Prime Minister Stephen Harper has named columnist Angelo Persichilli as his new director of communications.

Persichilli starts work next week, where he'll set communications strategy for the Prime Minister's Office.

The former Toronto Star and Hill Times columnist doesn't speak French, but is said to be someone who knows the media and understands the relationship between reporters and political staff. He was also the political editor of Italian-language publication Corriere Canadese.

Press secretary Andrew MacDougall will take on a new role as associate director of communications and spokesman for the prime minister. MacDougall speaks French and English.

MacDougall wouldn't speak to Persichilli's hiring.

'We don't comment on staffing," he said.

Outgoing director of communications Dimitri Soudas held his last briefing to the media Tuesday. His last day is Sept. 5.