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Mr. Wright has been thrust in the spotlight after cutting a $90,000 cheque to cover Senator Mike Duffy's improper housing expenses

Nigel Wright, chief of staff for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, out for an early morning run on April 4, 2013 in Ottawa. On most mornings, he wakes up at 4 a.m. and, before heading to the office, goes for a 20-kilometre run. On his 50th birthday, Mr. Wright will be spending it in the spotlight, just days after footing the $90,000 bill for Senator Mike Duffy’s improper housing expenses.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Wright has been a mysterious figure in the Harper government. Those close to Mr. Wright describe him as intelligent, energetic and universally respected. He also commands Mr. Harper’s respect like few others and acts “almost like a deputy prime minister,” according to one official.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Wright is pictured in a yearbook photo from the University of Toronto's Trinity College. He was raised in Burlington, Ont.

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Mr. Wright is pictured in another Trinity College yearbook photo. At Trinity, Mr. Wright encountered a remarkable group of contemporaries, including former Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsillie and Malcolm Gladwell, author of many bestselling books, including Outliers and The Tipping Point.

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ONEX President Gerald Schwartz chats with Mr. Wright, his then-lawyer, prior to their appearance before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications in 1999. Mr. Wright enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer before heading to Ottawa. “He’s a prodigious worker,” the billionaire Onex chieftain now says. “He is disciplined. He is thoughtful. He has excellent judgment. He has the right amount of caution; caution exceeding enthusiasm.”

Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press

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Mr. Wright is shown in Ottawa on Nov. 2, 2010. In part, he was drawn to Ottawa by Mr. Harper himself, with whom he shares much in common, including their backgrounds and values.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Mr. Wright appears as a witness at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on Parliament Hill in 2010. The Prime Minister’s Office has become even more businesslike with Mr. Wright’s arrival.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Mr. Harper and Mr. Wright pause in the House of Commons foyer following a statement concerning the ongoing crisis in Libya in 2011. “The PM takes Nigel seriously,” says one insider. “He respects Nigel’s intelligence because it’s not ostentatious.”

Jason Ransom/PMO

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