What is now a swirling Canada-U.S. controversy began on Feb. 26, when the usually circumspect Mr. Brodie was milling among droves of Canadian media on budget day in the stately old building that once housed Ottawa's train station.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff Ian Brodie watches from the back of the room during a photo op before the government caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)
Reporters were locked up there all day, examining the federal budget until they were allowed to leave once it was tabled in the House of Commons at 4 p.m.
Since the budget contained little in the way of headline-grabbing surprises, some were left with enough free time to gather around a large-screen TV to watch the latest hockey news on NHL trade deadline day.
Mr. Brodie wandered over to speak to Finance Department officials and chatted amiably with journalists — who appreciated this rare moment of direct access to the top official in Mr. Harper's notoriously tight-lipped government.
The former university professor found himself in a room with CTV employees where he was quickly surrounded by a gaggle of reporters while other journalists were within earshot of other colleagues.
At the end of an extended conversation, Mr. Brodie was asked about remarks aimed by the Democratic candidates at Ohio's anti-NAFTA voters that carried serious economic implications for Canada.
Since 75 per cent of Canadian exports go to the U.S., Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton's musings about reopening the North American free-trade pact had caused some concern.
Mr. Brodie downplayed those concerns.
"Quite a few people heard it," said one source in the room.
"He said someone from (Hillary) Clinton's campaign is telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt. . . That someone called us and told us not to worry."
Government officials did not deny the conversation took place.
Also reported in the Winnepeg Sun.
Campbell Clark Writes for The Globe and Mail:
Mr. Brodie, during the media lockup for the Feb. 26 budget, stopped to chat with several journalists, and was surrounded by a group from CTV.
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.
The Canadian Press cited an unnamed source last night as saying that several people overheard the remark.
The news agency quoted that source as saying that Mr. Brodie said that someone from Ms. Clinton'scampaign called and was "telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt."
The story was followed by CTV's Washington bureau chief, Tom Clark, who reported that the Obama campaign, not the Clinton's, had reassured Canadian diplomats.
Mr. Clark cited unnamed Canadian sources in his initial report.
There was no explanation last night for why Mr. Brodie was said to have referred to the Clinton campaign but the news report was about the Obama campaign. CTV president Robert Hurst declined to comment.
The Prime Minister's communications director, Sandra Buckler, has said that Mr. Brodie "does not recall" discussing the issue.
The thing that is unclear now is whether or not the "wink, wink" was fabricated by Brodie.
Either way, Obama and his campaign are completely vindicated.