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Office of the Prime Minister (Canada)

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Office of the Prime Minister
Cabinet du Premier minister
Logo of the Office of the Prime Minister

Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council building in 2013, when it was known as the Langevin Block
Agency overview
FormedJuly 1, 1867 (1867-07-01)
HeadquartersOffice of the Prime Minister and Privy Council building, Ottawa, Ontario
Annual budget$10,050,503 (2020–2021)[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executives

The Office of the Prime Minister (commonly called the prime minister's office or PMO (French: Cabinet du Premier ministre; CPM) comprises the staff that supports the prime minister of Canada and is located in the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council Building in Ottawa, Ontario. The PMO provides policy advice, information gathering, communications, planning, and strategizing. It should not be confused with the Privy Council Office (PCO), which is the higher office that controls the Public Service of Canada and is expressly non-partisan; the PMO is concerned with making policy, whereas the PCO is concerned with executing the policy decisions made by the government.

Katie Telford manages the PMO, serving as chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since November 4, 2015. The position of principal secretary has been vacant since February 18, 2019.


Officially titled the Office of the Prime Minister, the organization is widely referred to as the prime minister's office and, although the latter rendering of the name is completely unofficial, the office's English abbreviation is always given as PMO, as opposed to OPM. (In French, the PMO is known as the Cabinet du Premier minister and abbreviated as CPM, or often literally translated as Bureau du Premier Ministre, abbreviated as BPM.)

Unlike similar executive offices, such as 10 Downing Street, the White House, and Rideau Hall, the Canadian prime minister's official residence of 24 Sussex Drive is not widely used as a metonym for the prime minister's office. This is because, unlike those examples, the Canadian prime minister's official residence is not the site of any bureaucratic functions. Langevin Block—the former name of the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council Building—was occasionally used this way in media, as it is the seat of the PMO. But, since the building has been renamed, media usually simply speak of staff "in the prime minister's office".[2]


The PMO includes speech writers, strategists, and communications staffers who shape the prime minister's and Cabinet's message, as well as keeping the prime minister informed on events that take place in government and across the country. The office also acts as a link between the political party organization and the government.

One of the most important roles of the PMO is related to government appointments, which are made by the monarch or governor general on the advice of the prime minister, the PMO working with the Privy Council Office to find suitable candidates for positions such as the governor general, provincial lieutenant governors, senators, Supreme Court justices, chairpersons of ministerial boards, heads of Crown corporations, and more.


After Jean Chrétien became prime minister, the PMO continued to be the central organ of the government. Chrétien greatly depended upon the PMO, especially his chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, who ran the office from 1993 to 2001; Percy Downe, who served as his director of appointments from 1998 to 2001 and chief of staff from 2001 to 2003; and his senior advisor, Eddie Goldenberg, who had spent his entire career working with Chrétien in various ministries. Chrétien's successor, Paul Martin, changed the structure of the PMO to more match that of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. For example, he introduced deputy chiefs of staff, who were responsible for areas such as communications and policy; re-established the position of director in the offices of the other ministers of the Crown, positions that were previously known as special assistants; and re-established the position of principal secretary, which had originally been created by Trudeau. Martin further, and significantly, increased the salary of the PMO's staff.

This model was largely retained by Martin's successor, Stephen Harper, despite the recommendations of John Gomery following his investigation into the sponsorship scandal, in which he concluded the power of the PMO should be reduced,[3] stating, "the most troubling facts were that this aberration originated in the prime minister's office in the first place and was allowed to continue for so long, despite internal audit reports, investigations, warnings, and complaints by public servants involved in the actual contracts in question."[3]


  1. ^ Secretariat, Treasury Board of Canada; Open Government, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada. "Expenditures of Ministers' Offices". Retrieved 2021-11-09.
  2. ^ Althia Raj (December 29, 2022). Canadian politics in 2022 | At Issue answers your questions (Television production). CBC News. New staff in the Prime Minister's Office!
  3. ^ a b " Slash power of PMO, Gomery urges". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  • J.E. Hodgetts "Prime Minister's Office The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  • McMenemy, John. "Prime Minister's Office." The Language of Canadian Politics.
  • Eddie Goldenberg, The Way It Works pages 40 to 45.
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Office of the Prime Minister (Canada)
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