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Peter MacKay’s Departing Chief of Staff Calls Hill Years “the greatest experience of my life”

090305-D-9880W-024.JPGIn an email to friends and colleagues earlier today, John MacDonell, the Antigonish-raised lawyer who’s spent the past seven years serving as Conservative Cabinet Minister Peter MacKay’s Chief of Staff, announced he would be leaving his position June 21.

Though he described his Parliament Hill tenure as “the greatest experience of my life,” he said he is looking forward to spending time with his “brilliant and beautiful wife, Jenn Gearey, and being “beau-père” to her three amazing kids.”

Gearey, whose resume includes stints as a communications advisor for MacKay’s Department of Defense, and as Communications Director for the Conservative Party of Canada (for whom she was a candidate in Gatineau in 2011), married MacDonell, a past president of the N.S. Progressive Conservative Association, last November.

Paul McLeod, The Chronicle Herald’s Ottawa Bureau Chief, reports that former Stewart McKelvey lawyer MacDonell will likely resume practising law, this time in the Capital Region.

Here, in its entirety, is John MacDonell’s email:

Dear friends and colleagues,

Several months ago, after completing my seventh year as Chief of Staff to the Honourable Peter MacKay, I advised him that it was time for me to move on to other endeavours, and we agreed I will do so on June 21.

The last seven years have been the greatest experience of my life, and I will forever be grateful to Minister MacKay for giving me this opportunity, for his friendship, his support, loyalty, guidance and advice. He is a great Canadian, a courageous leader, an inspirational boss, and a truly good person. I am proud of my association with him, as am I with the political staff, public servants and Canadian Armed Forces members I have worked with in his offices.

It has also been a sincere privilege to have played a role in standing up the Conservative Party of Canada, as a member of the Party’s first governing body and one of 12 original petitioners to Elections Canada in support of the merger of our two legacy parties. I am honoured to have played a small role in the Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and I sincerely thank my colleagues in the Prime Minister’s Office, in the offices of our Ministers and Members of Parliament, and my Provincial and Territorial counterparts, for their collegiality, mutual support, integrity, friendship and teamwork, as we have worked together in the best interests of Canada. I will continue to work for the Conservative cause, federally and provincially, as I have for the last 32 years.

Minister MacKay has achieved many things, and it was an incredible learning experience to see him secure: the Crown Share for Nova Scotia, the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, the new Nova Scotia Convention Centre, the Halifax International Security Forum, enhanced and improved Atlantic Canada ferry services, the Atlantic Gateway, and to witness his unfailing support for our men and women in uniform in such missions as Afghanistan, Haiti, and Libya, to name just a few. His efforts to protect Canadians in peril by improving our excellent Search and Rescue system are visionary, innovative, and I applaud his focus on these priorities.

I am looking forward to spending time with my brilliant and beautiful wife, Jenn Gearey, and being “beau-père” to her three amazing kids. I will let you know of my career plans in the very near future.

There are many more things I would like to say, and people I must thank, but for now let me just say that the last seven years have opened my eyes to the world, and have made me realize, more than ever, how lucky we are to live in the True North, Strong and Free.

Thank you Peter, thank you everyone.

John MacDonell
Chief of Staff | Chef de cabinet
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Cabinet du ministre de la Défense nationale
National Defence Headquarters | Quartier général de la Défense nationale

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