New chief at The Globe’s Ottawa bureau

More changes at senior levels of The Globe and Mail. Ottawa bureau chief Brian Laghi is leaving Parliament Hill to tackle a new career, which he characterized to colleagues as a bid to satisfy a need for change as he turns 50. Sylvia Stead, who editor-in-chief John Stackhouse installed just weeks ago as his senior manager in charge of staffing and training, was at Laghi’s side this morning as he made the announcement to bureau staff.

Ottawa bureau chief-designate John Ibbitson
Ottawa bureau chief-designate John Ibbitson

Replacing Laghi in Ottawa will be columnist John Ibbitson, who former editor-in-chief Ed Greenspon sent packing to Washington several years ago, despite Ibbitson’s dazzling work in the nation’s capital, where he frequently set the agenda for Question Period with his incisive and provocative columns.

Ibbitson has done yoeman service in Washington, covering American politics through the second term of George W. Bush, an intense and scrappy primary process and the historic election and inauguration of Barack Obama. But his posting to the U.S. capital seemed, to me at least, never to have generated the buzz or impact of his earlier stint in Ottawa, where he was a daily must-read. His return there bodes well for national political journalism.

Here’s editor-in-chief John Stackhouse’s memo to staff today:

I am sorry to announce that Brian Laghi, our Ottawa bureau chief, is leaving The Globe and Mail next month to pursue a new career.

Brian was hired in Edmonton in 1995 where he was the Journal’s legislative bureau chief. He was The Globe’s reporter in Edmonton and the north, specializing in politics and the creation of Nunavut. His experience as one of the first journalists in the country to understand and appreciate the grassroots Reform movement served him well when he moved to Ottawa and shone as an expert in the conservative movement. Along with politics, he covered federal-provincial relations, immigration and other issues. He has been bureau chief since 2004, helping direct coverage of two elections, budgets and major assignments and explaining federal politics to our readers. He won a National Newspaper Award in 2002 as part of a team on bank mergers and was nominated with Jeffrey Simpson last year for their profile of Stephen Harper.

Brian will start a new job in September as director of communications and public affairs for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

At the same time,  I am delighted to announce that John Ibbitson will be the next Ottawa bureau chief. In this role, he will report to Sinclair Stewart, the new national editor.

For nearly two decades, John has been a front-row observer and writer of Canadian and U.S. politics. Along with his deep knowledge of politics and government, he will bring to his new role boundless energy and enthusiasm for our coverage of national affairs.

John started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen’s Park columnist, Ottawa political affairs correspondent and, since May 2007, our Washington correspondent and columnist. He’s also the author of the just-published Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper.

Born in the  Ontario town of Gravenhurst, John graduated from the University of Toronto in 1979 with an Honours B.A. in English and from the University of Western Ontario in 1988 with an M.A. in Journalism.

Before joining the Globe, John worked as a reporter, columnist and Queen’s Park correspondent for Southam papers. He’s also published three works of political analysis: Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution; Loyal No More: Ontario’s Struggle for a Separate Destiny and The Polite Revolution: Perfecting the Canadian Dream. In his spare time, he writes plays and young-adult novels. His latest, The Landing, won the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. John’s writing has been nominated as well for the Donner Prize, the National Newspaper Award, the Trillium Award and the City of Toronto Book Award.

John and Brian will be in the bureau together for a formal handover early next month. Please join me in thanking Brian for his great contributions to the Globe, congratulating John on a brilliant run in Washington and wishing them both well in their new roles.

John Stackhouse

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