Michael Wernick

Michael Wernick, who currently serves as the deputy clerk of the Privy Council, will replace Janice Charette as the top bureaucrat in the federal public service. He will help implement Justin Trudeau's ambitious agenda. (Privy Council Office)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is removing another of Stephen Harper's top appointments with the announcement Wednesday that he will promote Michael Wernick to Clerk of the Privy Council, the highest position in the federal public service.

The prime minister's office said Wernick's appointment was part of its efforts to "move forward with the renewal of the professional, non-partisan public service."

The current top bureaucrat, Janice Charette, who had ties to the former Progressive Conservative party, was on the job for 18 months.

"Michael Wernick is an outstanding public service leader. He has the depth of experience and the skills we need to move full speed ahead on the implementation and delivery of our government's agenda," Trudeau said in a statement.

"I believe strongly in the vital role a modern, professional public service plays in our democracy. We will ensure its long history of achievement continues into the future and that its capacity to deliver services to Canadians and advice to government is renewed and enhanced."

Wernick, who currently serves under Charette as the deputy clerk of the Privy Council, has held a number of top jobs in the bureaucracy. He was deputy minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development from May 2006 to July 2014 and a senior advisor to the Privy Council Office from July to September 2014.

Janice Charette

Wernick will replace Janice Charette, who was named to the post 18 months ago.

"I thank [Charette] for her exemplary service to Canada. She has had a long and distinguished career as a dedicated, hard-working and brilliant public servant, and as Clerk she guided the public service through an election year and my government through a seamless transition," Trudeau said of the outgoing top civil servant.  

"Charette led the public service through a difficult period with distinction and Canadians should be thankful for her stewardship."

During his tenure at Aboriginal Affairs, Wernick helped implement the Indian Residential Schools settlement, and concluded a number of modern treaties and new self-government arrangements with First Nations.