Althia Raj Headshot

Ray Novak Replacing Nigel Wright As Stephen Harper's Chief Of Staff May Indicate Further Changes

Posted: Updated:

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."

Story continues below slideshow

Close
Ray Novak
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

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.

Around the Web

Meet Ray Novak, the PM's new chief of staff

Ray Novak replacing Wright as Harper's chief of staff

Ray Novak on the Red Tory menace in 2001

PM's chief of staff Nigel Wright resigns in wake of Duffy controversy

Harper's chief of staff Nigel Wright resigns amid Duffy scandal

Goodbye to the fantastically frustrating Knicks