Katie Telford on Canada's new government.
Katie Telford, Chief of Staff to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, got her start in politics at age 12, working as a page in her province’s legislature. Now she’s 38 and holds one of the most powerful positions in her nation.
Speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit on Wednesday, Telford shared her political education as well as her perspective on the U.S. election, which, she said, was closer in style to the Canadian national election (held in October 2015) than one might think, despite the strikingly different results. “We saw indications of what was to come,” she says. “There was a debate about voting rights and whether or not it was a positive thing for a woman to be allowed to wear a hijab. But at the end of the day, Canadians wanted to talk about the plight of the middle class.”
Trudeau, like President-elect Trump, stuck to an economic message—with a far more government-oriented solution—and won. Unlike Trump, he has already used his platform to focus specifically on women, naming Canada’s first Cabinet with gender parity—something that raised the ire of some, says Telford. “Many people said this was an attack on meritocracy,” she says. “Then we announced who they were and they have not said that since.”
Although Telford did not comment specifically on the U.S. election, she was happy to reach out to anyone disappointed by the results. “We welcome all of you,” she said with a smile. “Businesses, consider investing in and expanding in Canada!”