Director Of Communications, New Democratic Party of Canada
Apr 2018 – Mar 2019
Ahead of moving to the U.S. I was hired on an interim basis by Canada’s only federal social democratic political party, newly led by Jagmeet Singh, the first person from a racialized community to lead one of Canada’s three major federal parties and run for Prime Minister. My mandate was to strengthen caucus communications leading into a federal election. That included:
- Managing a 25-member team working in media relations, research, digital media, writing, design, and translation;
- Recruiting deputy directors and their team members and building a more positive work environment, leading to higher morale, better collaboration, and a more productive workflow;
- Leading communications strategy on pressing national issues including systemic racism and anti-immigrant attacks, Indigenous rights, and climate change;
- Writing opinion pieces for the party leader;
- Managing crisis communications on sensitive issues; and
- Implementing a disciplined messaging and communications strategy.
National Director, Communications Canadian Labour Congress
Sep 2014 – May 2018
Working for the national labor central body — the AFL-CIO’s Canadian counterpart representing millions of workers — I managed all aspects of communications and many campaigns. That included:
- Modernizing the CLC’s digital and online presence, implementing a social media strategy, and overhauling the website;
- Recruiting and managing a team of professionals working in digital media, media relations, marketing, public relations, and graphic design;
- Building campaigns that won concrete victories, including an historic federal ban on asbestos, government commitments to enforce criminal liability for workplace deaths and injuries, and paid leave for women facing domestic violence;
- Producing web, social media, and video content addressing wage discrimination against Indigenous, racialized, and immigrant women and women with disabilities; sexual harassment and violence; and Canada’s child care crisis;
- Writing opinion pieces for the CLC president;
- Project managing digital and print media campaigns, including a million-dollar television advertising campaign to improve labor’s image; and
- Providing strategic communications and crisis management advice to senior leadership.
Campaigns and Public Engagement Strategist, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Jun 2011 – Aug 2014
I coordinated campaigns for the Public Service Alliance of Canada — the union representing most of Canada’s federal government workers — at a time when they were the target of an unprecedented assault by the most right-wing Conservative government in Canadian history. A highlight was developing and running a campaign against the shut-down of veterans’ frontline service centers that:
- Mobilized people across the political spectrum, championed public service workers, forced out the Veterans Affairs Minister, and helped defeat the Conservatives in Canada’s 2015 federal election; and
- Left the incoming Liberal government with no choice but to re-open the offices, restoring critical frontline services for military veterans living with PTSD and other mental health and physical disabilities and others who served in Canada’s armed forces, navy, and national police force.
Campaign Strategist, The Torture Files
May 2003 to December 2009
After the 9/11 attacks in the United States, a Canadian national security investigation targeted and falsely accused four Canadian Muslim men of terrorist ties, leading to their overseas torture in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program. I coordinated the years-long campaign that garnered international media attention, won their release and return to Canada, forced the resignation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner, and culminated in the creation of two Royal Commissions of Inquiry.
- One of the men, Maher Arar, was the first person to survive the CIA’s post 9 – 11 torture program and tell the world his story, making him one of the most sought-after interview subjects for international media.
- Arar was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007. His case was highlighted in a New York Times editorial and caught the attention of President Obama. His U.S. civil suit is still before the courts.
- Because of that campaign, all four men have received public apologies and compensation for Canada’s role in their detention and torture.
Author, Dark Days, Viking Canada (Penguin), 2008
I authored Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror, published by Viking Canada (Penguin) in 2008. The book grew out of chronologies I wrote when investigating and campaigning on the torture files.
- Dark Days won public praise from spymaster and author David Cornwell (John le Carré) and internationally acclaimed journalist Robert Fisk. It won the 2009 City of Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction, was a Quill and Quire “Book of the Year”, and was one of the “Best Books of 2008” chosen by Amazon.ca.