OTTAWA — The appointment of Ray Novak as the prime minister’s new chief of staff could signal larger changes in Stephen Harper’s office.

Novak, 36, has been at Harper’s side for over a decade. Up until Sunday, he served as Harper’s principal secretary.

Fiercely loyal to the prime minister and discreet, Novak once lived on top of Harper’s garage at Stornoway when he was leader of the official Opposition.

"This will be a really big change for Ray. He's always had a lot of influence but not a lot of responsibility," one source told HuffPost Canada.

Former Conservative staffer Jason Lietaer said Novak is “competent and trusted by all those who know him and have worked with him.”

“He blends in with the scenery, by choice, but don't ever mistake that humility for the fact that he's as good a strategist and tactician as they come,” he wrote in an email to HuffPost Canada.

A colleague of his described him as "even-handed and level-headed" and respectful of caucus.

"He won't be a mico-manager. He'll build a good team of Harper loyalists and will let them do their jobs," Novak's colleague said.

Another source noted, "Whether he wants it or not, Ray is the right man for the job."

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  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen with Dimitri Soudas, Mike Beaton and Ray Novak following an impromptu ball-hockey game on the tarmac prior to boarding his campaign plane in Kitchener Ont., on Saturday, April 9, 2011.

  • Ray Novak pictured in Montreal on the Harper campaign on Sept. 11, 2008.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with Ray Novak and security personnel, look down the hallway at the media on the way to Harper's office after question period in the House of Commons on Monday March 26, 2007.

  • Ray Novak, pictured with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's then-Director of Communications Sandra Buckler and Senior Communications advisor Stephane Rondeau, as the prime minister talks with the media following a secret meeting with his cabinet on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday March 28, 2006

  • Stephen Harper, Ray Novak and then-Press Secretary Carolyn Stewart-Olsen leave a news conference in London, Ont. Friday, June 4, 2004.

  • MORE: Twitter Reacts To Nigel Wright's Resignation

  • Andrew Nixon

    PM Harper's Chief Of Staff, Nigel Wright, has resigned over the Senate expense repayment scandal. Smart move. Time to clean house. #cdnpoli

  • nuhasalloum


  • Seedy Roads

    RT @crankykady: NIGEL 'SRSLY, ON A SUNDAY?' WRIGHT.

  • Ryan R Ross

    PMO just issued a statement saying chief of staff Nigel Wright has resigned. #cdnpoIi

  • The Roy Green Show

    Nigel Wright's resignation as PM's Chief of Staff was absolutely going to happen. Mike Duffy will you let your friend go alone? #fb

  • B.Jones-Vaillancourt

    #Cdnpoli So, Duffy, Wallin and now @pmharper 's chief of staff Nigel Wright has resigned. The scandal continues! #fireharper

  • Dan

    Clearly Nigel Wright and Stephen Harper are in way over their heads. #cdnpoli

  • Gerry Rogers

    Yup.... Nigel Wright-off. #nlpoli #nlndp #CPCdroppinglikeflies

  • TheHarperGovernment

    All Cdns s/ thank Nigel Wright for offering a mere glimpse into what goes on in My #PMO. #cdnpoli

  • Colin MacKay

    Nigel Wright paid, as a gift, to essentially stop an audit. Audit compromised? Was it ever finished? #cdnpoIi #accountability #ethics

  • bdthomson

    Prime Minister accepts letter of resignation from Nigel Wright. #duffygate

  • Michael Taube

    Nigel Wright is an intelligent, honest and decent individual. He made a serious error in judgment, and did the right thing in stepping down.

  • Kevin Aubie

    Nigel Wright says most controlling PM in history didn't know. Might as well end with a whopper! #pmharpermustresign #cdnpoli #lpc #ndp #gpc

  • Kaz Nejatian

    I don't think I've ever known anyone more competent and dedicated than Nigel Wright.

  • JimmyBlack&Gold

    Nigel Wright falls on sword for his boss and party. #CDNpoli

  • Ryan Torrie

    Crazy Sunday morning. Nigel wright of pmo resigns #cdnpoIi

  • Trevor Harrison

    Let me get this right - Jason Spezza IN, Nigel Wright OUT?

  • Justine Lewkowicz

    Harper's response: "It is with great regret that I have accepted the resignation of Nigel Wright as my Chief of Staff..." #cdnpoli

  • Kristi Colleen

    Hey, Nigel Wright, now that you don't have a job, maybe Mike Duffy will loan you some money.

  • Justin Irwin

    Harper should write Nigel Wright a $90,000 cheque for resigning

After news broke that Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright had cut a $90,000 cheque to Sen. Mike Duffy in order to facilitate the repayment of inappropriate living expenses, Novak brought in former PMO issues management director Jenni Byrne, now the director of political operations at the Conservative Party, to help handle the crisis.

The move could be indicative of further changes to come, some of Novak’s colleagues speculated.

Although Wright was praised for his smarts, some Conservatives say there was a feeling that the PMO was not as political as it should be. Novak is expected to change the tide in preparation for the next election.

Several sources declined to speak to The Huffington Post Canada about Novak on the record. The Ottawa Valley native doesn’t like the spotlight and shies away from it. He keeps a low profile on purpose. Friends and staff describe him as very hardworking – a man who is the office late in the evenings and on weekends.

He is on the right of the Conservative Party and has been involved in partisan politics since his university days. He was a young Reform Party activist. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario and had former Harper’s chief of staff Ian Brodie as one of his professors. He moved to Calgary to pursue a master’s degree in political science.

Despite being on the right, sources say Novak is not a social conservative. One colleague described him as “pragmatic.”

Novak is a staunch monarchist. He was behind the decision to rename the navy the Royal Canadian Navy. He is said to have close relations with Buckingham Palace and was instrumental in organizing several visits by the Royal Family to Canada.

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