Former New Brunswick premier David Alward has been appointed Canada's consul general in Boston.

David Alward

Former New Brunswick premier David Alward has been named the Canadian consul general in Boston. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson named Alward to the post on Friday.

Alward says he's looking forward to the new challenge as Canada's top diplomat in the northeast United States.

"I have an opportunity to serve Canada, certainly to serve New Brunswick, going forward — if we think about the work that's done with trade, consular work, diplomacy as well, and I'm looking forward to getting that going," he said.

Premier Brian Gallant Gallant congratulated Alward on the appointment, saying he has "strong respect" for the former premier.

'We are pleased to have a New Brunswicker and a former premier of our province representing our country in such an important position.' - Brian Gallant, premier

‎"We are pleased to have a New Brunswicker and a former premier of our province representing our country in such an important position," Gallant said in a statement.

"Boston is a place which has always been a strong economic partner for New Brunswick. It is our hope that former premier David Alward's appointment will build on that relationship to help spur economic growth for our province."

Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Bruce Fitch says he's "delighted" with Alward's appointment, describing him as "a man with strong and unwavering values and convictions."

Green Party Leader David Coon also offered his congratulations. "A fantastic choice," he said.

Byelection required

Alward says his last day as Tory MLA for Carleton will be on May 22.

A byelection will have to be called in his riding within six months.

The Canadian government has 12 consulates general offices in the United States to provide services and resources to Canadians and Americans.

The Boston office covers Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Alward, who had dual citizenship, had to renounce his U.S. citizenship to accept the diplomatic posting there.

The Boston consulate post has been held by other Maritime ex-premiers, including Nova Scotia's Donald Cameron and P.E.I.'s Patrick Binns, whom Alward is replacing.

'Very much like the job he had'

Binns, who held the job from 2010 until earlier this year, says as a former political leader, Alward will be a good fit.

"The fact that David understands the political system and how it works is a big attribute," said Binns.

"It's very much like the job he had in New Brunswick, dealing with governments there, making sure they understand the issues that are important to Canada and the provinces."

As consul general, Binns spoke publicly when activists in Portland, Maine campaigned against the idea of Alberta oil being shipped via a pipeline that runs from Montreal to the U.S. city's port.

"We spent quite a bit of time talking to legislators and municipalities about the pipeline … and trying to set the record straight," he said.

David Coon congratulates David Alward on his consul general appointment

Green Party Leader David Coon congratulated David Alward on his new post on Friday. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

While the consulate in Boston represents Canada's interests as a whole, it pays particular attention to the historical and economic ties between eastern Canada and New England, said Binns.

"New England's very important to Canada, particularly to Quebec and the east," he said.

The consulate has about 20 employees.

Binns says while it might be seen as a political appointment, it's an advantage for American political and business leaders to know the consul general has a good relationship with the Canadian government and speaks on its behalf. 

​Alward served one term as premier before his Progressive Conservative government was defeated by Brian Gallant's Liberals in the provincial election in September 2014.

Alward retained his seat in the election, but resigned as party leader and has been sitting as an Opposition member.

He was first elected in 1999 as the member for Woodstock and served 16 consecutive years as a member of the legislative assembly, including as minister of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture between 2003 and 2006.