02/27/2015 05:17 EST | Updated 04/29/2015 05:59 EDT

Prime minister salutes work of top trade bureaucrat

OTTAWA - The prime minister is honouring one of Canada's top trade negotiators with a top award for achievement in public service.

Ian Burney has had a hand in trade pacts with the European Union, South Korea, Jordan and several Latin American countries, in various senior roles inside the bureaucracy.

During a ceremony hosted by Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall, Burney said Harper had the mettle to make the tough decisions on domestic policy that helped pave the way to successful deals.

Burney joked that in younger years he never imagined such work would become a family business — his father Derek Burney was chief of staff to former prime minister Brian Mulroney and helped negotiate the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement.

In presenting Burney with the Public Service of Canada's Outstanding Achievement Award, Harper saluted his work as key to creating jobs and economic growth.

He also described Canada's public service as the best in world.