New U.S. ambassador to Canada Kelly Knight Craft to start job in October
Knight Craft has strong relationships with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan
United States President Donald Trump's pick for Ambassador to Canada will start her new job in October, the U.S. embassy has confirmed.
"The Ambassador-designate is very much looking forward to her arrival," a spokesperson for the embassy told CBC. "She still has a number of obligations in the United States and expects to arrive in early October."
Kelly Knight Craft was sworn in as ambassador to Canada last Friday, by Kentucky governor and longtime friend Matt Bevin.
"This is the highest professional honour of my life, but I'm also sobered by the challenges and opportunity this service provides," Knight Craft said in a statement released by the governor's office.
The Ambassador-designate still has to present her credentials to the Governor General before officially taking her post. A date for that is still to be confirmed.
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The Trump administration wanted Knight Craft in her post for NAFTA talks, which began in Washington D.C. on August 16. By the time she is in place, however, the third round of trade talks will have just been completed in Ottawa.
Knight Craft says she plans to support U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on cross-border trade issues.
A Trump supporter
At her U.S. Senate committee hearing in July, she said, "I will work tirelessly to further enhance our strong economic partnership."
"I believe we can do even better," she told the committee. "If confirmed, I will seek new opportunities to foster further growth to create more jobs for both countries, while promoting free and fair trade to ensure that American businesses and workers can compete on a level playing field."
Knight Craft is well connected to top ranking Republicans and is known as an effective party fundraiser.
She and her billionaire husband, coal magnate Joe Craft, threw their support behind Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign.
Their backing was based partly on a promise from the Trump team to allow key GOP members to keep their positions, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
A well connected ambassador
But in recent weeks, Trump has lashed out at McConnell on twitter, complaining about his inability to repeal and replace Obamacare.
"The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal and Replace for 7 years, he failed! That should NEVER have happened!" Trump tweeted on Thursday.
Knight Craft's connection to senior party members is welcome by officials within the Prime Minister's Office.
Ottawa has launched a so-called charm offensive to reach out to U.S. politicians at all levels to discuss Canadian concerns, mostly around trade.
By having the ear of influential Republicans, Liberal government is hopeful Knight Craft will be able to raise Canada's issues at the highest levels when needed.