Circumpolar ambassador job axed

The federal government has abolished the position of ambassador for circumpolar affairs, saying it wants to save money.

The federal government has decided Canada no longer needs an ambassador for circumpolar affairs, putting former Nunavut MLA Jack Anawak out of a job.

The position, created in 1994 by the Liberal government, was cut to save money, a Foreign Affairs spokesman said. The duties will now be carried out by a senior bureaucrat.

Anawak, who was appointed in 2004, said the government's decision is an unfortunate one.

"In view of the fact that the Arctic Council is a very important body, and upcoming issues, like climate change and global warming, are very important issues that Arctic Council is dealing with, as well as the upcoming International Polar Year," he said.

Duane Smith, president of Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada), says the ambassador had direct access to federal ministers as well animportant role to play in Arctic Council issues.

The cut means northern groups will now have to cut through an extra layer of bureaucracy, Smith said.

Although there were concerns with Anawak's performance at times, Smith said the position should have been continued.

"It should be concerning for all the people living in the Arctic because the level of attention that the Arctic ambassador's office provided was immediate and dealt with all the issues directly," he said.

Foreign Affairs also cut the position of ambassador of the environment.