Politics

Finance minister's chief of staff Ben Chin moves to PMO

Ben Chin, the federal finance minister's chief of staff, is moving to the Prime Minister's Office to become a senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Ben Chin attends a press conference following Finance Minister Bill Morneau's speech about the 2019 federal budget in Toronto on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Cole Burston/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ben Chin, the federal finance minister's chief of staff, is moving to the Prime Minister's Office to become a senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Chin's political experience — particularly in B.C., where he was a senior aide to former B.C. premier Christy Clark and helped with two provincial campaigns — is a major reason behind the move in advance of the upcoming election.

British Columbia is set to be a key battleground province in the fall.

Chin is no outsider. He was part of the team behind Trudeau's successful campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2013.

Before that, Chin was part of former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty's administration, along with Gerald Butts, Trudeau's recently departed principal secretary. Ontario is also going to be a major election battleground in October.

Chin came to federal politics as a senior adviser to Finance Minister Bill Morneau in 2017, just as the minister was dealing with the fallout of unpopular small business tax changes.

He was then promoted to chief of staff, a position he held throughout the NAFTA negotiations and the government's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

In joining the PMO as a senior adviser, Chin is not directly replacing Butts. His campaign experience, however, is expected to shore up some of what was lost when Butts left.

He also could be a resource on federal-provincial relations, which have become more challenging for Trudeau since several provinces elected conservative-leaning governments.

Butts resigned amid the SNC Lavalin controversy. Chin's name was also linked to the story after Jody Wilson-Raybould mentioned him as one of the advisers who put pressure on her to consider the consequences if SNC Lavalin was not given a deferred prosecution agreement.

Opposition MPs had wanted to call Chin, among others, to appear before a House of Commons committee to testify on the matter, but the Liberal majority on the committee shut down the inquiry.

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