The Prime Minister's retiring chief of staff and Canada's ambassador to Washington did not leak classified information about U.S. Senator Barack Obama's plans to renegotiate NAFTA, a federal probe has found.
However, the report said the Foreign Affairs Department was wrong to e-mail an internal report outlining Mr. Obama's confidential position to 232 government officials, one of whom likely leaked it to The Associated Press in March.
"The original diplomatic report was incorrectly classified and had an inappropriately broad distribution list," said the report, written by Privy Council Clerk Kevin Lynch, the country's top civil servant.
The opposition said the investigation into "NAFTA-gate" was incomplete and should have identified the federal official who undermined Mr. Obama's campaign to become president of the United States.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said there was no doubt the information that started the controversy was initially provided by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, Ian Brodie. Mr. Layton said the Prime Minister has to offer a "full apology" to Mr. Obama, and fire Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier for his department's role in the leak.
"The minister has to take responsibility," Mr. Layton said.
Friday's report concluded that Mr. Brodie had informal discussions with reporters from CTV News in February regarding attacks on the North American free-trade agreement made by candidates for the Democratic presidental nomination.
Mr. Brodie said the Canadian government had received assurances from Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign that her attacks against NAFTA were to be taken with a grain of salt.
CTV News did additional reporting on the story, and discussed the matter with Canada's ambassador to Washington, Michael Wilson. According to Friday's report, Mr. Wilson hinted the assurances had actually come from Mr. Obama's campaign. Media reports at the time said the signal had been provided by Mr. Obama's economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, to Canada's consul-general in Chicago, Georges Rioux.
A summary of that meeting was leaked to The Associated Press in early March, with Mr. Goolsbee quoted as saying that calls to revamp NAFTA "should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."
Mr. Goolsbee disputed the report, which became a major political headache for Mr. Obama's campaign.
The Canadian government launched a probe into who leaked the report in response to opposition allegations that it was done to hurt Mr. Obama's campaign.
Investigators hired from a private security firm looked at a number of government e-mail accounts and phone logs, but could not determine who printed the report and faxed it to an AP reporter.
Mr. Brodie said he did not remember discussing NAFTA with reporters, but the report concluded that Mr. Brodie had obtained information on the matter the previous day during a visit in Washington.
"Based on the sequence of events, it appears probable that Mr. Brodie spoke to the reporter on the subject of NAFTA," the report said.
The report said there is no evidence that either Mr. Brodie or Mr. Wilson "disclosed any classified information."
Mr. Brodie told his staff on Wednesday, two days before the release of the report, that he planned to leave his position, adeparture expected around July 1.
In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office agreed with recommendations to restrict the distribution of diplomatic notes within the government.
"I think it is very clear that Mr. Wilson and Mr. Brodie acted incorrectly," Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Friday. "They showed a lack of judgment and the report does not give any new light about that. The report just said it did not find any evidence to contradict their versions.''