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CTV’s Power Play: Our Front Bench panellists

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Power Play with Vassy Kapelos is CTV News Channel's daily marquee political program from Monday to Friday at 5 p.m. ET. Keep scrolling to learn more about regular political panellists. 

The Front Bench

Anne McGrath

Anne is the national director of the New Democratic Party. She formerly served as president of the NDP, deputy chief of staff to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and chief of staff to three federal leaders of the NDP: Jack Layton, Nycole Turmel, and Tom Mulcair. She has held a variety of positions with non-profit organizations, such as OXFAM-Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Brian Gallant

Brian Gallant is the CEO of Space Canada and a special advisor to the president of Ontario Tech University. He served as the 33rd premier of New Brunswick from 2014 to 2018. In addition to this role, Brian was the Attorney General, the minister responsible for innovation, and the minister responsible for women’s equality. In 2018, he led his Premier colleagues as the chair of the Council of the Federation. When he left office at age 36, he was the youngest premier in Canada at the time and second youngest in history.

Carlene Variyan

Carlene is the associate vice-president of Summa Strategies and former political staffer, spending a total of 15 years on Parliament Hill. She has worked at the most senior levels of the federal government, serving as chief of staff to Jim Carr, and deputy chief of staff and director of communications to cabinet ministers holding economic, social and security portfolios. From 2014 to 2016, she also served on the National Board of Directors of the Liberal Party of Canada and has also held senior roles on the Liberal party’s national campaign teams for the 2015, 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Christy Clark

Christy is the former premier of British Columbia and now senior advisor with internationally-recognized Canadian law firm Bennett Jones. During her political career, she also served as minister of education, minister of children and family and vice-chair of treasury board. Christy retired from political life in 2017 as the longest-serving female Premier in Canadian history and the only woman in Canada ever to be re-elected. At the time of her departure, British Columbia had been Canada’s economic leader for three years running—the first time that had happened since the 1960s.

Dan Moulton

Dan is a partner at Crestview Strategy in Toronto. He is a Liberal campaign strategist who has more than a decade of political experience, serving in senior political roles in the Ontario governments of Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty. Across various roles, Dan has provided strategic leadership on some of the highest-stakes files, including one of the largest initial public offerings in Canadian history, two minority government budgets and a plan to cut the cost of electricity by twenty-five percent.

Elliot Hughes

Elliot is a political commentator and former advisor to Liberal finance and defence ministers. He has also worked for a federal Opposition Leader and a former Premier of Ontario. Today, Elliot is president of Note Bleue Consulting and senior associate with Summa Strategies, advising defence, tech, and financial sector clients on Canada's political landscape as well as broader geopolitical trends. In addition to his Substack, Elliot is a frequent and sought-after media commentator on politics and public affairs.

Gary Mar

Gary is a former Alberta MLA and cabinet minister, and the current president and CEO of the Canada West Foundation (CWF). During his time as an elected official, he held several cabinet portfolios: community development, health and wellness, education, environment and international and intergovernmental relations. Gary also worked extensively with the Alberta energy sector on advocacy issues in the United States and served as Alberta’s Representative in Asia from 2011 to 2015. Prior to joining CWF, he also served as president and CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

Gurratan Singh

During his career in politics, Gurratan developed and implemented effective campaign strategies at all levels of government, including a successful federal party leadership race. He held several key roles in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, including critic for the Attorney General and Deputy House Leader. Prior to his election, Gurratan practiced as a litigation lawyer representing hundreds of clients across Ontario including at the Ontario Court of Justice, Superior Court of Justice, and the Ontario Court of Appeal. Gurratan is the brother of federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

John Tory

John served as the mayor of Toronto from 2014 to 2023. He has been a prominent figure in Ontario business and politics since the early 1980s, working for federal and provincial politicians including as operations director for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s successful re-election campaign. He then served as the leader of Ontario Progressive Conservative from 2004 to 2009 and as an MPP from 2005 to 2007. Alongside politics, John also had a career as a lawyer, talk show host, corporate executive and the commissioner of the Canadian Football League.

Kathleen Monk

Kathleen Monk is a seasoned strategist and veteran of numerous federal and provincial political campaigns. She served as director of communications to the late Jack Layton, serving as spokesperson and war-room director for the historic 2011 federal campaign. An award-winning communicator, Kathleen has directed campaigns recognized internationally for their advertising and media relations. Now President of Monk + Associates, Kathleen works with business and civic leaders to build strategies to secure public affairs victories.  Before entering her career in politics, Kathleen worked in newsrooms in Toronto, Ottawa, and Washington, D.C.

Laura Stone

Laura Stone is an award-winning journalist who joined the Globe and Mail in 2016. She’s reported on Parliament Hill and from across the country including Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, and now covers politics at Queen’s Park. Born and bred in Ottawa, Laura likes to dabble in both federal and provincial politics and enjoys profiling politicians over lunch, because no one ever regretted a good meal. She spends her free time chasing after her young son. Laura also appears weekly on CTV’s Your Morning.

Lisa Raitt

Lisa is managing director and vice-chair of Global Investment Banking at CIBC Capital Markets. She was elected to the House of Commons in 2008, serving as Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of Labour and Minister of Transport. In 2015, Lisa was appointed finance critic for the Official Opposition and in 2017 she was appointed Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. She is a Woodrow Wilson Center Global Fellow of the Canada Institute and was also the former president and CEO of the Toronto Port Authority.

Marieke Walsh

Marieke is a senior political reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau. She has covered politics since 2011, first on Parliament Hill, then in Halifax and Toronto, before heading back to the Hill in 2019. Among many stories, she has covered two federal elections, a global pandemic, the fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Queen’s funeral. In 2020, she was part of a team of Globe reporters that won a National Newspaper Award for their coverage of the WE Charity controversy.

Melanie Paradis

Melanie is the President of Texture Communications and former political staffer. She was Deputy Campaign Manager for Erin O’Toole’s successful 2020 Conservative Leadership campaign and served as the Director of Strategic Communications and principal speech writer in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. Known for her ghostwriting, Melanie has worked with Canadian leaders in business, politics, and Indigenous communities for more than 15 years. A veteran Conservative campaigner, Melanie has worked in multiple federal and provincial election war rooms and on leadership campaigns.

Rachel Aiello

Rachel Aiello covers the latest political news from CTV's parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. Part of CTV News' national digital team since 2017 and a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 2014, Rachel has covered everything from high-profile political scandals to the Freedom Convoy protests. Rachel is also the author of CTV News' Capital Dispatch newsletter, a weekly update on the latest news from the minority Parliament when it's in session. From Peterborough, Rachel moved to Ottawa where she graduated from the University of Ottawa's joint journalism program with Algonquin College.

Robert Benzie

Robert Benzie is Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star. Prior to joining the Star in 2003, he was a political reporter at the National Post, a paper he helped launch in 1998. He began his career at the Toronto Sun and Ottawa Sun. A National Newspaper Award and Michener Award nominee, he has covered numerous federal, provincial and municipal elections and party leadership contests. Born in Australia to a Jamaican mother and a Scottish father, he is a proud Canadian and a graduate of Royal St. George’s College, Western University, and Concordia University. He lives in Toronto with his wife, two children, and a cavapoo who has made cameo appearances on Power Play.

Sabrina Grover

Sabrina is an experienced advocacy, policy and communications professional who has worked extensively with civil society and non-profit organizations in Canada and internationally, focused on global health and gender equality. Sabrina has been politically involved at all three levels of government in both Ontario and Alberta. She ran as the Liberal Candidate in the 2021 federal election in Calgary-Centre and most recently served as campaign manager for Mark Sutcliffe's successful mayoral campaign in Ottawa. She is the founder and principal of Shakti Strategies.

Shakir Chambers

Shakir is a principal of government relations at Earnscliffe Strategies, where he brings over a decade of experience as an advisor to federal and provincial governments, political campaigns, and C-suite executives. Shakir began his career on Parliament Hill in the Prime Minister's Office before becoming a policy advisor to the federal Minister of International Trade. As an advocate for youth engagement in politics, Shakir volunteers his time as a mentor for youth with an interest in public affairs and political consulting. He holds two Masters' degrees from Western University and pursued his Ph.D in Canada-China relations at Carleton University.

Tom Mulcair

A retired Canadian politician and now political analyst for CTV News, Tom Mulcair was the former leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) from 2012 to 2017, serving as leader of the Official Opposition from 2012 to 2015. He previously held positions as Member of the National Assembly of Québec for Chomedey, Member of the Canadian Parliament for Outremont, and he served as Québec Minister of the Environment. Outside of politics, he was a lawyer and is now a university professor. Top Stories

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