Jason Easton with former Governor General David Johnston in 2017. Jason Easton photo.
Nicholas L. M. Allen
Oct 25, 2023
From growing up in the Pass to working in the Prime Minister's office.
Starting on October 23, a local man began work as a strategic advisor, working directly for the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Katie Telford. Jason Easton has gone from growing up in Crowsnest Pass to working in the Prime Minister’s office.
Adopted at birth, Easton lived in Calgary until about the age of four when his parents separated. His adoptive parents both grew up in the Crowsnest Pass and his mother moved them closer to have her parents help raise him and his sister. He reminisced about how they would spend a lot of time with his grandpa growing up, but they wouldn’t be watching TV.
“We wouldn’t watch cartoons, I would go there and, with my grandmother, who is also quite attuned to current events, we would read the newspaper and then she and my grandfather would just argue and debate,” said Easton.
From this, his interest in current affairs and by extension, politics, really came from that experience.
“All of my formative memories as a child were in the Crowsnest Pass. I was a Hillcrest boy but my grandparents on my dad’s side were in Coleman, so I very much view myself as a child of the Pass,” said Easton.
Easton went to MDM for elementary school, explaining only kids from Hillcrest and Bellevue went there at the time. After that he moved on to Isabelle Sellon, where he “came out of his shell.” He remembered growing up in the winters learning how to ski where he spent most of his time on the slopes.
“Me and my friends would ski six days a week only because Pass Powderkeg was closed on Mondays. It was an important part of my childhood spending days on the ski hill with my friends,” added Easton.
Easton developed a competitive edge over the years, fueled by a sense of being different due to being adopted.
“I never really fit in anywhere and I’ve always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and always felt I needed to prove myself,” said Easton.
Despite not making the volleyball team in grade seven, he excelled in basketball and remained highly competitive. Easton formed a close-knit group in volleyball from grade 8 to 12, with a core group of five friends playing together each year. He also played a variety of instruments throughout school, describing himself as musical.
“I was in band and in jazz band I played alto saxophone. On my mom’s side of the family, having some type of musical education was very important to them. I started off playing piano when I was young, eventually rejected that around grade four,” said Easton.
He had it in mind he wanted to play saxophone, but the band program at the time had him learn a different reed instrument before going to saxophone. There was a year between when he quit piano and when he started band playing clarinet where he learned to play something else.
“In that year, my mom made me learn how to play the accordion because my dad played Polish accordion,” recalled Easton.
Near the end of his schooling in the Crowsnest Pass is when he began applying for post-secondary.
“I had always kind of wanted to go to the University of Alberta because I was born in Edmonton, and I’d never really spent a lot of time there. Also, because I was an Oilers fan and to me, growing up in the Pass, I didn’t really contemplate a world outside of Alberta,” said Easton.
He said his decision was largely based on scholarships, allowing him to cover his costs fully into his second year. He thinks the biggest thing for anyone growing up in the Pass and going to a school like CCHS is just to keep options open and be open minded.
“Growing up I had no idea the types of careers available to me and 95 per cent of who I grew up with, they all end up back in the Crowsnest Pass or within a radius that extends maybe to Lethbridge,” said Easton, “None of us, not even me, were thinking bigger than let’s work in the mine or let’s work in my parents shop. The choices that I’ve made have led me thousands of kilometers away from home... Simply because I was open-minded enough and courageous enough to take a chance.”
Now Easton works with Katie Telford, someone he first worked with in 2006. He believes his role will include priority issues that require a dedicated focus.
“One of the things I enjoy most is solving problems. That might be the engineer in me as I have an engineering background, so I like to think of this as a problem-solving role,” said Easton.
For the last five years he has been working in the federal government and worked two years in the provincial government prior.
“I think about the Crowsnest Pass almost every day that I’m doing my job, living in Ottawa and I look around and think a guy like me is not supposed to be here,” said Easton.
According to Easton he is looking forward to going to the Prime Minister’s office as it will enable him to “flex muscles” he hasn’t used in a while.
“I spent 13 years at General Motors, so I’ve done the big corporate thing. I had a very good career path, but what took me to government was a desire to give back,” said Easton.
He said there are not a lot of people from rural, small-town Alberta that end up in government decision making circles in Ottawa.
“Life is different growing up in the mountains or in the prairies, even versus rural Ontario, rural Quebec. I think the perspective is important and grounding is important,” added Easton.
Easton’s path from the Crowsnest Pass to the federal government officially began on October 23.