08/30/2011 07:06 EDT | Updated 10/30/2011 05:12 EDT

Dimitri Soudas, Harper Communications Director, Says Goodbye To Politics, Mum On Replacement


OTTAWA -- The prime minister's spin-doctor Dimitri Soudas said goodbye to the media Tuesday but stayed mum on naming his replacement.

Soudas, a feisty Montrealer of Greek origin, has been at Stephen Harper's side for nine years.

The 32-year-old worked his way up from a junior staffer in Harper's opposition office to the job of director of communications for the prime minister.

Known for his fierce loyalty to Harper, Soudas told The Huffington Post Canada he served faithfully because he looked up to his boss.

"For those who do not have a role model in life, and I did not. For those who don't, he is the perfect one," he said. "It's very easy to be loyal to him."

During a briefing on Harper's upcoming trip to Europe to discuss the situation in Libya, Soudas took the time to read a letter he had penned to the press gallery with whom he has often had tense relationships.

He joked about waking up before dawn, his BlackBerry buzzing from a reporter's call and falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning after bombarding journalists with complaints about their stories.

"I do, after all, have the responsibility to correct each and every media story that has been filed on the web, television, wire, print, even on Twitter because they contain errors that I simply had to politely, calmly and charmingly correct in order to ensure that they didn't lose any of the credibility they had with their readers," he said.

Although Soudas' said in June he was quitting on September 5 to join the private sector and spend more time with his wife and three young children, his replacement hasn't been officially announced.

Sources say Harper’s chief-of-staff Nigel Wright has made a decision although he has had a tough time filling Soudas’ position.

Two external candidates, Jason Lietaer, the man who ran the communications shop for the Conservatives during the last election and Dan Robertson, a former senior communications advisor in the Prime Minister's Office, were each offered the job but declined for family reasons.

They've both moved on from government and are now working as communication strategists in Toronto.

The strongest internal candidate was Andrew MacDougall, one of Harper’s press secretaries.

MacDougall told HuffPost if a decision had been made, it hadn’t been communicated to him.

"I honestly don't know," he said.

MacDougall had kind and generous words for his boss, whom he described as a "tireless worker."

"I like to kid around that it's a job 24/7 but it looks like (Soudas) works more than that. And as much as he asks of you, he does more himself and that kind of drive makes you want to perform better," MacDougall said.

The press secretary, who has been at Harper's side for nearly three years, said he felt that Soudas' biggest influence on the Conservative government's communications team was asking them to be "really active and engaged with the press" -- a reversal of direction from previous leadership -- as well as intensely focusing on multicultural and third-language media.

"That's really something that he has spearheaded," MacDougall said.

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