Beset by bad polls, Wynne calls in a 'fixer' from Ottawa

Trailing badly in the polls, Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is calling on some campaign help from the federal side.

Zita Astravas has a reputation as a problem-solver

Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne has called up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trouble-shooter to help her struggling campaign. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Trailing badly in the polls, Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is calling on some campaign help from the federal side.

Zita Astravas is known in Liberal circles as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "fixer." She is taking an unpaid leave of absence as chief of staff to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to work in Wynne's war room starting next week.

Wynne's Liberals are in third place in the polls, with the Progressive Conservatives under Doug Ford in line for a majority win and Andrea Horwath's New Democrats in position to form the opposition. She's in a tough spot — and Astravas has been known to guide her bosses through tough spots in the past.

She was put into the post at National Defence to damage-control the fallout from Sajjan taking credit for guiding a major battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2006. The minister later apologized for describing himself as the "architect" of Operation Medusa — a comment that was frowned upon by a great many serving members of the military.

Prior to joining Sajjan's office, Astravas worked as the director of issues management in the Prime Minister's Office. Before coming to Parliament Hill, she worked as Wynne's press secretary and was seconded to the federal Liberal election campaign in 2015.

Astravas has played major roles behind the scenes in six federal and provincial elections.

About the Author

Hannah Thibedeau

Parliament Hill

Hannah Thibedeau is a veteran political reporter having covered the Hill for more than 15 years, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. She covers politics for CBC TV, CBC Radio and CBC Politics online.