Gordon Campbell among new diplomatic appointments

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell and the bureaucrat in charge of the controversial G8 and G20 summits are on the list of new diplomatic appointments announced Monday.
Former British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell was named Canada's new high commissioner to Britain on Monday. (Geoff Howe/Canadian Press)

Former British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell is on the list of new diplomatic appointments announced Monday — along with the bureaucrat in charge of the controversial G8 and G20 summits.

Campbell was named Canada's new high commissioner in Britain, a move that CBC reported in June would be announced imminently, while summit chief organizer Sanjeev Chowdhury is the new consul general in Brazil.

Campbell's elevation to one of Canada's highest diplomatic posts comes after he resigned last fall as B.C.'s Liberal premier, as his popularity plummeted following his government's disastrous unveiling of the 12 per cent harmonized sales tax.

Campbell stepped down after 26 years in politics, nine of them as premier.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, speaking to reporters from Mexico, praised Campbell's work as a premier. He said a high-level political appointee as high commissioner was important for the Canada-U.K. relationship, especially as Canada negotiates a wide-ranging free trade agreement with the EU.

"We're pleased that Gordon will be a high-level political emissary to promote Canadian interests and values in London," Baird said. "On the trade side, he's someone who understands the importance of job creation and economic growth and will be invaluable to help promote our relationship in a major trading partner."

It's not the first time Prime Minister Stephen Harper has reached across partisan political lines to make high-profile diplomatic appointments. In 2009, he appointed Manitoba's former NDP premier Gary Doer as his ambassador to Washington — considered Canada's top diplomatic posting.

Chowdhury is a longtime bureaucrat, first joining the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1995. He has had a varied career since then, having worked in media relations, as a financial analyst, serving as the assistant trade commissioner in Mumbai, the consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, acting high commissioner to Sri Lanka and as acting consul general in Mumbai.

Back in Ottawa in 2007, he held two director positions related to Canada’s role in Afghanistan and became director of operations on the Afghanistan Task Force at the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic arm of Harper's office.

In 2009, he was appointed director general of programs at the Summits Management Office, the office that co-ordinated Canada's hosting of the G8 and G20 meetings in June 2010. The announcement of Chowdhury's new posting comes on the same day as the NDP blasted the Conservative government for its handling of the G8 legacy infrastructure fund.

A number of other diplomatic appointments were announced Monday:

  • Yves Brodeur becomes ambassador and permanent representative to NATO.
  • Glenn Davidson becomes ambassador to Afghanistan.
  • Elissa Golberg was named ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
  • Guillermo Rishchynski becomes ambassador and permanent representative to the UN in New York City.
  • Mario Ste-Marie becomes consul general in Australia.
  • Roman Waschuk becomes ambassador to Serbia. 
  • Gary Luton was named ambassador to Qatar.
  • Ivan Roberts becomes ambassador to Burkina Faso.
  • Benoît-Pierre Laramée becomes high commissioner to Cameroon.

Canada's new ambassador in Afghanistan had a long career in the Canadian navy before he retired and became ambassador to Syria in 2008. Davidson was a vice-admiral who commanded Maritime Forces Atlantic, and served as the Canadian military representative at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Golberg has more experience in Afghanistan than Davidson but she is headed to Geneva. She worked for the Privy Council Office as executive director of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan in 2007, and from 2008 to 2009 she was in Afghanistan as Canada's representative in Kandahar. She then became director general of the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force in 2009.

Brodeur, the new representative to NATO, also has experience working on the Afghanistan task force.