Meet the man Justin Trudeau hired to clean up his image

Max Valiquette has spent decades in the marketing sector and comes armed with expertise in ‘understanding Millennials and Generation Z’

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Amid slumping poll numbers, Trudeau has appointed a new executive communications director with expertise in “understanding Millennials and Generation Z.”

A recent Abacus Data survey revealed that Millennials are now almost twice as likely to support Conservatives over Liberals, while 32 per cent of Generation Z currently favours Conservatives, compared to 24 per cent for Liberals.

Max Valiquette will likely be tasked with trying to reverse those trends. Valiquette founded Youthography, a Toronto-based youth market research company, and also worked with Bensimon Byrne, a Toronto-based advertising agency.

Canada’s largest independent advertising agency, Bensimon Byrne has counted both the Liberal Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Ontario as clients.

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In a career spanning two decades, Valiquette has also worked with brands like Nike, Budweiser and Coca-Cola and earned accolades for his anti-smoking campaign, The University of Ottawa educated Valiquette was named one of Marketing Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in Canadian Communications in 2005.

Valiquette is also a lauded keynote speaker, covering topics like adapting to the future of work and decoding the potential of Generations Y and Z. Trudeau has called him a “don’t miss” speaker.

“I write and consult, run focus groups and workshops, conduct and (analyze) research and create brand plans,” Valiquette’s personal website previously noted. “I’ve worked with big brands and tiny companies, governments and not-for-profit. I focus on modern consumers, the youth market, and new media.”

What does the role entail?

The Director of Communications in the Prime Minister’s Office is one of the most senior roles in the PMO, reporting directly to the prime minister and their chief of staff.

The role includes speech writing, creating communication packages and responding to government controversies, among other duties.

Directors of Communications in the PMO rarely stay in the role beyond a year.

What’s the salary?

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While there’s no publication information about the executive director’s salary, the typical salary for directors of communications in the PMO is about $131,500 per year but can range from about $103,000 to more than $166,000 annually.

National Post has contacted the PMO for a comment on salary and will update if we hear back.

Who else has shaped Trudeau’s messaging?

Several notable individuals have worked in key communications and related positions in Trudeau’s cabinet, including Kate Purchase, who was a key figure in his team for six years.

Purchase left her position in 2019 to take on a senior role at Microsoft. Described by Maclean’s magazine as the “narrator” of Trudeau’s messaging during the 2015 campaign, Purchase was said to play an instrumental role in crafting his speeches.

Purchase exited the PMO following the resignation of Gerald Butts, a close friend and longtime advisor to Trudeau.

Serving as the Principal Secretary, Butts was a key strategist who held significant influence on policy and communications. He resigned in 2019 amid the SNC-Lavalin affair but returned for Trudeau’s re-election campaign.

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Trudeau has also worked with Katie Telford, the longest-serving chief of staff to any Canadian prime minister, since the early days of his political career.

Described as “one of the most powerful women in this country,” by Conservative MP Raquel Dancho, Telford got her start in politics at the age of 12, when she worked as a page in the Ontario Legislature, Queen’s Park, for several weeks during the first budget from then-NDP Premier Bob Rae’s government.

In his 2014 book Common Ground, Trudeau praised Telford as “hard-working, tough, honest, and wicked smart,” and part of the “core” of his inner circle.

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