All change in Canadian top jobs as election looms

By on 25/08/2021 | Updated on 22/09/2021
Before calling a general election, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced a set of new appointments at top levels of the civil service. Pic by Justin Trudeau

The top of the Canadian civil service has seen major changes this week, including new appointments as deputy clerk of the Privy Council and head of the Privy Council Office.

Following an announcement by prime minister Justin Trudeau in early August – made days before he called a general election for late September – Nathalie Drouin started work on Monday as deputy clerk of the Privy Council and associate secretary to the Cabinet. Previously deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general of Canada, Drouin will be working for interim clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charette – a former civil service chief appointed in March as a temporary replacement to incumbent Ian Shugart while he undergoes cancer treatment.

Drouin has a long service record in legal positions in various organisations. She began her career in 1999, serving as director of legal affairs at the Bureau des Services Financiers in Quebec for four years. Between 2004 and 2012, she worked for the Autorité des marchés financiers, which regulates the financial sector in Quebec, before joining the Quebec provincial government in 2012 as deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general.

Meanwhile the previous deputy clerk of the Privy Council, associate secretary to the cabinet and deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs, Christyne Tremblay, has taken up a new role as senior official at the Privy Council Office.

Tremblay has a long service history – mostly for the Government of Quebec, where in 1999 she became director of strategic planning at the Ministry for International Relations. She has held the position of deputy minister for the provincial ministries of industry and commerce; economic development science and technology; and energy and natural resources.

She was deputy minister of sustainable development, environment and climate change in the government of Quebec from 2015-16, and deputy minister of natural resources for the Canadian government from 2016-2020.

All change

Taking up Drouin’s old job, François Daigle this week became deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general of Canada. The former associate deputy minister of justice becomes the highest official in the justice department, working to the attorney general. Daigle has previously held several posts at the Canadian Department of Justice, starting in 1998 as general counsel at Health Canada Legal Services.

Several of Trudeau’s other changes to the roles of senior officials became effective earlier in the month. Michael Vandergrift, for example, moved from the post of associate deputy minister of public services and procurement to become deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs at the Privy Council Office. He was replaced by Arianne Reza, who was previously assistant deputy minister of procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Dylan Jones is now president of the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada and interim president of Prairies Economic Development Canada, moving from the role of deputy minister of Western Economic Diversification.

Paul Halucha has become associate deputy minister of environment and climate change, having left the Privy Council Office, where he was assistant secretary to the Cabinet for economic and regional development policy.

Scott Jones has moved to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, where he is the federal lead for proof of vaccine credentials, leaving behind his role as deputy chief of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and Communications Security Establishment Canada.

Finally, Paul MacKinnon, currently executive vice-president of the Canada Border Services Agency will become deputy secretary to the Cabinet (governance) in the Privy Council Office from 30 August.


The Canadian government also has a new CIO, with the appointment of Catherine Luelo to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat role on 26 July. Luelo joins government from the private sector, where she’s spent the last two decades as a director – holding briefs including customer relations, sales, distribution and, latterly, IT. Most recently, she spent five years as CIO of energy pipeline firm Enbridge Inc, then four years as senior vice-president and CIO of Air Canada.

Meanwhile Catherine Blewett, a previous deputy clerk of the Privy Council and associate secretary to the Cabinet, has taken up a new job at the Ocean Frontier Institute – Canada’s transnational ocean research hub, run by the Dalhousie Institute – where she will be its first chief strategic engagement officer.  

Blewett had a long career in provincial and federal public service. From March 2019 she was Canada’s representative for the international High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: a group of world leaders committed to finding and supporting solutions for ocean health across policy, governance, technology and finance.

About Catherine Early

Catherine is a journalist and editor specialising in government policy and regulation. She writes predominantly about environmental issues and has held permanent roles at the Environmentalist (now known as Transform), the ENDS Report, Planning magazine and Windpower Monthly, and has also written for the Guardian, the Ecologist and China Dialogue. She was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition 2009, and was part of the team that won PPA Business Magazine of the Year 2011 for Windpower Monthly. She also won an outstanding content award at Haymarket Media Group’s employee awards for data-led stories in Planning magazine. She holds a 2:1 honours degree in English language and literature from Birmingham University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *