OTTAWA - Michael Ignatieff is starting to put a Toronto-heavy stamp on the Liberal party, surrounding himself with loyalists who helped him secure the leadership.

Almost a month after being installed as leader, Ignatieff has begun filling key posts in the Opposition leader's office, the party and its campaign machine.

He has yet to hire a chief of staff to run his office. But insiders say former New Brunswick MP Paul Zed will effectively take on that role - without the title - until a permanent top aide can be found.

With the notable exception of Zed, Ignatieff's inner circle thus far appears to be top-heavy with Torontonians, most of whom played key roles in the Toronto MP's two leadership campaigns.

Ian Davey, who was instrumental in wooing Ignatieff back to Canada from Harvard and who ran his 2006 leadership campaign, has been named principal secretary.

Sachin Aggarwal, operations director during the leadership campaigns, will take on the job of deputy chief of staff.

Jill Fairbrother and Leslie Church, both of whom handled media relations for Ignatieff's leadership bids, will share communications responsibilities in the Opposition leader's office as well.

Ignatieff is also poised to name another Torontonian as the party's new national director.

Rocco Rossi, CEO of Ontario's Heart and Stroke Foundation, is expected to assume the party's top administrative job, replacing Greg Fergus. Fergus, who was appointed national director by former leader Stephane Dion, tendered his resignation Monday.

Rossi's expertise as an innovative fundraiser could be a huge asset for the cash-strapped Liberals, who've been struggling to adapt to the ban on corporate donations imposed in 2004.

The Tories have proved much more adept at raising small amounts of money from thousands of individual donors, raking in almost five times more money than the Liberals in the last few years.

Rossi is also an experienced political organizer and longtime Liberal.

Two more Torontonians are expected to take key roles on the Liberal election team.

Don Guy, a former chief of staff to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, is expected to be named campaign director while Warren Kinsella will manage the war room, as he's done in the past for McGuinty and former prime minister Jean Chretien.

Ignatieff has not yet put his stamp on the Liberal shadow cabinet and Fairbrother said there has been no discussion about the various roles caucus members will play. She said Ignatieff may choose to make no significant changes to the lineup of critics assigned by Dion.

Privately, some Liberals are wondering why Ignatieff has waited almost a month to start assembling his team.

After a tumultuous fall parliamentary session that almost toppled the Harper government and led to Ignatieff's hasty coronation as Liberal leader, Fairbrother said: "I think everybody took a break over the holidays and I don't think we need to apologize for that."

Now that he's started pulling his inner circle together, some Liberals are privately worried that Ignatieff is simply importing his leadership team into the Opposition leader's office - much as former leader Paul Martin did, with disastrous results. Leadership campaign organizers aren't necessarily best suited to policy development and preparing to govern.

Moreover, some Liberals are grumbling that Ignatieff has made little effort thus far to include supporters of his former leadership rivals, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc, in his inner circle.