagues will ensure maximum coordination between the OLO and MPs and Senators.

Party Liaison – Heather Chiasson

Heather has been involved with the Liberal Party since the early eighties. She has been a member of the National Executive, representing Atlantic Canada. Since 1992, Heather has been a constant and steadfast presence at the LPC National Office, first as a volunteer, later as a staffer. Heather has also been vice chair of a crown corporation for 8 years and has also served on a variety of NGO and Community Boards. In her new role, Heather will serve as a link for the OLO – and, importantly, for Mr. Ignatieff personally – with the National Office, the National Campaign Committee and active Liberals across Canada.

Executive Assistant to the Leader – Jim Pimblett

Jim served as EA to Prime Minister Paul Martin from 2003 to 2006 – the perfect, high-pressure, high-performance experience for his OLO responsibilities. Prior to joining Mr. Martin’s staff, Jim was Director of Tour and Events in the office of then-Ontario Opposition Leader Dalton McGuinty. He has an MBA from Queens University and was working as a management consultant prior to joining the OLO. Jim will travel with Mr. Ignatieff and be responsible for Mr. Ignatieff’s schedule.

These appointments, with one exception, are effective immediately. Brian Bohunicky will join the team on December 7.

In Michael Ignatieff, we Liberals have a leader of truly international standing. He understands the huge, long term economic challenges our country is facing – and the tremendous human cost they are already exacting across Canada under a callous, uncaring, incompetent government.

And he knows that our future depends on innovative thinking and caring, engaged leadership to enable our country to secure the industries and jobs of tomorrow - and the prosperity and the strong, vital social programs that go with them.

Our job in the OLO is to help Mr. Ignatieff and his Liberal Team across Canada bring that message of hope and change to Canadians in the months ahead.

Peter Donolo

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