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Ontario race attracts Canada’s top political talent

Ontario race attracts Canada’s top political talent
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Like moths to a flame, the best and the brightest in Canadian politics have descended upon Ontario for the upcoming provincial campaign.

Strategists familiar to viewers of political panel shows are helping all three major party leaders in their bids to win the June 7 election.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has again turned to David Herle, key architect of her surprise majority victory in 2014 and a veteran of former prime minister Paul Martin’s campaigns, to run her re-election effort.

Herle, who made headlines last month by saying that Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is “a bit of a dick,” is campaign co-director along with Deb Matthews, a former Liberal cabinet minister and one-time party president.

Heading up operations is Chad Walsh , one of the party’s rising stars, while Michele Cadario — like Herle, a former “Martin-ite” — is serving as a senior adviser. Cadario was a top strategist in former B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark’s campaigns.

Rebecca MacKenzie, Wynne’s executive director of communications, is in charge of campaign communications, while the campaign tour is being run by Mel Wright, who was deputy director of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s successful 2015 election tour.

Just as there are prominent federal Liberals aiding the premier, Ford has tapped veterans of former prime minister Stephen Harper’s campaigns.

Kory Teneycke, who was once Harper’s director of communications and one of the federal party’s best-known spokesmen, is Ford’s campaign manager.

Teneycke, a one-time staffer in Tory premier Mike Harris’s government, was instrumental in Ford’s .

He brought in Jenni Byrne, who ran Harper’s campaigns in 2011 and 2015 , to be director of field operations.

Byrne, a former deputy chief of staff to the prime minister, has Fred DeLorey, another prominent federal Conservative, running Ford’s get-out-the-vote machine.

Michael Diamond — who, along with Teneycke, was indispensable in the improbable PC leadership triumph — is campaign director.

Diamond helped run the victorious 2010 campaign and is a trusted member of the Ford family’s inner circle.

The campaign chair is Dean French, another long-time ally, while Melissa Lantsman, a federal Tory who helped Ford rival Caroline Mulroney in the recent leadership contest, is handling the media.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath revamped her entire operation after a disappointing 2014 election campaign . Horwath brought in Michael Balagus, chief of staff to two Manitoba premiers, to right the ship.

While Balagus briefly stepped aside earlier this year, amid claims he did not take female staffers’ concerns seriously about groping by a male Manitoba cabinet minister in 2011, Horwath welcomed him back three weeks later.

The NDP deputy director in charge of communications is Erin Morrison, who joined Horwath’s office after working for the New Democrats in Saskatchewan for many years.

Morrison’s counterparts atop the campaign are veterans Karla Webber-Gallagher, the deputy director of field, and Marla DiCandia, the deputy director in charge of operations.

Two familiar faces from cable news channel political panels will also be helping out.

Brad Lavigne, a mastermind behind the late federal NDP leader Jack Layton’s historic 2011 campaign and the author of Building the Orange Wave, is a senior adviser to Horwath’s bid.
Read more on Toronto Star
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