May 22, 2008 / 3:25 PM / 10 years ago

Canada aide at heart of Obama leak to quit: media

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A top Canadian official blamed for triggering the leak of a memo that cast doubt on the sincerity of Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama will quit his job soon, Canadian media reported on Thursday.

<p>Ian Brodie, chief of staff for Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, attends a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 5, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

Newspapers said Ian Brodie, chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, will leave his position within the next few weeks.

Ottawa was severely embarrassed in March over the leak of a memo detailing a discussion between Canadian diplomats and a member of Obama’s team. The memo said the advisor indicated Obama’s campaign criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement was intended to gain political support and would not be acted on if Obama was elected.

After the leak, polls showed a drop in support for Obama.

Canadian opposition legislators said Brodie was to blame and demanded he resign. Brodie declined to comment.

Reporters fingered Brodie for the story, saying he had initially let slip that the campaign of Obama’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, had contacted Ottawa to say her attacks on NAFTA should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Media then investigated Obama’s stance on NAFTA, which led to stories about the memo.

An internal Canadian inquiry into the leak, which prompted a complaint from Washington, has yet to be completed.

If Brodie did quit, he would be the first member of Harper’s inner circle to leave since the Conservative Party took power in February 2006.

The right-leaning Conservatives, generally more comfortable with the Republicans than the Democrats, won on a platform that included bringing a higher ethical standard to politics and improving relations with the United States.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway

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