COC hires ex-Harper aide Soudas
The Canadian Olympic Committee has named Dimitri Soudas, a former spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as its new executive director of communications.
Soudas was Harper’s director of communications and chief spokesman before stepping down on Sept. 5. The 31-year-old first started working for the prime minister nine years ago.
"Dimitri's leadership experience in communications, his background in government and understanding of global affairs, makes him an outstanding addition to our executive leadership team," Chris Overholt, chief executive officer of the COC, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"His work ethic, energy and communications professionalism will help drive our organization and the Canadian Olympic Team brand aggressively forward."
Soudas, a fluently bilingual Montreal native, will be responsible for the overall direction and management of all COC communication activities. He will report to the COC chief marketing officer Derek Kent as of Oct. 1.
''I am thrilled to join the Canadian Olympic Committee and looking forward to working with athletes, NSF’s [National Sports Federation] and leaders like Marcel Aubut, Chris Overholt and Derek Kent and the entire Canadian Olympic Team," Soudas said in the statement.
"I am extremely proud to join this great Canadian organization at such an exciting time in the lead-up to the London Olympic Games in 2012."
In 2010, Soudas made friendly wager with then White House press secretary Robert Gibbs with regards to both the men and women's Olympic gold-medal games between Canada and the United States. After the Americans lost both games, Gibbs made good on his debt and donned a Canadian hockey sweater.
Soudas was also known as a very hands-on and influential member of Harper's staff. A fierce defender of the prime minister, Soudas had at times a rocky relationship with the national media.
But he also found himself the subject of controversy on certain occasions, most recently during the spring election campaign, when he fended off allegations that he tried to influence the appointment of a new head for the Montreal Port Authority.
With files from Meagan Fitzpatrick