Oil in­dus­try man­ager to take on job as NDP leader’s chief of staff

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION - D.C. FRASER and ALEX MACPHER­SON dfraser@postmedia.com Twit­ter.com/dcfraser

REGINA The Saskatchewan NDP is set to name an oil in­dus­try man­ager cur­rently living in Hous­ton, Texas, as the new chief of staff to party leader Ryan Meili.

Olin Valby, who will leave Tran­sCanada Corp. when he starts next month, is Meili’s first ma­jor hire since win­ning the party’s lead­er­ship race in March.

Ac­cord­ing to his on­line re­sume, Valby — a for­mer min­is­te­rial as­sis­tant in Lorne Calvert’s NDP gov­ern­ment — has 20 years of com­bined ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­ern­ment and the oil in­dus­try.

Meili said Valby, whom he has known for 20 years, has a “real un­der­stand­ing ” of how leg­isla­tive busi­ness and the oil busi­ness work.

“(He) was re­ally suc­cess­ful work­ing on big projects and work­ing to get re­sults,” Meili said.

Asked what peo­ple should make of the hire by the NDP, which has been crit­i­cized by the gov­ern­ment for its ap­proach to pipe­lines and the oil in­dus­try, Meili said he wouldn’t make too much of it in any di­rec­tion.

“It’s re­ally about find­ing peo­ple with the qual­i­ties we need to do the job, and his ex­pe­ri­ence in that field helps us to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the needs in that field, but that is more im­ma­te­rial. It’s more the skill set that he brings,” he said, adding he is look­ing for­ward to hav­ing Valby on board as part of the NDP gov­ern­ment’s project to form gov­ern­ment.

Valby pledged $5,000 to Meili’s lead­er­ship cam­paign.

Valby, who could not be im­me­di­ately reached for com­ment on Thurs­day, will re­place Deb McDon­ald, who has been serv­ing as Meili’s in­terim chief of staff.

Mcdon­ald re­placed Ge­orge Soule, who was hired to be for­mer in­terim leader Trent Wother­spoon’s chief of staff.

Soule stayed on as chief dur­ing Ni­cole Sa­rauer’s ten­ure as in­terim leader.

Mcdon­ald will stay on tem­po­rar­ily as Volby tran­si­tions into the new role.

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