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Ian Brodie, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, is expected to leave the Prime Minister's Office this summer, signalling a shake-up in time for a fall election.

Mr. Brodie is one of Mr. Harper's closest confidants and a chief architect of his 2006 election victory. Mr. Brodie is expected to leave in July, sources said last night. A rumoured potential replacement is Guy Giorno, a onetime chief of staff to former Ontario premier Mike Harris.

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Mr. Giorno, who is currently with corporate law firm Fasken Martineau, is considered one of the country's leading experts on lobbying registration law. He is not a member of the Harper inner circle, but is said to have been helping with the crafting of the next federal Conservative election campaign since some time last year.

Sources said Mr. Brodie made the decision before the delivery of a report looking into leaks of information regarding the North American free-trade agreement, which influenced the Democratic primary race in the United States. The report, while finished, has not been released, and sources close to Mr. Brodie said last night that the former political-science professor from the University of Western Ontario had already been mulling over his departure. Mr. Brodie was at the centre of the controversy over the leaks.

The leaks led to reports that Democratic hopeful Barack Obama's campaign had reassured Canadian diplomats through back channels that Mr. Obama's calls for renegotiating NAFTA were political rhetoric, not serious plans.

The leaks hurt Mr. Obama before two crucial Democratic Party primaries in Texas, and especially in Ohio, where Hillary Clinton's campaign was revived with strong showings.

It was later alleged that Mr. Brodie told reporters during the news media lockup for the Feb. 26 budget that Ms. Clinton's campaign had reassured Canadian diplomats that her tough talk on NAFTA was just posturing, although that wasn't what was subsequently reported. Mr. Harper appointed Kevin Lynch, the Clerk of the Privy Council, to conduct an internal investigation into the matter.

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