Pierre Poilievre is poised to make major changes to the Conservative Party’s machinery after Saturday’s convincing leadership win.
Robert Staley, a Toronto-based lawyer and vice chair of the Bennett Jones law firm, is expected to become chair of the powerful Conservative Fund, multiple sources tell Global News. Staley previously served as a lawyer for former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Staley served as counsel for Poilievre’s leadership campaign, and was cited by multiple sources as a central figure in the organization.
He will replace James Dodds, a vice-president at TD Bank in Toronto, as the Conservative Fund’s chair. Dodds, who was put forward by former leader Erin O’Toole, was widely expected to step down after Poilievre’s victory Saturday night.
And a senior source close to Poilievre expects more shake-ups to come.
The Conservative Fund is the fundraising arm of the party – a board that includes powerful party operators who make significant decisions about the Conservatives’ finances. Harper formerly sat on the board, but resigned in the fallout of revelations the fund covered private school expenses for former leader Andrew Scheer’s children.
For roughly two decades, the fund was helmed by now-retired Sen. Irving Gerstein. Gerstein retired from the fund’s board in 2020, shortly after Erin O’Toole became party leader. Dodds – who held a Christmas party in 2019 where O’Toole made his decision to run for leader – was widely expected to step down after Poilievre became leader.
The next big decision Poilievre’s team will have to make is who becomes executive director of the party itself.
O’Toole installed Janet Fryday Dorey, a well-known party organizer in Atlantic Canada, as executive director shortly after winning the leadership. After the Conservative caucus booted O’Toole out, interim leader Candice Bergen appointed longtime party activist Wayne Benson to the position.
Jenni Byrne, a former chief of staff to Harper and an outspoken Conservative activist that worked on Poilievre’s leadership campaign, is coordinating Poilievre’s transition to the office of the leader of the opposition.
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