Okay, okay – it’s a little bit late, but we had to wait for the latest updates to GEDS, not to mention the latest Langevin gossip to trickle down to ITQ.
First and foremost: longtime (well, relatively speaking) Langevin inhabitant Stacey Gairdner – who not only survived the initial Giornonslaught back in July, but wound up as executive assistant to the leader of the invading forces – has left the building. The onetime right-hand-woman to Laureen Harper is now chief of staff to Lynne Yelich – Minister of State for Western Economic Development. Which, as the Hill Times points out this week, makes her and husband Aaron the first married couple to hold simultaneous chief of staff positions ever — or at least that anyone can remember — which is either totally adorable, or almost a little too cosy, depending on your perspective, especially since her sister is married to PMO communications director Kory Teneycke. Hey, at least they’re not boring innocent civilian spouses senseless with endless afterdinner conversation about the ins and outs of minority government.
Although the Giornolissimo hasn’t yet filled Gairdner’s post, he has hired a new senior advisor: Jay Dorey, who used to handle parliamentary affairs for Treasury Board President Vic Toews, which makes him the perfect person to explain to the one man who can make it happen why the Federal Accountability Act simply has to be amended in order for Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page to be truly independent. (ITQ is assuming we’re all still fans of independence at Langevin, no?)
Speaking of Kory Teneycke, he’s hired a second deputy press secretary, thus freeing up Dimitri Soudas for more important things, like advising the government on Quebec and picking out ties. But the new guy in the office is no wide-eyed Hill neophyte, however: Andrew MacDougall spent two years toiling in the shadows as a senior writer for the perenially publicity-shy Conservative Resource Group. Earlier this year, he attempted to make a break for the private sector, and joined Hill and Knowlton as one of those dreaded lobbyist-types that a previous incarnation of Stephen Harper vowed would never be part of a Conservative government.
Last week, he ditched the handful of registrations – nothing too scandalous, really: the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, the Government of Nunavut, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Proctor and Gamble – that he’d collected during his seven month stint in lobbylandia, and signed on as the newest member of Team Kory (unofficial motto: “Hey, at least we’re trying”). The captain is, of course, a proud CRG alum himself. Fun fact: Newly elected junior mint Peter Kent, spent just over a month on the Hill and Knowlton payroll – as a pr flack, not a lobbyist – before the election call.
Team Kory’s former special advisor David Tarrant has been lured over to the Department of Mysteries – AKA Strategy – along with fellow noviate Michael Winterburn, late of Labour Minister Jean Pierre Blackburn’s office, to study the dark arts of strategic communication under the famously circumspect Patrick Muttart. The newly inducted members were brought in to fill the posts left vacant by Nina Chiarelli, who – along with Muttart’s former aide-de-camp Bob Klager – has fled Langevin for the ministerial outpost of Indian and Northern Affairs, where he will serve as chief of staff to Chuck Strahl, and she’ll handle press secretarial relations. Another former Muttart disciple, Nick Koolsbergen, is now listed as a special assistant to Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt.
Over at Policy — and have you ever noticed that the most powerful PMO branches have the shortest and most nondescript names? — Darrel Reid is still officially in charge, but is actually spending his time over at Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, where he has been reunited with his former fellow Langevinian Jason Kenney as acting chief of staff. Meanwhile, former foreign policy advisor Keith Fountain is now at CIDA; his replacement, Ross O’Connor, hails from Public Works, where he was an advisor to Christian Paradis – no idea where he was before that, but I don’t think he was a holdover from the Bernier regime.
Finally, the Empress of Issues Management, Jenni Byrne, is still queen of all she surveys, which now, includes a not-actually-all-that-new face at the prairie regional desk: Renze Nauta, who up until last month was keeping Bruce Carson company. The Principal Secretary’s office is now a one-man shop, so try to drop by every now and then to say hi, guys. He looks so lonely in his GEDS entry. (Greg McFarlane, who used to sit at the prairie desk, who joins Nick Koolsbergen at Natural Resources.)
That’s it for now, y’all — as always, if anyone has better info, feel free to post it in the comments, or send it along to ITQ.
UPDATE: A reader points out that the Gairdners may not be the first First Couple of Chief of Staffdom after all; at one point during the last government, Philip and Emma Welford simultaneously held the position for Secretary of State Helena Geurgis and Government Whip Jay Hill, respectively. Others have since suggested that there have been several examples of chief-and-chiefetting before this – and there have certainly been many examples of power couples holding positions of parallel seniority in the past.