Novak replaces Nigel Wright, who resigned on Sunday after it was revealed earlier this week that he personally wrote a $90,000 cheque to assist Sen. Mike Duffy repay his Senate expenses. Novak was Harper's principal secretary.
"This will be a really big change for Ray. He's always had a lot of influence but not a lot of responsibility," one colleague said of Sunday’s news.
Despite being a loyal member of Harper's inner circle, Novak, who has been described as a hard worker who doesn't seek the spotlight, has managed to keep a low public profile.
The 36-year-old from the Ottawa Valley attended the University of Western Ontario and studied under former Harper chief of staff Ian Brodie before heading to Calgary for post-graduate studies. According to Maclean's, he's worked for Harper since 2001 and at one point even lived above Harper's garage at Stornoway.
“He’s perhaps a perfect combination of trusted loyalist, strategist, interpreter, and maybe even horse whisperer,” Conservative insider Jim Armour and former Harper aide told Maclean's in 2010.
CTV's Robert Fife, who has done the lion's share of reporting on the senate expenses scandal tweeted this about Novak:
— Robert Fife (@RobertFife) May 19, 2013
He is on the right side of the Conservative party, but not a social conservative, a source said.
Novak is a staunch monarchist and was involved in the search for a new governor general back in 2010. According to the Hill Times, he was also reportedly key in adding "Royal" back in to the official names of Canada's navy and air force.
He is said to have close relations to Buckingham Palace, and has been instrumental in organizing many Royal Family trips to Canada.
Political consultant Michele Austin also tweeted about Novak's deep ties to the Reform Party:
Ray Novak fun facts: he was one of the first Reform Party policy interns, he studied with Tom Flanagan, he admires the monarchy greatly.
— Michele Austin (@MicheleOttawa) May 19, 2013
With files from Althia Raj