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Ray Novak is Harper’s new chief of staff following Wright’s resignation

TORONTO – Global News has learned Ray Novak is the Prime Minister’s new chief of staff following Nigel Wright’s resignation.

Wright has resigned from his position as Stephen Harper’s chief of staff after it was revealed he helped former Conservative senator Mike Duffy pay back $90,000 in improper housing claim expenses.

Sources have told Global News the prime minister will be sending a stern message to his caucus when they meet on Tuesday, that he will not tolerate these kind of ethical breaches.

Novak, 35, is a longtime friend and advisor. The longest-serving member of Harper’s inner circle, Novak became Harper’s executive assistant in 2001. He was named principal secretary in 2008.

According to a statement released to the media Sunday morning, Nigel Wright said that Harper has accepted his resignation.

He said the Prime Minister had no knowledge he cut Duffy a check for $90,000.

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That cheque is now under scrutiny by the ethics commissioner.

“I regret the impact of this matter on the Government, our Caucus, and all of my colleagues, for whom I have the highest regard.  I came to Ottawa to do my part in providing good government for Canada, and that is all that I ever wanted and worked for in this role,” said Wright in his statement.

The Prime Minister’s press office issued the following statement on behalf of Harper shortly after:

“It is with great regret that I have accepted the resignation of Nigel Wright as my Chief of Staff.  I accept that Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest, but I understand the decision he has taken to resign.  I want to thank Nigel for his tremendous contribution to our Government over the past two and a half years.

“Our Government’s top priority is, and will continue to be, securing jobs and economic growth for Canada.  This is the focus of all our efforts and attention.”

Watch: Conservative MPs weigh in on the Senate scandal.

A spokesperson for Stephen Harper had previously said Wright would remain in his job.

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Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus to sit as an independent amid a controversy over his housing expense claims.

With files from The Canadian Press

PHOTOS: Ray Novak, new chief of staff for Prime Minister Stephen Harper