Anxiety's end?

At exactly 4:52, public affairs bureau staffers found out the meaning of life...or at least their place in it. In an email, bureau operations and human resources director Denise Champion outlined the agency's organization chart. Most interesting is the addition of a new communications shop - small business and revenue - servicing the desires of Liberal armchair warlord Rick Thorpe, who has long lusted after his own toy company of public affairs soldiers. Tasked with captaining this forlorn hope is Kirk Smith, who formerly worked for meat-eater Rich Coleman at public safety and the solicitor general. Astute readers will remember Minister Thorpe was previously forced to rely on the communications officers at finance for his public relations needs. The following is a complete list of where everyone is now (and where they were previously, in brackets). Unless otherwise noted, all staff are considered public affairs officers.

Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation

Deborah Bowman, communications director (attorney general/treaty negotiation office)
Tonja Joyce, communications manager (attorney general/treaty negotiation office)
David Karn (attorney general/treaty negotiation office)
Andrea McKenzie (employment and income assistance)
Karen Williams (small business and economic development)
Lisa Leslie (sustainable resources management)

Advanced Education

Paul Woolley, communications director
Deb Pearce, communications manager
Kindree Draper
Janis Robertson
Pamela Whelan

Agriculture and Lands

Liz Bicknell, communications director (management services)
Barb Wright, communications manager
Dave Townsend
Tony Kant
Jessica Woodburn (management services)
Glen Plummer (small business and economic development)

Attorney General

Marisa Adair, communications executive director (community, aboriginal and women's services)
Maria Wilkie, acting communications manager (community, aboriginal and women's services, public affairs officer)
Baljinder Jacques
Christina Pederson
Kelly Harris
Alison Giles (community, aboriginal and women's services)

Children and Family Development

Theresa Lumsdon, communications executive director
Kate Thompson, communications manager
Catherine Clark
Duncan O'Brien
Gloria Mendez
Heather Walker
Ian Indridson
Trish Shields
Heather Burns, office coordinator

Community Services

Sarah Harrison, acting communications director (communications manager)
Dave Crebo, acting communications manager (transportation)
Grace Van den Brink
Kathy Vinton
Linda Gold
Rod Deacon

Economic Development

Karen McDonald, communications director
Rena Kendall-Craden, communications manager
Julie Gathercole
Lisa Currie
Marc Black
Janet Stewart (finance/provincial revenue)


Ron Norman, communications director
Jennifer McCrea, communications manager
Carol Swan
Corinna Filion
Natasha Post
Nicole Barnett
Robert Adam
Rachel Holmes
Lisa Gardonio (sustainable resources management, communications manager)
Johane Labonte, office coordinator (finance/provincial revenue)

Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Tamara Little, communications director
Colleen Sparks, communications manager
Barbara Stewart
Jake Jacobs
Christine Wood (finance/provincial revenue)
Liz Wouters (transportation)


Robert Pauliszyn, communications director
Rob Duffus, communications manager
George Collicott
Phil Atkinson
Tara Wilson
Shawna Cadieux

Forests and Range

Don McDonald, communications director
Vivian Thomas, communications manager
Cory Shirshac
Hugh Rose
Julianne McCaffrey
Maria Janicker
Peter Dalton
Heidi Zilki
Trish Fougner (community, aboriginal and women's services)


Carol Carman, communications executive director
Michelle Stewart, communications director
Regan Hansen
Andrea Burton
Caitlyn Sassaman
Gillian Kilshaw
Hartaj Sanghara
Linda Mueller
Rafe Mooney
Rodney Porter
Sarah Plank
Stephen May
Theresa Gebrail
Jennifer King-Jones, junior public affairs officer (offsetting T. Hagen's maternity leave; base position in support services)
Sarah Obee, office coordinator (backfilling B. Hamilton's maternity leave; base position in operations and human resources)

Employment and Income Assistance

Richard Chambers, communications director
Anne McKinnon, communications manager
Michael O'Dwyer
Rachel Nesbitt
Sherri Patterson
Tara Schauerte
Karen Burke (agriculture and lands)


Max Cleeveley, communications director
Dan Gilmore, communications manager
Jim Amos
Suntanu Dalal
Tiffany Akins
Pamela Hafey (children and family development)
Tim Morrison (energy and mines)
David Haslam (Land and Water B.C. Inc.)
Tania Linkes, junior public affairs officer (Land and Water B.C. Inc.)

Public Safety and Solicitor General

Brett Lowther, acting communications director (communications manager)
Chris Gudgeon
Cindy Rose
Donna Sitter
Laurie Drew

Labour and Citizen's Services

Graham Currie, communications director
Gordon Williams, communications manager
Charles La Vertu
Christine Ash
Linda O'Connor
Lisa Brewster (health services)
Jeremy Berry (management services)

Small Business and Revenue

Kirk Smith, director (public safety and solicitor general)
Jon Chant, acting communications manager (writing services, senior writer)
Matt Gordon (energy and mines)
Lisa Tees (finance/provincial revenue)

Tourism, Sports and the Arts

Shawn Robins, communications director (agriculture and lands)
Charles Suenderman, communications manager (management services)
Hope Hickli (forests)
Shannon Marshall (transportation)


Mike Long, communications director (sustainable resource management)
Jeff Knight, communications manager (acting director)
Katherine Grigor
Tim Lowan
Hadyn Thomas (agriculture, food and fisheries)
Michael LoVecchio (sustainable resources management)

Writing Services

Robin Platts, acting senior writer (water, land and air protection)


So, there is like 5 communications staff for each department and only 2 or 3 political staff?

Sounds like the tail wagging the dog a bit.

"So, there is like 5 communications staff for each department and only 2 or 3 political staff?

Sounds like the tail wagging the dog a bit"

The tail is not wagging the dog. All these communications people are political appointees. The Liberals changed this in 2003 I believe.

They are OIC appointments now when in the past they were not. This does not make them political appointments as such.

The change occured at the start of the Liberals term in 2001 as a part of changed approach to communications for government

not political appointees as such ....?

Prior to 2003 communications officials were hired on "merit" through competitions under the laws governing the public service and could only be fired subject to those laws

Today, they are hired and fired by the politicians in Cabinet

In 2003, the whole lot of them were let go with only a subset offered their jobs back if they accepted OIC status - the Premier explained that, contrary to the 1996 and 2001 election promises to de-politicize government, his government was entitled to know that communications officials were on-side

Until coming under supervision of a DM last year, all comm staff reported ultimately to the Premier's Chief of Staff - who is not a member of the public service - the DM was shuffled from there after this election and still has not been replaced

There are a lot of fine people in that group, many of whom have their jobs for reasons unrelated to their open or tacit support of the governing party - but their tenure is that of political appointees ,not public servants

In short, while there are more communications staff than political staff, this is not particularly unusual or indicative of communications trumping politics per se.

Anon: Name any other juristiction or government where this is the case?

Well when you go to the Government of Ontario online telephone directory and type in communications you come up with 842 names and let's say 1/2 of those are communications staff for the government....that's still over 400 people and twice the government's communications staff

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