Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall leaving PMO
PM's director of communications taking a new job in London, England this fall
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief media spokesman and director of communications Andrew MacDougall said Wednesday it is "time to say goodbye" to Parliament Hill.
MacDougall said in a letter to colleagues and contacts Wednesday he is leaving the post and taking a new job in London, England, with a strategic communications firm. He will leave Harper's office after the prime minister attends the G20 meeting in Russia in the first week of September.
MacDougall, who started in the Prime Minister's Office as a press secretary in 2008 and was named director of communications in April of 2012, said in the note that his desire to live and work in London is a long-standing one.
He will be a senior executive consultant with MSLGROUP Publicis Groupe's London office beginning in November, the firm said on its website.
"Andrew's unique combination of political communication, crisis communication, and digital media experience will bring a fresh perspective to our clients as they navigate an increasingly complex communications environment," said Jeremy Sice, CEO of MSLGROUP in the U.K.
MacDougall thanked his colleagues "past and present for showing me the ropes, sharing your knowledge, and imparting your wisdom." He also thanked MPs and wished them continued success.
"Most of all, I am grateful for the prime minister's confidence. It has been a rare privilege to watch firsthand how the prime minister has led Canada through these tough economic times. To have been a small part of this endeavour will forever rank as one of my proudest accomplishments," MacDougall said.
Harper to hire #8
He also gave a nod to the media representatives who hound him every day on Parliament Hill for statements and answers to questions that he provides on behalf of Harper and his office. Showing his sense of humour, MacDougall said in his letter that he wanted to thank the media for an "interesting experience" and joked that he had to say goodbye to reporters or else they would whine about being left out.
The relationship between members of the parliamentary press gallery and Harper's office can at times be testy but MacDougall is widely regarded as having managed it well.
His resignation means Harper will be on the hunt for his eighth director of communications since he was elected prime minister in 2006. Some have held the post briefly, including MacDougall's predecessor, Angelo Persichilli. He held the job for only seven months before resigning.
MacDougall, 38, is one of many staffers to depart from the Prime Minister's Office in recent months. Nigel Wright, Harper's former chief of staff, resigned from that role in May after it was revealed that he was the one behind Senator Mike Duffy's $90,000 repayment to the Senate.
Harper has said he did not know about the cheque that is now under review by the RCMP along with Duffy's housing allowance and other expense claims.
Chris Woodcock, who is identified in court documents as one of a handful of people who did know about Wright's cheque, also left his job in the PMO. He was director of issues management and stepped down last month.
Benjamin Perrin is another person named in the court documents and he left his job as a legal adviser to Harper a few months ago.
MacDougall was in charge of a team of communications staff in the PMO that includes press secretaries, communications officers, strategists and advisers, and a new media and marketing specialist. Harper could choose to promote someone from within the ranks like he did with MacDougall or bring someone in from outside the PMO.
There was no immediate word on who MacDougall's replacement might be.In other notable Parliament Hill staffing news on Wednesday, Chisholm Pothier is returning to Ottawa to work as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's new deputy chief of staff. Pothier is Flaherty's former director of communications who left the capital earlier this year to work in the same role for New Brunswick Premier David Alward. Pothier will resume his work with Flaherty on Aug. 26.