OTTAWA — The leak of a confidential diplomatic discussion that rocked the U.S. presidential campaign began with an offhand remark to journalists from the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Ian Brodie.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed yesterday to use whatever investigative means necessary to find the source of leaks that, he said, were "unfair" to U.S. Democratic candidate Barack Obama and may have been illegal — although opposition leaders insisted the Conservatives cannot be trusted to investigate political players on their own team.
But the story that reverberated through the U.S. presidential campaign began as a terse, almost throwaway remark that Mr. Brodie made to journalists from CTV, according to people familiar with the events.
The conversation turned to the pledges to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement made by the two Democratic contenders, Mr. Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Brodie, apparently seeking to play down the potential impact on Canada, told the reporters the threat was not serious, and that someone from Ms. Clinton's campaign had even contacted Canadian diplomats to tell them not to worry because the NAFTA threats were mostly political posturing.
(Excerpts from Thursday's Globe and Mail)