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‘COO of government’: Anita Anand says new job makes her a key player on economic team

Anita Anand and family in Ottawa
Anita Anand and family in Ottawa

Less than 48 hours into her new role as Treasury Board president, Anita Anand says she has already been in touch with France Fournier, head of Oakville's Chamber of Commerce.

It's the type of outreach that the Oakville MP plans to focus on, as she assumes a job that she told Oakville News is about making sure government money is well spent.

"Treasury Board is the place in government where the money is overseen and the expenditures are watched," said Anand. "It makes sure that money gets out the door but also that it does so in a prudent manner."

The role will make use of her skills in governance, financial markets and economic policy gleaned through 25 years of working in and teaching corporate law.

Anand downplays media speculation about her move into what has traditionally been a low-profile role in government.

"Every single policy of the Government of Canada flows through the Treasury Board – everything. I will be having my fingers on the pulse of government policy across the board," she said.

"I'm in politics to serve Canadians and I'm not focused on what is the profile. I'm focused on how I can do my best for our country and this particular portfolio has an across-the-government role."

She added that she is excited to work alongside Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland as part of Justin Trudeau's "core economic team."

"It is one of two central agencies of government, and the Prime Minister basically has asked me – and I think this is where my experience comes into it – to be what people call the chief operating officer of government."

She described her three main priorities:

  1. Ensuring the government makes the smartest possible investments with public money;
  2. Making government more efficient in reducing the regulatory burden on small businesses and Canadians 
  3. Digitizing and modernizing government systems

Anand added that she plans to travel across the country to share the message with Chambers of Commerce, businesspeople and Canadians that "we have their backs during this economic time."

"That's our message, and that is going to be one that I will be charged now, as president of the Treasury Board, to deliver as an economic minister."

But Anand added that she will miss the people of the Canadian Armed Forces. As defence minister, she said she witnessed the amazing work they do around the country and the world.

"It's just a wonderful organization, and I will miss them so much," she said.

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