Politics

Ex-army commander Andrew Leslie to play key role in dealing with Trump administration

Retired army commander Andrew Leslie has been appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, and will take on "special responsibilities" for the crucial Canada-U.S. relations file.

Justin Trudeau appoints retired lieutenant-general as parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs

Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie has been appointed as parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and will play a key role in building Canada-U.S. relations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement Wednesday. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Retired army commander Andrew Leslie has been appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, and will take on "special responsibilities" for the crucial Canada-U.S. relations file.

A news release from the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Leslie, MP for the Ontario riding of Orléans, will play "a critical role in building ties with the new U.S. administration."

"As a retired lieutenant-general with years of experience working with the U.S., I know he has the necessary relationships and experience to help establish a constructive dialogue with the new U.S. administration," Trudeau said in a statement released Wednesday.

Leslie, who was first elected in 2015, currently serves as the chief government whip. He will assume his new duties as parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland starting on Jan. 30.

Donald Trump will be sworn in Friday as U.S. president.

Speaking in Sherbrooke, Que., on Wednesday, Trudeau said Canada would work to build ties with the incoming administration to promote trade and preserve millions of jobs.

Protecting jobs in Canada, U.S.

"We continue to work constructively with the new administration to protect jobs and opportunities on both sides of the border, because quite frankly, that's the commitment that both president-elect Trump and I got elected on," he said.

Leslie, along with former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, were two high-profile new MPs shut out of Trudeau's first cabinet in 2015.

Leslie was Canada's top commander in Afghanistan. He also drafted a report on transforming the Canadian Armed Forces for the 21st century. The findings put him at odds with some of the top brass at the Department of National Defence.

Andrew Leslie, who was named parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, is a retired general who commanded Canadian troops in Afghanistan. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)

Leslie's successor as government whip will be announced in coming days, according to the PMO. That role is critical in ensuring enough party members are in the chamber for debates and votes.

The whip also determines which committees a party member sits on, and assigns office space and seats in the House. 

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