NAFTA & U.S. election – Update on NAFTAgate

Written by  //  May 24, 2008  //  Canada, Government & Governance, Media, Politics  //  No comments

See also NAFTA news on Wednesday-night.com and NAFTA for related posts

May 24
Report exonerates Brodie over memo leak but confirms chat likely led to NAFTA furor
(Toronto Star) OTTAWA–An investigation of a leak from Stephen Harper’s office that hurt U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s political hopes confirms that the affair probably arose from comments by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie.
Investigators concluded after a two-month probe that the incident, which raised questions about future Canada-U.S. relations, originated with informal remarks that Brodie made to CTV reporters in Ottawa.
The probe also confirmed that Michael Wilson, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., probably had a hand in discussions with reporters that led to the uproar.
Yesterday’s report from Kevin Lynch, the government’s top public servant, provided new details on the role of Brodie and Wilson in the incident even though it pointed out that there was no evidence that either man disclosed “classified information.”
PMO to plug a leak with no source
Probe fails to find staffer who leaked NAFTA memo
Don Martin, National Post
The lingering question: Did the probe into the leak drive Ian Brodie from his job as Mr. Harper’s most loyal advisor?
It’s doubtful, but the timing of the report’s release sure is suspicious. Mr. Brodie’s departure was announced internally just 48 hours before the bureaucratic arm of government cleared him of a deliberate diplomatic breach. Ironically, that news was promptly leaked.
The PMO eagerly and immediately embraced all the report’s recommendations. This is not surprising, given the single-minded preoccupation of its authors was to demand greater secrecy in a government that already adores secrets.
All media lockups will be a wasteland of prime ministerial staff from now on. Security concerns will be elevated to paranoia in embassies and consulates around the world. Staff will be monitored more intensely, and I’ve no doubt the technology used to scour databanks for the report will be incorporated into regular sweeps.
Meanwhile, the great NAFTA caper has hardly lived up to its billing. The Democrats have moved on, their attention focused on the final primaries before the inevitable Obama victory. For them, threats to reconsider the Free Trade Agreement with Canada have been shelved until one of them claims the White House.
As New Democrat leader Jack Layton summed up, the Prime Minister ordered his bureaucrats to investigate his staff and, not surprisingly, they found leaks but no leakers. As a result, the media should be the ones punished with an even tighter gag order.
May 23, 2008
Report clears PM’s chief of staff in NAFTAgate controversy
NDP’s Layton calls for Bernier to be fired
(CBC) The Privy Council Office report said it found no evidence Brodie broke any rules of confidentiality when he spoke to reporters in the lockup.
“Any comments Mr. Brodie may have made during the lockup did not reveal any information tied to the diplomatic report, of which he was made aware only on February 28,” said the report. “There is no evidence that Mr. Brodie disclosed any classified information.”
Friday’s report does conclude that Brodie, who is said to be about to resign, may have spoken to CTV reporters about the subject of NAFTA and Clinton.
NAFTA leak report clears PM’s chief of staff, blames Foreign Affairs
OTTAWA — An investigation into the NAFTA scandal that briefly rocked the American election campaign three months ago has exonerated Ian Brodie, the prime minister’s departing chief of staff, and Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador in Washington.
A 21-page report issued Friday could not finger the culprit who leaked a sensitive document on the issue to The Associated Press, but it did blame the Foreign Affairs Department for incorrectly classifying the diplomatic note and distributing it far and wide.
… NDP Leader Jack Layton said the report is another “black eye” for Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, who has been gaffe-prone for months.
Layton said Bernier should be fired. The Liberals have already called for Bernier’s head over previous mis-steps, including his latest in which he offered a Canadian C-17 transport plane for Myanmar relief, only to discover none was available.
The New Democrat also said he’s not surprised that Brodie and Wilson were cleared.
“This was a report prepared by employees of Mr. Harper, about employees of Mr. Harper that concluded that nothing could be found that could be pinned on the employees of Mr. Harper in any definitive or final sense.”
May 21
PM’s chief of staff Ian Brodie leaving: reports
There are suggestions of an impending shuffle at the highest levels of the Prime Minister’s Office.
(CBC) The CBC’s Keith Boag reported Wednesday night he is hearing that Ian Brodie, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, is about to step down.
There are indications from Conservative insiders that Brodie will be replaced by Guy Giorno, a key aide to former Ontario premier Mike Harris. Brodie had been named as being responsible for the original leak in March in the so-called Naftagate issue involving U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Brodie allegedly told reporters that Obama advisers had privately assured Canadian diplomats that Obama’s tough talk on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement was essentially rhetoric.

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