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Leading party strategists join forces to create advisory firm

NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp reacts on stage during the NDP leadership convention in Toronto on Friday, March 23, 2012.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Three experienced partisan strategists from across Canada's political spectrum are going into business together to offer advice on influencing government decisions in Ottawa and provincial capitals.

Brian Topp, a key adviser to former NDP leader Jack Layton during the party's 2011 "Orange Crush" election breakthrough, is joining forces with Don Guy, the mastermind behind departing Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty's ballot victories, and Conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool, who most recently served as chief of staff to B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

The firm, Kool, Topp & Guy Public Affairs, will announce its creation on Friday.

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The three partners won't act as lobbyists themselves – making them part of an increasing number of firms that offer strategic advice on whom to talk to and what to say rather than approaching government decision-makers for their clients.

"Our clients are their own best spokespeople," the partnership's website says.

The strategists are using their varied political backgrounds as a selling point, according to their website, which uses a hockey analogy to describe Mr. Boessenkool as the "right winger," Mr. Guy as "our centre" and Mr. Topp as their "left winger."

They'll also be offering their services to advise on political campaigns in other countries, sources say.

Until recently, Mr. Boessenkool and Mr. Topp were working on opposite sides of the political divide in British Columbia.

Before he left her office last September, Mr. Boessenkool served as Ms. Clark's chief of staff for about eight months.

A former deputy chief of staff in Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow's office, Mr. Topp is busy right now as the campaign director for B.C. New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix, who's gunning to oust Ms. Clark in the May provincial election.

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If things had gone differently for Mr. Topp, he might be in the House of Commons today, where the NDP is the Official Opposition after its 2011 election success.

He came second in the NDP leadership contest to replace Mr. Layton last year, losing to Tom Mulcair.

Mr. Guy, who has a reputation as a backroom operator who keeps a low public profile, has been called the "Godfather of Queen's Park."

He has previously served as chief of staff to Mr. McGuinty and worked on the research and advertising team for the Liberal Party of Canada's election victories between 1993 and 2000.

Mr. Boessenkool has played senior roles in three national election campaigns for the Harper Conservatives and served as policy adviser to two Alberta finance ministers.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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