OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals have wiped the diplomatic slate clean of several high-profile appointments made by the previous Conservative government with a major shuffle of the top ranks of Canada's foreign service.
All are career public servants, and three of them are replacing political appointees of the Harper government in the United Kingdom, Iraq and the Israel.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion announced the appointment of 26 new ambassadors and high commissioners — 13 men, 13 women — in a major shuffle the government says is intended to ensure diplomats represent a wide diversity of Canadians.
UK, Middle East appointments replaced
In the United Kingdom, former British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell is being replaced by the former clerk of the privy council, Janice Charette. Campbell's term was set expire last summer but he was given a one-year extension.
Charette, who left the clerk's job in January after little more than a year, will arrive in London as the historic negotiations begin for the U.K. to leave the European Union after last month's referendum.
In the Middle East, Dion is replacing the heads of two missions whose appointments both drew criticism for being too partisan.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper had appointed the former head of his RCMP security detail, Bruno Saccomani, as the ambassador to Jordan but he is now being replaced. The Jordan mission oversaw neighbouring Iraq, where Canada has no embassy.
Saccomani, who was appointed three years ago, spent much of his time in Iraq, as the diplomatic spearhead of Canada's military engagement in the U.S.-led military coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Bruno Saccomani speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, at the UNHCR Headquarters in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (Photo: AP)
Prior to his appointment, Saccomani faced criticism for his management style while in charge of the more than 100 Mounties that made up the prime minister's security detail, but he quickly won the respect of many of his new diplomatic employees in the Middle East.
His successor, Peter MacDougall, is a veteran public servant who most recently was the assistant secretary to the cabinet for foreign and defence policy, where he would have worked on the government's new mission to combat ISIL.
Canada's ambassador to Israel, Vivian Bercovici, is also gone just two years after her controversial appointment by the Harper government. The Toronto lawyer and former top adviser to the former Ontario finance minister Ernie Eves was seen as a harsh critic of Palestinian leadership.
Bercovici is being replaced by Deborah Lyons, who was previously Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan. Lyons joined the public service in 1983 and developed expertise across a wide spectrum of portfolios.
New Canadian heads of mission will also be arriving in other key posts, including Turkey, Pakistan, Japan, Colombia and Hong Kong.