Significant change at the top of the Canadian public service

By on 12/01/2022 | Updated on 02/02/2022

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced 18 changes in the senior ranks of the public service, with four top-rank officials among those switching departments.

The moves of deputy ministers – the role equivalent to permanent secretaries in the UK and departmental secretaries in Australia – includes Graham Flack, formerly the deputy minister of employment and social development, who has become secretary of the Treasury Board, the principle employer of Canadian public servants, where he replaces the retiring Peter Wallace.

Jean-François Tremblay, ex-deputy minister of Natural Resources, has succeeded Flack as the department head at Employment and Social Development Canada, while John Hannaford, the deputy minister of International Trade before the changes, has stepped into Tremblay’s shoes at Natural Resources Canada. Bill Matthews, formerly the deputy minister of public services and procurement, has moved to the Department of National Defence.

David Morrison, who was foreign and defence policy advisor to the prime minister, has become deputy minister of international trade, while Christopher MacLennan, ex-associate deputy minister of foreign affairs has taken up the role of deputy minister of international development.

Morrison retains his role as personal representative of the prime minister for the G7 Summit, while MacLennan retains his role as personal representative of the prime minister for the G20 Summit.

One associate deputy minister, Paul Thompson, has been promoted to the role of deputy minister – at Public Services and Procurement Canada. He worked previously at the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Foreign affairs moves and more

Three officials have been promoted to the post of associate deputy minister, the second most senior civil service role, from assistant deputy minister posts. Cindy Termorshuizen, who had been assistant deputy minister, consular, security and emergency management, Global Affairs Canada, is now associate deputy minister of foreign affairs. Mala Khanna, has moved from the sub-Saharan Africa branch at Global Affairs Canada to Canadian Heritage. And Paul Samson has been promoted from assistant deputy minister of the programs branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to associate deputy minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Francis Bilodeau, formerly senior assistant deputy minister, strategy and innovation policy sector, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, has become associate deputy minister of the same department.  

And Stefanie Beck, ex-deputy high commissioner for Canada in the UK, Global Affairs Canada, has been appointed associate deputy minister of national defence.

COVID recovery and new advisors

Among other moves announced by Trudeau, Jacqueline Bogden, the former assistant deputy minister, controlled substances and cannabis branch, at Health Canada, becomes deputy secretary to the Cabinet (emergency preparedness and COVID recovery), Privy Council Office.

Daniel Rogers, has moved from his role as deputy chief, foreign signals intelligence at Communications Security Establishment Canada to become associate chief of the Communications Security Establishment.

And four senior civil servants have become civil service advisors to Trudeau. Jody Thomas, the ex-deputy minister of National Defence, is now national security and intelligence advisor to the prime minister; Dan Costello, former assistant deputy minister, international security and political affairs, Global Affairs Canada, is foreign and defence policy advisor to the prime minister; and Philip Jennings, the former deputy secretary to the Cabinet (plans and consultations), Privy Council Office, has been made senior advisor to the Privy Council Office.

It was announced that Jennings will be nominated by deputy prime minister and minister of finance, Chrystia Freeland, and as the next executive director for Canada, Ireland, nine Caribbean countries, and Belize at the IMF.

In addition, Michael Vandergrift now works as deputy secretary to the Cabinet (plans and consultations), Privy Council Office (PCO), in tandem with his current role as deputy minister of Intergovernmental Affairs at the PCO.

All started in their new roles this week, except Beck who will start on 31 January.

At the same time Trudeau announced the above appointments, he also thanked 10 recently retired senior civil servants for their service. As well as Wallace, these included Thao Pham, deputy minister, COVID recovery, Privy Council Office, who was until her retirement a member of Global Government Forum’s Content Advisory Board.  

The 18 new appointments follow Canada’s snap general election which took place on 20 September 2021. Trudeau won a third term as prime minister but fell short of securing a majority government. Trudeau last announced major changes at the top of the Public Service of Canada in August last year, days before calling the election.

Global Government Forum speaks to Michael Wernick about his book, Governing Canada: A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics  

Keep your eyes peeled for Michael Wernick’s advice to deputy ministers, to be published by GGF later this month.

Wernick served as clerk of the Privy Council of Canada, the country’s most senior civil servant, between 2016 and 2019.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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