The Team

Bliss Baker

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Over the past 20 years, Bliss has been an innovator, practitioner and commentator in the Public Affairs arena both domestically and internationally. He has been an advisor to two Prime Ministers, Ministers, and Members of Parliament.

Bliss’ private sector experience includes acting as Vice President of Public Affairs for the Canadian Bankers Association, President of a national industry association in the energy sector and Vice President of Canada’s largest biofuels producer. As a former Board Member of the Sierra Club, Bliss has had a lifelong passion for promoting public policies that protect the environment. Bliss is the founder of the Political Risk Advisory Group that provides private sector clients with political risk analysis on foreign investments. Bliss was a senior advisor in the McGuinty war room in 2003, Chief of Staff to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines in 2003/04 and continues to act as a senior strategist to the provincial government on a variety of issues. His clients include a variety of energy related companies, financial services, agriculture, manufacturing, clean technology providers, healthcare stakeholders and infrastructure related firms.

Bliss completed his undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Economics in Canada and his post-graduate degree at the London School of Economics in 1992. Bliss is the founding partner of Maple Leaf Strategies.

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Dimitri Pantazopoulos
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Dimitri has spent his career in politics and public policy, providing communications and strategic advice based on sound public opinion research.

Dimitri provided public opinion research and managed direct voter contact for the 2013 BC Liberal election campaign and received national accolades as the only pollster to accurately predict the outcome of the provincial election. Dimitri’s extensive research into public attitudes guided the formulation of the strategy and messaging that contributed to the successful election of Premier Christy Clark.

Dimitri previously served in several senior roles for BC Premier Christy Clark. After joining Ms. Clark’s successful leadership campaign team, Dimitri served as Principal Secretary, working on long-term issues and priorities on behalf of the Premier. Dimitri later assumed the title of Assistant Deputy Minister, Intergovernmental Relations and Trade where he managed relationships with domestic and international governmental officials and oversaw trade missions on behalf of the Premier.

Dimitri established his early credentials in politics with the Reform Party from 1991-1993 where he worked in a public policy research capacity for Preston Manning. Based out of Washington, DC from 1994 until 1999, Dimitri served as Partner with the Republican polling firm Market Strategies where he advised clients including Edison Electric Institute, PhRMA, and The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Upon his return to Ottawa in 2000, Dimitri led the influential public opinion research firm Praxicus Public Strategies where he advised clients including Stockwell Day (2001-02) and Stephen Harper (2002-07).

Dimitri is a native of Ottawa, Ontario and graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. Dimitri is a partner of Maple Leaf Strategies.

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Gordon Quaiattini
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For nearly 20 years Gordon Quaiattini has been one of Canada’s leading government relations specialists and a veteran political insider at the federal and provincial levels of government. Most recently, Gordon was President of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA) – acting as both the lead lobbyist and national media spokesperson for the renewable fuels industry in Canada. Gordon was instrumental in successfully advocating for a national renewable fuels strategy for Canada that included the passage of legislation mandating the use of ethanol and biodiesel, the development and implementation of renewable fuels regulations and the establishment of capital and producer incentive programs valued at nearly $3 billion at the federal and provincial levels of government in Canada.

Prior to joining the CRFA, Gordon was a founding partner of The Wellington Strategy Group, a boutique Ottawa government relations firm. Mr. Quaiattini also previously worked in federal and provincial politics as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree in Political Science from Laurentian University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Carleton University.

Gordon has represented a variety of corporate clients in a variety of industries including Agriculture and Agri-Food, Aquaculture, Biotechnology, Broadcasting, Cultural Industries, Energy/Renewable Energy, Healthcare, Information Technology, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, Public-Private Partnerships, Telecommunications amongst others.

Gordon has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Lobbyists in Canada (Hill Times) in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Gordon is a founding partner of Maple Leaf Strategies.

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Ian Todd
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For over twenty-five years Ian has distinguished himself as a public affairs expert at the most senior corporate and political levels in Canada. He has extensive leadership experience in government relations, communications, media and stakeholder relations, issues and crisis management, and complex tour logistics and event management.

During the early 1990’s, Ian led a team which successfully built a new federal political party organization in British Columbia and the Yukon, responsible for 33 federal ridings. Ian was then assigned to the role of Executive Assistant and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Hon. Preston Manning, a position he held for almost a decade. In 2000, Ian was appointed Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Official Opposition.

In 2004, Ian returned to British Columbia and served as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Provincial Revenue and Small Business, and in the British Columbia Premier’s Office, the Chief of Staff to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

In 2006, Ian once again returned to Ottawa and served as Chief of Staff to two federal Cabinet Ministers, in three different portfolios – Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development, and Canadian Heritage.

In 2009, Ian entered the corporate sector with Alberta’s largest utility, ENMAX, in the role of Vice President, Government and Media Relations, also as an Officer of the company he was a member of the Executive Committee.

Ian is one of the leading tour and events experts in Canada. He has senior campaign management experience, serving on the Leader’s Campaign Tour for seven federal elections. Most recently, based in Ottawa, serving on the senior management campaign team, acting as Director of the Prime Minister’s 2015 National Tour. Earlier in 2015, he was the Director of the Alberta Premier’s Provincial Campaign Tour. During the 2008 and 2011 federal elections, Ian was a Co-Director of the Prime Minister’s National Tour.

Ian is a Partner of Maple Leaf Strategies. He is Co-Founder and President of Canada 150 Give Back, a not-for-profit national movement founded to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

He is a proud fourth generation Albertan and resides in Calgary.

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Phil von Finckenstein
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Phil is a public affairs expert who is well-known for developing innovative approaches to getting results. He specializes as strategic counsel to c-level executives of some of the world’s leading and most innovative companies. In that role he has developed a track record of success in building and delivering clear, concise and compelling campaigns in Canada and the U.S.

In over twenty years as a public affairs professional, Phil has served national leaders in areas as diverse as biotechnology, education, energy, environment, finance, renewable energy, mining, media, public policy, and softwood lumber. He also counsels leading federal and provincial elected officials on policy, strategic communications, media management and crisis management.

Formerly the Director of Communications for Canada’s Leader of the Official Opposition, Phil developed his leadership skills in senior roles on Parliament Hill and national marketing experience as a senior campaign aide in two federal election campaigns.

As the son of a Canadian diplomat, Phil was educated on four continents. He holds a degree in History & Political Science from McGill University, and has completed Executive Education courses at Harvard Business School and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Executive program.

He is a member of the Board of the Ronald McDonald House of Ottawa and the Ashbury College Foundation. Phil and his wife Vanessa have five children. Phil is a founding partner of Maple Leaf Strategies and is a Hill Times ‘Top 100’ Lobbyist.

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Hon. Rick Bartolucci, External Advisor

Rick Bartolucci
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Rick joined Maple Leaf Strategies in June 2014 as an outside advisor to the firm. Rick will provide the firm and its clients with outstanding advice based on an exemplary career with an unblemished record of public service. As an elected official Rick served as a Minister in the McGuinty government for over 10 years and served as Chair of Cabinet for three years between 2010-2013.

Rick Bartolucci was re-elected into the riding of Sudbury in 2011 for a fifth consecutive term, and has served as Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of Cabinet since 2011 until the recent provincial election. Bartolucci first served as MNDM Minister from 2003 to 2007. During that time he initiated an overhaul of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to focus on job creation for northerners.

As Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing from 2010-2011, Bartolucci introduced Ontario’s first-ever Affordable Housing Strategy, and passed supporting legislation that received all-party endorsement in the Legislature. Bartolucci served as Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services from 2007 to 2011, during which time he oversaw the revamping of Ontario’s death investigation system to ensure stronger accountability to Ontarians. Also during his tenure at MCSCS, the strongest animal welfare legislation in the country, the Provincial Animal Welfare (PAW) Act, became law.

Prior to entering provincial politics, Bartolucci served at the municipal level as Sudbury’s deputy mayor and as chair of the City of Sudbury Budget Committee and Grievance Committee, and the Sudbury Regional Police Services Board’s Complaint Committee. He was an educator for 30 years.

Political Career Highlights:

  • MPP Sudbury, 1995 – June 2014
  • Chair of Cabinet 2011-2014
  • Minister of Northern Development and Mines 2011-2014
  • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 2010–2011
  • Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 2007 – 2010
  • Minister of Northern Development and Mines, 2003 – 2007,
  • Municipal Politics: Ward Councillor, Deputy Mayor, Sudbury, Chair of Police Services Board

Alison (Ouellet) Matthews, Senior Consultant (Toronto)

Alison (Ouellet) Matthews
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Alison is a seasoned political insider who boasts a thorough understanding of government, its players and the decision making process that supports it. Her past work and current clients make her a specialist in the federal environmental, agricultural and cleantech sectors – working closely with stakeholders in both industry and government at all levels.

Alison began her career as a political aide to two federal Members of Parliament and held a key national outreach position with a major federal political party, which included rebuilding a national internship program from 30 students to 100 annually. She then moved to the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association as the Director of Government Affairs where she was a key player in securing the implementation of new national renewable fuels regulations.

Prior to joining Maple Leaf Strategies, Alison provided public affairs services to an industry association and not-for-profit foundation whose complex issues required her to draw on her broad experience in strategic planning, research, event management, and media relations. Alison specializes in caucus relations with a proven ability to work with the right decision makers at the right time to turn strategic objectives into real outcomes. She has also been part of a number of federal and provincial campaigns.

Coming from a military family, Alison found it natural to work for the True Patriot Love Foundation, a charity that raises money for military families, developing communication and disbursement strategies, managing events, developing a website and handling stakeholder relations.

 

Brooke Pigott, Senior Consultant (Vancouver)

Brooke Pigott
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Brooke brings a new breadth of expertise and client focus to Maple Leaf’s public opinion research practice. Her client-focused approach, attention to detail, along with her extensive industry expertise is unmatched in the research industry.
 
Through her career, Brooke has conducted research in every province, territory, and has researched issues of national significance, working on every aspect of public opinion research design, execution and analysis.
 
Brooke has experience working with a wide range of stakeholders, providing insights and recommendations to top-level representatives of governments, companies, associations and non-profit organizations. She provides clients with thorough analysis, actionable recommendations and strategies to deal with a variety of issues.
 
Prior to joining Maple Leaf Strategies, she held the position of Director of Market Research in the Prime Minister’s Office where she implemented a government-wide research plan including the communications of eight annual federal budgets. She also developed and executed the campaign research strategy for the successful 2011 federal election that led to a majority government. Prior to her time in government, Brooke worked in an international research firm serving clients from various sectors in both Vancouver and Ottawa.
  
Brooke holds a BA and an MA from the University of Calgary with academic work published on demographic insights and methodology.
 

 

Giancarlo Drennan, Senior Consultant (Toronto)

Giancarlo Drennan
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Giancarlo offers clients a range of government relations, public affairs and communications experience that spans both the public and private sectors. Politically he has worked at both the municipal and provincial level. Giancarlo first worked at Toronto City Hall as an advisor to a City of Toronto Councillor. He then moved to Queens Park as a Stakeholder Relations Advisor to the Attorney General of Ontario. As the Ministry of the Attorney General regulates certain professions, Giancarlo dealt with various non-profit stakeholders and professional organizations that included the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police Association. He left Queens Park as a Communications Advisor to the Attorney General of Ontario joining Bentham & Associates and now Maple Leaf Strategies. Giancarlo has an extensive knowledge of research, strategic communications, event planning and the legislative and political decision-making process. He has also been a part of a number of federal, provincial and municipal campaigns.

Prior to working in government, Giancarlo gained experience and knowledge of the importance of customer service and finance while working in the banking sector. Giancarlo has an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of St. Michael’s College School.

 

Jon Telch, Senior Consultant (Toronto)

Jon Telch
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After earning a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University, Jon worked as a Special Assistant to a Member of Parliament in Ottawa. His duties included speech writing, research for the MP’s committee and other responsibilities, strategy and supporting the organization of receptions.

Feeling the need to grow his knowledge and skills, he then traveled to the United Kingdom in 2011 in order to complete his Master’s of Science in Politics & International Relations at the University of London. After graduating in 2012 with honors, Jon returned to Toronto to begin consulting. Since then Jon has supported healthcare files at the provincial level, as well as First Nations communities and organizations at both the provincial and federal levels. Jon has also studied and contributed to local civil society capacity building in Rwanda.

Through his past work Jon came to the realization that certain organizations were underserved by consultants, the desire to ensure those organizations could access a consultant lead Jon to found Common Ground Consulting before joining Maple Leaf Strategies. As an independent consultant, Jon has managed several files including the political strategy and government relations aspects of a campaign to end child poverty in Canada. Always feeling the need to serve the community at large Jon has been a board member and political strategist as a volunteer at the Jewish Refugee Action Network (JRAN) and through his role been published in the Montreal Gazette. In 2016, Jon was published in the Journal of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility Protect on the subject of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and Canada’s international legal commitments under the Responsibility To Protect (R2P) Principle. Also in 2016, Jon was appointed as a Junior Fellow of the Canadian Centre For The Responsibility To Protect. Jon’s clients include a variety of companies from various sectors and non-profit organizations.

 

Joshua Ng, Associate (Vancouver)

Joshua Ng
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Joshua is the Maple Leaf Strategies Associate responsible for research and policy analysis. He specializes in public administration and regulatory reform.

Prior to Maple Leaf Strategies, Joshua interned at the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program in Washington, DC. In this role, he aided senior scholars in researching matters related to American health care reform, corporate governance, and the adverse economic impacts of corruption. Before Brookings, Joshua spent a summer in Ghana where he interned at the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, a non-governmental organization advocating on behalf of disenfranchised groups. Joshua was involved with the organization’s advocacy campaigns and in researching the country’s discriminatory health policies.

Joshua is a double grad from Queen’s University. He first graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in philosophy and political science, and then with a Master of Public Administration. In his spare time, Joshua can be spotted at the gym doing deadlifts while listening to his favourite philosophy podcast.

 

Julian Warrick, Senior Consultant (Toronto)

Maple Leaf Strategies website photo - Julian

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Beginning his career in politics and public policy in 2007, Julian has distinguished himself as a trusted advisor and political insider with a thorough understanding of government culture and the political thought process.

Julian has served as a policy advisor and strategist for two leaders of the Official Opposition, as well as several Members of Provincial Parliament in Ontario, where he accumulated high-profile policy, crisis management and negotiation experience. His varied stakeholder relations and policy background includes work spanning the energy and infrastructure sectors to post-secondary and labour.

As a former senior aide to the Opposition House Leader and Chief Whip he is well versed in the legislative and regulatory process in Ontario with years of experience developing strategic plans in committee and the legislature.

Julian has a proven track record of effective campaign organization having successfully executed dozens of simultaneous media events for the 2011 provincial campaign, and facilitated the modernization of public outreach techniques in the 2014 campaign.

His experience includes successful election campaigns at the municipal, provincial and federal levels where he has provided communications, organization and policy advice.

A native of Toronto (Etobicoke), Julian completed his political science undergraduate degree at Concordia University in Montreal where he met his wife.

Jun Shi, Accounting & Office Manager (Toronto)

Maple Leaf Strategies website photo - Jun

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Jun is the accountant and office manager of Maple Leaf Strategies Inc. She facilitates the operating of our office: providing all accounting and financial reports, liaising with all partners, and maintaining customer relationships in high credence services.

With 10+ years of accounting in multiple industries within Canada and internationally, Jun is an accounting professional with extensive experience within both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Before joining Maple Leaf Strategies she worked with several public accounting firms where she handled multiple divergent clients’ accounting and corporate taxes (ranging from manufactory, foods and beverage processing, agricultures, retail, and services).

Additionally Jun has experience as a professional accountant in China before immigrating to Canada. She was accounting manager at Nippon Express in China. She received her education at Nankai University in Tianjin, China. Upon arrival to Canada she continued her education and graduated from University of Windsor with Bachelors (Honours) of Business Administration. Currently Jun is a CPA, CGA finalist.

She is a goal-oriented team leader and a professional accountant, who helps shareholders to develop strategies and achieve their financial and business goals. When not in the office Jun enjoys volunteering at the local public school as the parent council treasurer, teaching Mandarin, traveling, and sharing Chinese culture with her family and friends.

 

Kellie Major, Senior Consultant (Ottawa)

Kellie Major
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Kellie is an innovative public affairs, communications and media relations expert with 20 years of senior level client experience across Canada. She has a track record of success in delivering focused and inspiring campaigns for both private and public sector clients.

Beyond an a well established practice in workplace and employee communications, Kellie has worked with a variety of local, national and global clients in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, information technology, government, manufacturing, real estate, banking and defence sectors. Clients rely on her skills related to stakeholder engagement, media and public relations, crisis and issues management and writing and editing. She is also a trained media spokesperson, executive presentation coach and frequent facilitator.

Kellie’s strengths lie in her ability to identify a client’s targeted communications objectives which she strategically aligns to their key operating objectives. She helps her clients maximize their communications resources by first identifying accurate stakeholder audiences, and then tailoring messages and creative tactics to reach maximum benefit.

With a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) from Carleton University, Kellie first served in the federal political arena for more than ten years, including a role as Director of Communications for the Liberal Research Bureau and as the Director of Communication for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. She also spent five years as an account director with one of Canada’s largest public affairs and public relations firms. Kellie also delivers several communications training programs.

Kellie currently volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, Elmwood School for Girls and serves as a mentor for Dress for Success Ottawa. She and her husband Warren also served as foster parents and volunteers with the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society.

Kim Doran, Principal (Vancouver)

Kim Doran

Kim Doran is a recognized expert in public affairs, government relations and community engagement having worked at all levels of government through her career spanning over two decades.

Kim has specific expertise in regulatory matters and community engagement at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government. She possesses a deep knowledge of the machinery of government at the federal government level with experience in the areas of financial services, social finance and legislative and regulatory affairs.

Community engagement is an important part of the public policy process. Kim works to design and implement stakeholder engagement and consultation programs. Kim has worked as part of a community relations team on a major energy infrastructure project. She believes that public participation is an essential foundation of public policy formation.

In addition to her extensive experience in public affairs consulting, Kim served as the Deputy National Director (Policy and Organization) for the Liberal Party of Canada. Her experience was tapped in 2005 to develop and implement a national policy process that culminated at the 2006 Leadership and Biennial Convention. The Convention was the largest delegated political convention in Canadian political history.

She is a graduate of Queen’s University and has done graduate studies at Carleton University. She will complete a certificate in Advanced Project Management from Langara College in May 2016. She served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of Elmwood School, an independent girls’ school in Ottawa.