One of the top jobs in the premier’s office has quickly been filled.
About 24 hours after confirming that his chief of staff had abruptly departed, Premier Darrell Pasloski announced a replacement. This time the premier chose from inside his party’s ranks.
Jonas Smith, a fixture for Pasloski since as early as his first election campaign, was named to the job yesterday.
Smith is a long-time Yukoner who used to be more known for his long hair and music than his politics. He was a member of the Canadian punk band Field Day and later put out his own album.
Smith served as Pasloski’s campaign manager during the 2011 territorial election. Following the Yukon Party’s victory, Smith chopped off his locks, put on a suit and began serving as the premier’s executive assistant.
Jonas has “played an important leadership and advisory role” since that time, Pasloski said in a statement. “I’m pleased to welcome him to this new challenge and responsibility.”
Smith replaces Ric Stryde, who had only held the position since the end of June last year.
On Monday a cabinet spokesperson confirmed Stryde no longer worked for the office, but said very little else.
Spokesperson Dan Macdonald said Stryde’s last day was “late last week” but wouldn’t say whether he resigned or was fired. Macdonald called it a “personnel matter.”
Stryde was raised in the Northwest Territories. Before coming to the Yukon he worked in federal politics, including serving as senior northern advisor to Indian and Northern Affairs ministers Chuck Strahl and John Duncan.
Liberal leader Sandy Silver said Stryde’s departure “came out of left field.”
He called on the government to publicly say why Stryde left and whether he got a severance package.
“This is the number one position in the office, this is the chief of staff,” he said.
Macdonald said he won’t be talking about severance, again saying it’s a “personnel matter.”
NDP leader Liz Hanson suggested Stryde’s abrupt departure points to a problem with leadership.
“The fact of the matter is this is their second chief of staff, they’re on their third deputy minister of finance, they’ve shuffled the deck chairs in the cabinet, and at the core it seems to me they’ve got a government that still can’t find their direction after all these years.”
Stryde replaced Rick Nielsen, who held the job for two and a half years. Nielsen previously served as one of Premier Dennis Fentie’s chiefs of staff for five years, from 2002 until 2007.
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