The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick
Quebec Ink

Can Michael Sabia bend Ottawa to his will?

MONTREAL — Ottawa is on Michael Sabia watch.

When the noted mandarin and serial executive was named the next deputy finance minister, an appointment effective Monday, exactly how he will fare in the straitjacket of the country’s civil service has been the subject of speculation and “Who-shot-J.R.”-level conjecture.

At the root of this very nerdy parlour game is Sabia’s ego and temper. He has plenty of both, and, along with a ruthless work ethic, they have arguably served him well throughout his decades-long career, which began in the federal service, reached the peaks of corporate Canada and Quebec, Inc. and now deposits him in the No. 2 job at a ministry that directly oversaw $98.8 billion in annual spending in 2019–20.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau handpicked Sabia from a list of roughly 30 people, according to a Liberal source I spoke with who requested anonymity because they aren’t supposed to talk about such things. I’m told it took a few months and some doing to get Sabia to say yes.

    Join now to start reading premium, award-winning journalism.

    By entering your e-mail you consent to receiving commercial electronic messages from The Logic Inc. containing news, updates, offers or promotions about The Logic Inc.’s products and services. You can withdraw your consent at anytime. Please refer to our privacy policy or contact us for more details.

    In-depth, agenda-setting reporting

    Great journalism delivered straight to your inbox.

    Briefing

    Court orders crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital to liquidate

    Quebec plans $325M provincial data cloud

    U.S. FCC commissioner calls for Apple, Google to drop TikTok from app stores

    Best business newsletter in Canada

    Get up to speed in minutes with insights and analysis on the most important stories of the day, every weekday.

    Exclusive events

    See the bigger picture with reporters and industry experts in subscriber-exclusive events.

    Membership in The Logic Council

    Membership provides access to our popular Slack channel, participation in subscriber surveys and invitations to exclusive events with our journalists and special guests.

    Canada's most influential executives and policymakers are reading The Logic

    • CPP Investments
    • Sun Life Financial
    • C100
    • Amazon
    • Telus
    • Mastercard
    • bdc
    • Shopify
    • Rogers
    • RBC
    • General Motors
    • MaRS
    • Government of Canada
    • Uber
    • Loblaw Companies Limited