Tory Lawrence Cannon named ambassador to France

Former Conservative cabinet minister Lawrence Cannon, who lost his seat in the last election, has a new job as Canada's ambassador to France, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday.
Former foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon was named Canada's new ambassador to France on Thursday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Former foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon, who lost his Quebec seat in the last election, has a new job as Canada's ambassador to France.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment during question period on Thursday, saying Cannon has the necessary experience for the position.

Harper thanked the outgoing ambassador, Marc Lortie, a longtime diplomat who has been stationed in Paris since 2007.

Cannon is heading to Paris at a historic juncture in France's political history. Socialist François Hollande defeated conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday to become France's next president.

Hollande, who will be sworn in May 15, ran on a platform that rejects many of Sarkozy's austerity measures.

Cannon lost in his Pontiac riding last year to the NDP's Mathieu Ravignat. He was foreign affairs minister at the time and earlier had served as transport minister. Cannon was first elected to the House of Commons in 2006.

He worked in politics at the municipal and provincial levels before moving to federal politics.

Cannon was offered a position at the law firm Gowlings Lafleur Henderson in Ottawa following his defeat. He was named chair of the firm's government affairs group in October 2011.

"We are thrilled that Lawrence Cannon, someone who has served Quebec and Canada so capably for many years, has agreed to serve as ambassador to France," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said after question period.

"I think with a new French president, and shortly a new French government coming to office, I think it sends on day one a very strong signal the importance that Stephen Harper and the government of Canada place in our relationship with the French repubic and we're pretty pleased with it."

Baird said Cannon deserves the job and it's not a patronage appointment.

"I think any fair and reasonable person would look at Lawrence Cannon and say that he's not just qualified, but exceptionally well-qualified to serve as ambassador," Baird told reporters.

Normally diplomatic appointments are announced via press release, but Baird said it was done in the House of Commons by the prime minister because "we're tremendously proud of this appointment" and it gave Harper the opportunity to mark Hollande's victory.