Canadian politics are, at time, softer than U.S. politics. The report on the NAFTA-gate investigation is likely one of those softer and gentler cases.
In February 2008, a chain of events started with a comment at the University of Chicago between one of Senator Obama's economic advisors and a representative of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade at the Canadian Consulate in Chicago. The comment suggested that the Democratic anti-NAFTA rhetoric would become more negative.
On February 13, 2008, a representative of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade drafted a memo on that conversation and did not classify the memo as top secret or confidential. That memo was was distributed to 232 e-mail addresses, 212 of which were at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the remaining eight were outside government.
On February 26, 2006, during the Cleveland Democratic Primary Debate, both Senators Clinton and Obama made negative statements about NAFTA. within a few days, a copy of the February 13th memo was in the hands of the media and the news reports suggested that Senator Obama was making negative statements on NAFTA in order to win critical votes in Ohio and the U.S. Rust Belt.
Some have suggested that Senator Obama did not win the majority of the votes in Ohio as a result of the "leak" by the Canadians.
Who was not to blame for the leak? The Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and Canada's Ambassador to Washington were exonerated.
Who was to blame? No one is to blame. The investigation did not determine which person "leaked" the document to the media. The investigators followed the emails of the document and looked at cell phone records of various individuals who handled the document. The two private investigators hired to find the leak could not point the finger at any individual.
That being said, the report indicates that procedures at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade need to be improved. The report found that the nature of the memo was not properly classified, which allowed for its wide distribution. As a result of the high profile nature of the NAFTA-gate problem, procedures were immediately tightened at Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The report makes further recommendations to improve security.
I have spent some time watching CNN and the many modern scandals in U.S. politics. In the United States, someone loses their job and someone gets blamed for high-profile mistakes.
The Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Ian Brodie, who was exonerated did step down this week with his reputation weathered but still very strong. No one has been asked to fall on a sword and commit political suicide - not even the author of the memo.
In my humble point of view, it was well known that NAFTA would take a beating in the Democratic Primary campaigns. Canadians do not vote in U.S. elections, so NAFTA is a valid target. No one should be surprised that Canada would take steps to down-play the negative talk.