As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Indie’s mentor Marcus Brody has been kidnapped by the Nazis, who are using the Grail Diary in his possession to trace the Holy Grail to the Republic of Hatay.

Oops, wrong guy.

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Ian Brodie is getting out of Ottawa, in a move that may or may not be linked to the investigation into Obamagate. (All scandals, putative scandals or fake scandals get names ending in -gate. There are no exceptions. Resistance is futile.) I’m inclined to believe the timing is coincidence. We should know in a few days, when the results of the Clerk’s investigation are released, along with the report of Wajid Khan’s tour of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But even if this is a shotgun departure, it will be interesting to see whether it results in visible changes to the Harper way of doing things. Only yesterday I was talking to a well-connected foreign diplomat stationed in Ottawa, who said he was looking for signs that Harper was making the adjustments that would be needed to govern over a much longer term than he had ever expected. The planning assumption in Tory circles is now that there will be no election before October of 2009. Let me write that again, in case anyone in the OLO is reading. The planning assumption in Tory circles is that the Liberal caucus will get cold feet six more times in the next 18 months, so Harper will have to find something to do in the meantime.

Brodie is an extraordinary figure, smart, attentive to detail, personable, cruel when necessary. Every few months I get an email from him, almost always cheerfully debating a point of analysis in a column or blog posting that otherwise drew little attention from readers. But he is essentially a combat chief-of-staff. His background is in academia but his political jobs for Harper until 2006 were organizational and campaign-oriented. Influence on that front has shifted over the years, roughly, from Tom Flanagan and Ken Boessenkool to the tandem of Brodie and Doug Finley, to the tandem of Patrick Muttart and Finley today. That oversimplifies things but what’s important is that influence does shift and people do move out of the Harper circle. Flanagan and Boessenkool still get calls returned from Ottawa but it has been a while since they were part of the daily decision team. Brodie did nothing to lose influence over the political operation, but since it’s well in hand it will be possible to replace him with somebody who is more used to thinking over the long term.

Hence Guy Giorno. He worked in the Tory war room in the last election, but it is probably more germane that he was chief of staff in a majority Ontario government. The news of his (probable) appointment is raising a few eyebrows in Ottawa. “Story being pushed hard out of Toronto,” one Tory told me in an email this morning. “Won’t help the new guy much, though he is competent, as PM will be pissed.” One presumes the leaks won’t be a deal-breaker. I’m not going to venture many guesses about what the future holds, but it would be wrong to assume the new guy will be only a custodian of the Brodie legacy. Stephen Harper does not have much patience for custodians.



  1. (All scandals, putative scandals or fake scandals get names ending in -gate. There are no exceptions. Resistance is futile.)

    While this sadly seems the case, may I posit that AdScam may have greater currency with the general public because of the novelty of its name (allowing that it was a turn on an FBI sting from the 1970s). Give them something new and you’d be surprised who pays attention.

  2. Giorno won’t be the next Chief of Staff, because Harper doesn’t need another failed Harris flack. He already has Muttart & Buckler.

    Brodie was fired because of incompetence. Finley will be next, and Buckler and Muttart will follow. Just because they talk to you, Paul Wells, doesn’t make them either smart or competent.

    The next chief of staff will be someone like a Gwyn Morgan or the current party president.

    I wonder if Brodie knew he was leaving before he read the papers today?

  3. I disagree with he ’18 months’ assumption. Mostly because I keep being solicited by the Liberals to contribute to the ‘Victory Fund”, and the pamphlets telling me what the conservatives are doing wrong (Liberals, various others) or what they are doing right (Conservatives) BTW, I got a pamphlet today declaring that the gun registry is being scrapped. Why hasn’t that been i the newspapers?

  4. Actually, most of the people on that list don’t talk to me, which makes them smart and competent.

  5. Gwyn Morgan! I’ve always secretly suspected that Stephen Harper will not rest until he’s managed to get Gwyn Morgan a government job. I had him pegged to head up the inquiry into the Mulroney/Schreiber affair, but this would work too.

  6. So now Harper’s gone from Mulroney advice/advisers/cronyism – because he can’t let on he’s still friends with him to Mike Harris advice/advisers/cronyism.

    Oh no – Mike Harris is taking over federal government – Baird/Flaherty/Clement…

    What is the matter with MSM these days? Obsession with Dion, his caucus, wink wink, nudge nudge – and ignoring things like CSIS/funding/secrets, etc.?

  7. I hope we get a book from Brodie.

  8. Calling Ian Brodie incompetent is like saying Stephane Dion has thus far been the most charismatic, successful leader of the official opposition in Canadian history.

    I’ll admit I’m biased, but at least I’m not posting “anon”ymously.

  9. Rather than put the emphasis on majority you may have chosen Ontario. If the rumour is true I’d say the ram has touched the wall.

  10. That you, Emmett?

  11. Yes. Fine. I’ll use my full name…

  12. Kady O’Malley says: “Gwyn Morgan! I’ve always secretly suspected that Stephen Harper will not rest until he’s managed to get Gwyn Morgan a government job. I had him pegged to head up the inquiry into the Mulroney/Schreiber affair, but this would work too.”

    Apparently Gwyn Morgan is overqualified for work in a Kady-friendly liberal government that appoints people based on party affiliation.

    Mr. Morgan, Canada’s #1 CEO, was going to work for $1/year to try and end patronage in our political system by chairing an all-party commission to ensure that appointments were merit-based and appointees were qualified.

    Somehow our media interpret that to mean Gwyn Morgan is a hack and Stephen Harper has made it his life’s work to appoint a billionaire to a plum government job that pays 10 cents an hour.

    Kady’s intuition is hackery at its finest.

  13. Actually, it has nothing really to do with Gwyn Morgan, and everything to do with our Prime Minister’s stubbornness. The man *shut down his planned appointments commission* because a House committee panned his first choice to head it up. It wasn’t even binding. It was just — silly.

  14. In dealing with the civil service it’s been said that the federal Conservatives haven’t yet lost their opposition mentality. Of course Paul, you’ve chalked THAT one up a “small government” philosophy.

    Was this the influence of the “sometimes cruel” Brodie who fought with the Conservatives out of the electoral hinterlands into government? Might Giorno change this?

    I would guess not myself.

  15. Actually Kady, if our Prime Minister was as stubborn as you say he’d have gone ahead and appointed Gwyn Morgan anyway.

    That is, Harper could have done exactly what Paul Martin did when Glen Murray was appointed to chair the Roundtable on the Economy and Environment despite having experience in neither. Glen Murray’s appointment was also opposed by a House Committee but a “stubborn and silly” Prime Minister appointed him anyway.

    Gwyn Morgan, one of the country’s most respected businessmen, was being appointed to make sure there would never be another Glen Murray at the public trough. Nice try though.

    Keep up the good work. Its only a matter of time before that hidden agenda decoder ring starts paying dividends.

  16. Actually, the equivalent would have been for Paul Martin to abolish the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment. Note that I didn’t say it would have been stubborn and silly for the current PM to have told the committee to pound sand and gone ahead with his appointment. (I did note that the committee’s recommendation wasn’t even binding.) Are you seriously going to argue that there was not one other person in the country who could have filled that position? Really? Isn’t it possible that Stephen Harper might just have overreacted a teensy bit?

  17. This all started with your suggestion that “Stephen Harper will not rest until he’s managed to get Gwyn Morgan a government job”.

    I figured it might be important to point out that perhaps billionare Gwyn Morgan doesn’t need or want a government job. And, if he did take one at his self-proposed $1/year wage, it would be a great day for Canada and her taxpayers – not the unbridled cronyism you were implying.

    I doubt you want to debate the merits of Gwyn Morgan and Glen Murray. As you may know, Murray is a failed star liberal candidate in a riding that Paul Martin made available only by appointing incumbent MP John Harvard as Lt. Governer of MB. At the low, low price of $200,000/year and a free mansion – it was a small price to pay to clear the way for Glen Murray (a high school graduate and former Canada Post employee) to serve the country. When he lost the election, he was appointed Chair of The National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy.

    The House Committee rejected Murray because he was grossly unqualified and admitted as much. In Morgan’s case, the committee, in one of the most disgusting displays I’ve ever seen rejected him because he made some remarks in a speech they deemed insensitive towards refugees vs. economic immigration.

    Note that I did not argue that “there was not one other person in the country who could have filled that position”. I suppose you can call Harper stubborn for not wanting to subject other respectable Canadians to a kangaroo court and trial on their personal morality and cultural sensitivity.

    We’re arguing semantics but I’d rather have a “stubborn” PM committed to ending cronyism than a stubborn one who’s life has been defined by it (see Paul Martin and Canada Steamship Lines takeover).

    Not that the facts matter, nor should they impede your borderline hatred for all things conservative. Carry on.

  18. But he is essentially a combat chief-of-staff.

    So we are getting our own Tom Hagen?

  19. Glen Murray was as qualified to be on the Round Table on Environment and Economy as anyone who was ever there, cetainly more than people who try to characterize him as “a failed candidate.”

    He was the former mayor of a major city in Canada, and made serious attempts at reforming that city’s budget process, with proposals for sustainability (economic and ecological) that were made in consultation with, and supported by the International Institute for Sustainable Development,the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and local environmentalists.

    He also showed leadership nationally on urban sustainability through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Big City Mayors Conference.

    It’s just fine with me if some people opposed his candidacy for the position at the Round Table did so because of his partisan connection, or becasue you don’t like him, but the people who say he was unqualified don’t know enough about sustainability themselves to judge someone who does. He could both calculate and bicycle circles around you.

    Btw, I’m not a Liberal, and I’ve had my own disagreements with Glen Murray, but those arguments were generally because he knew better. I’m sorry, he actually knows something that you don’t.

  20. Toby said : “Btw, I’m not a Liberal, and I’ve had my own disagreements with Glen Murray, but those arguments were generally because he knew better.”

    Why would you argue with someone you consider to have more knowledge than you on every issue? Sounds like sadomasochism to me. Consequently, I won’t give you the *pleasure* of losing an argument to me.

  21. I meant that he was making compromises that undermined the intent of his initiatives.

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