A professional is on the job.

Kirsten Hillman of Global Affaires Canada has been appointed Canada’s ambassador to the United States of America. She has been in the job in an acting capacity since the departure of political appointee David MacNaughton to take part in the federal election last year. It is certainly a time when we need a professional diplomat on the job.

While Canada has always tended to have a political person in the hyper-intense political environment of Washington, Donald Trump in the presidency has changed that. He leaves those with just some political expertise lost and in the dark. He is not a political animal. He might be a lot of things, but he is no politician. The last three years have been a learning experience for all of us.

The appointment of Hillman as deputy ambassador in 2017 was in recognition of her expertise in international trade agreements. She was our general in the battles over NAFTA 2. While Canada’s foreign affairs was Chrystia Freeland’s bailiwick at the time, Hillman must have been the source of much of the strategy.

As a professional diplomat Hillman must spend hours in Washington just making sure she is retaining her cool visage. She can probably run rings around Trump’s ambassadors to Canada. Both the first appointee, Kelly Craft, and the more recent appointee, Aldona Wos, are best noted for the large amounts they (or a husband) donated to the Trump and republican party campaigns.

These ‘bought and paid for’ ambassadorships go back a long way in American history and the Americans have been roundly criticized for it over the years. I remember back in the mid 1970s the former Hollywood child star Shirley Temple Black had been appointed ambassador to Ghana by president Gerald Ford. The Ghana leadership felt insulted by the appointment. My wife and I met Shirley at a conference in Spain during that time and it was very obvious that she was not happy in that posting. I think she reached her ideal in political appointments for Foggy Bottom later when she was, briefly, chief of protocol for the United States.

But what can you say for a person who reached the peak of her career when she was eight-years old?


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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