Couillard changes chief of staff; Dufresne is out in top office shakeup

Couillard changes chief of staff; Dufresne is out in top office shakeup
Couillard changes chief of staff; Dufresne is out in top office shakeup

Jean-Louis Dufresne, who has been with Philippe Couillard since the start of the Liberal's 2014 mandate, will be replaced by Jean-Pascal Bernier.

Published on: September 12, 2017 | Last Updated: September 12, 2017 10:55 AM EDT

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, right, accompanied by his chief of staff Jean-Louis Dufresne, centre, and press attache Harold Fortin in February 2017. Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS

One year from the next election, Premier Philippe Couillard has changed his chief of staff.

Jean-Louis Dufresne, who has been with Couillard since the start of the Liberal’s 2014 mandate, has resigned and will be replaced by Jean-Pascal Bernier, 38, who had been Dufresne’s second-in-comand on the bridge.

Couillard announced the news in a statement issued Tuesday.

Couillard had nothing by praise for Dufresne, a personal friend who has been with him for most of his political career.

“Mr. Dufresne is leaving his job but there is no doubt our 40-year friendship will continue,” Couillard said.

Couillard said Dufresne has been a key figure in his administration and played a big role in getting Quebec’s economy and the province’s finances back on track.

Little known by the public, a premier’s chief of staff plays a key political strategic role in any government and acts, to some degree, as the gatekeeper and protector of the boss even if that sometimes means ruffling feathers.

Quebecers go to the polls in October 2018. Dufresne’s departure will be seen as a signal Couillard wants to create some change before the election.

[email protected]

twitter.com/philipauthier

all right reserved for Montreal Gazette

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT Deputy PM forced to deny sleaze claims