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DerekJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-21-08 11:15 PM
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Canada: PM's top aide stepping down (just ahead of the release of areport into "NAFTA-gate,"
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May 21, 2008 11:53 PM
Bruce Campion-Smith
Staff Reporters
Richard Brennan
Robert Benzie

PM's top aide stepping down

Ian Brodie, chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

OTTAWAPrime Minister Stephen Harper's trusted lieutenant, Ian Brodie, is leaving his post, just days before publication of a report into a diplomatic incident that undermined U.S. Senator Barack Obama's presidential bid.

Brodie will be replaced in July by Guy Giorno, who served as chief of staff to former Ontario premier Mike Harris, effective July 1, the Star has confirmed.

Brodie was said to have wanted to return to teaching at the University of Western Ontario. But the decision comes just ahead of the release of an investigative report into "NAFTA-gate," the leak of sensitive diplomatic information that made headlines on both sides of the border, embarrassed Harper and his government and possibly undercut Canada's dealings with the future president.

Brodie's offhand comments to journalists in Ottawa were singled out as sparking the chain of events that put Obama on the defensive on the eve of the March 4 Ohio primary, after suggestions from Canadian sources that his campaign concerns about the NAFTA trade deal weren't real.

While Giorno did not respond to inquiries from the Star Wednesday night, friends and former associates confirmed he has accepted the prestigious post as Harper's chief of staff.

Harper did not mask his unhappiness that his government had sparked the embarrassing diplomatic episode.

"This kind of leaking of information is completely unacceptable. In fact, it may well be illegal," Harper told the House of Commons.

"It is not useful, it is not in the interests of the government of Canada - and the way the leak was executed was blatantly unfair to Senator Obama and his campaign."

Kevin Lynch, the clerk of the Privy Council, was overseeing the internal probe, that had been farmed out to a private investigative firm.

Lynch said the probe would look at the "unauthorized verbal disclosure" as well as the leak of a Canadian memo about the Illinois senator's views on NAFTA.

"I can assure you that the investigation is being conducted in a thorough and comprehensive manner, and that all necessary resources are being put at its disposal," Lynch wrote in March.

The report into that incident is now expected to be released either late this week or early next week.



Feel free to insult Harper.

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