Mayor Rob Ford has elevated an affable senior aide, at least temporarily, to the hot-button position of chief of staff.
Earl Provost, Ford’s director of stakeholder and council relations, was named acting chief of staff on Monday, filling in for Amir Remtulla who is moving to a senior post with the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Provost, a Ford loyalist popular with many councillors despite his boss’s combative approach to politics, and a rare Liberal in Ford’s conservative fold, is actively lobbying to remain in the top job, sources told Torstar News Service.
Also touted as possible replacements are Mark Towhey, Ford’s policy chief who was acting chief of staff before Remtulla was hired, and Andrew Pask, who executive assistant to Ford when he was Ward 2 councillor.
Pask was briefly a senior mayoral adviser until a blow-up with Remtulla’s predecessor, Nick Kouvalis, led to both Pask and Kouvalis leaving City Hall in early 2011.
The mercurial mayor’s top staffer will help set the tone for the second half of his term, and could greatly influence Ford’s chances of re-election in 2014.
Remtulla was considered by many councillors to be a genial breath of fresh air after the hard-nosed Kouvalis. However, during Remtulla’s 18-month reign, Ford lost his once-strong grip on council, reducing him to the role of noisy bystander on issues including transit expansion.
The chief of staff position paid $156,692 last year.