Here's a Monday bombshell - Premier Gordon Campbell's senior deputy minister Jessica McDonald has quit effective Tuesday!
No reasons have so far been given beyond the usual "future career opportunities".
McDonald has been Campbell top government official since she took over from Ken Dobell in 2005.
Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel will take over from McDonald.
Interestingly, Seckel has played a significant role in the Basi-Virk - BC Rail case, dealing with a number of key issues about government disclosure of evidence.
Defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three former BC Liberal government staffer facing corruption charges over the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail - had made arguments in court that Premier Campbell may have "politically interfered" in the case.
But Justice Elizabeth Bennett strongly rejected those arguments earlier this year, including suggestions about Seckel's role.
“There’s not a scintilla of evidence that Mr. Seckel has acted improperly,” Bennett said in an oral ruling delivered April 30, 2009.
More later - but here is the news release from premier's office in full:
It is followed by McDonald's own letter to the public servic.
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October 5, 2009
Office of the Premier
PREMIER CAMPBELL ANNOUNCES KEY APPOINTMENT
VICTORIA – Allan P. Seckel, Q.C., has been appointed Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the British Columbia Public Service, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.
Seckel will replace Jessica McDonald who has been serving in that role since 2005. The appointment will be effective tomorrow.
Following six years as a deputy minister in the Premier’s Office and a career in the BC Public Service extending back to 1991, McDonald will move on to future career opportunities. A three-month period has been established to ensure a smooth transition.
In 2005, McDonald became the first woman to hold the position of Head of the British Columbia Public Service. Under her leadership the organization achieved a 10-point increase in employee engagement, along with its first recognition as one of B.C.’s Top 50 Employers and Canada’s 30 Greenest Employers. She has been recognized for her leadership in innovation and employee engagement, including the 2008 IPAC/Deloitte National Gold Award for Public Sector Leadership.
Seckel previously held the position of Deputy Attorney General since 2003, after many years in private practice with a major law firm in Vancouver.
As Deputy Attorney General, Seckel has held overall responsibility for the administration of justice in British Columbia, including support to the independent judiciary, prosecuting offences under federal and provincial statutes, drafting legislation, providing legal advice to government and representing it in litigation.
He is the author or co-author of two legal texts, “Estate Administration In British Columbia, A Solicitor’s Reference Manual” and “The BC Supreme Court Rules Annotated”. He is also a contributing author to the CLE Civil Trial Handbook.
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Full text of Jessica McDonald’s letter to public service employees:
Thank You to the BC Public Service
Good morning. I am writing to you today to announce that I will be leaving the BC Public Service. I know this will come as a surprise, and I wanted to convey my personal thoughts directly to all of you.
I have served as a Deputy Minister to Premier Campbell for six years, more than four of which as Head of the BC Public Service. These years have been a constant source of great pride and it is difficult to imagine a more rewarding opportunity, not just as part of a career, but as a British Columbian.
A healthy organization is a constantly evolving one where new ideas and energy come together to chart a strong course forward. We have made great strides over the past few years, and I feel it is time to step aside and give the opportunity to another to continue this work.
This was not an easy decision. I considered enabling a change of leadership during the transition immediately following the election, but I found I could not take the decision to leave in the middle of impending workforce adjustment.
I felt it was important to see any job impacts through, continuing to work on finding every solution to minimize effects on employees.
I am proud of the intensive work we have done over the months leading up to the implementation of the revised budget. I can now leave my position knowing in my heart that every step has been taken to continue building a strong public service and avoid any unnecessary hardship for individuals.
While I am announcing my intentions today, I will remain available to assist my colleague and successor, Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel, over a three-month period to ensure a smooth transition.
I have no immediate plans for my future, other than to spend time with my family and consider the next phase of my career. Thank you for making the past six years so memorable and rewarding.
I have found my strength during challenging times in the inspiring work of individuals across the public service.
Thank you for the work you do every day, and for the values you uphold.