Brodie - Macleans.ca

Brodie

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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.