Ignatieff hires ex-Chrétien PR man as chief of staff

Michael Ignatieff has hired veteran political strategist Peter Donolo to take over as the Liberal leader's chief of staff, CBC News has learned.

Michael Ignatieff has hired veteran political strategist Peter Donolo to take over as the Liberal leader's chief of staff.

Donolo, who will be leaving his post at the Strategic Counsel, a Toronto polling firm, will replace Ian Davey, a longtime Ignatieff supporter.

Donolo was a communications director for former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien.

"Peter will be given carte blanche to clean house and do whatever he needs to do," one source, who asked not to be identified, told CBC News. 

After CBC News reported the story, Ignatieff released a statement confirming the staff changes, saying  Donolo "brings a wealth of experience to this role."

"Ian Davey has my gratitude for his enormous service in building this OLO team, and I am grateful for his continuing counsel. I know that we are a stronger Liberal Party because of his contribution and leadership," Ignatieff said.  

Sources also say the party's next director of communications will be a francophone. 

The changes come as Liberals continue to struggle in the polls and recover from the fallout over the internal dispute over who should get the party nomination in the Quebec riding of Outremont.

Denis Coderre, Ignatieff's former Quebec lieutenant, left his post over the dispute and accused Ignatieff of listening to advisers in Toronto who "know nothing about Quebec."

Ignatieff had initially supported Coderre's choice of Nathalie Le Prohon for the riding but then changed his mind and cleared the way for former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon, whom Coderre opposed, to get the nomination.