You can't quit, you're fired!

No one knows whether Ian Brodie’s reportedly impending departure as the prime minister’s chief of staff has anything to do with his alleged role in the NAFTA kerfuffle (the leaking by persons unknown of the private views of one or possibly both leading Democratic contenders on the issue). For what it’s worth, most informed observers are inclined to say not, but we won’t know for sure until the release of the report by Kevin Lynch, the clerk of the Privy Council. Possibly we won’t know even then.

That has not stopped Liberal trade critic Navdeep Bains from issuing a press release demanding that Brodie be fired before he can quit, or indeed before Lynch’s report has been released. (Though Bains demands the report be released “immediately,” he wants Brodie fired “today.”) The whole shocking story:

Prime Minister Must Release Report on NAFTAgate Leaks

MISSISSAUGA – Given reports of his Chief of Staff Ian Brodie’s imminent resignation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper must release the Privy Council report on the NAFTAgate leaks immediately, Liberal International Trade Critic Navdeep Bains said today. 

“The government committed to releasing the report in the House of Commons, yet we now hear that the report is finished and sitting on Prime Minister’s desk,” said Mr. Bains. “This report deals with leaks from the highest levels of the Conservative government and it is grossly inappropriate for the Prime Minister to delay its release.” 

Mr. Bains’ made his comments in reaction to news that Mr. Brodie is resigning effective July 1st. Mr. Brodie was the alleged source of the first leak which created controversy on both sides of the border and affected Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign. Media reports have also suggested that Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, may have also played a role in confirming information about the leak to media. 

Prime Minister Harper committed to investigate this incident because, as he stated, “this kind of leaking of information is completely unacceptable and in fact may well be illegal.” 

“If the report indicates that Mr. Brodie was the source of the leak, and the recent actions of the PMO and media reports seem to indicate that is the case, the Prime Minister must fire him today,” said Mr. Bains. 

“This kind of blatant interference in the democratic process of another country, particularly a country like the United States, with whom we share such a vital relationship, cannot be swept under the rug. It is time Prime Minister Stephen Harper stops talking about accountability and starts showing some.”

For the record, we don’t actually know who leaked the information. We don’t even know if it was anyone in the government, let alone “from the highest levels.” The only thing we know about Brodie’s role at this point is that he offered his thoughts, assuming they were off the record, to some reporters in the budget lockup — about Clinton’s views, not Obama’s. And the only reason we know this is because one of the reporters was indiscreet enough to pass on his remarks in a speech to a journalism class — in effect, leaking them.

Never mind. Sentence first! Verdict after! Investigation last of all!

PS: Today is Thursday. The House of Commons, where the government “committed to releasing the report,” does not sit until Monday. It’s not clear how much more “immediately” the government could act, but it says here Lynch’s report is to be released late this week or early next. 

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