WASHINGTON – The next U.S. ambassador to Canada is seeking the advice of Canadians about what places he needs to discover in the country.
Bruce Heyman was sworn in by Vice-President Joe Biden at a ceremony Wednesday at the U.S. State Department. He’s now preparing to come to Canada, where he will officially become ambassador once he presents his credentials to the Governor General.
The Chicago investment banker and Democratic fundraiser had been forced to wait several months for his confirmation, amid gridlock in the U.S. Senate.
He and his wife, Vicki, released a video expressing their eagerness to meet Canadians and discover the country. They asked Canadians for their input through social media on what sights they need to see once they arrive.
They also posted several pictures — moving boxes at their house; the prayer book Heyman was sworn in on, inherited by his grandfather who immigrated from Lithuania; and a selfie with Canada’s U.S. ambassador Gary Doer after breakfast and a visit to what Vicki called the “gorgeous” Canadian embassy in Washington.
“Our family has admired and supported President Obama for many years,” Heyman said in a video scene from the front of the White House, released on social media.
“Here at the White House, we’re again reminded of what an honour it is that he has entrusted me to represent the United States as ambassador to our closest friend and neighbour, Canada.”
In the video, Heyman said his old job was to help businesses reach their full potential. He said he wants to do the same with the Canada-U.S. relationship, and called economic prosperity his top priority.
His tenure will likely see a definitive moment on a key Canada-U.S. file — the approval or rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. Under questioning from John McCain during his Senate confirmation hearing, Heyman declined to disclose his preferred outcome.
One witness at Wednesday’s swearing-in said Biden made remarks about the Canada-U.S. relationship.
The vice-president recited statistics about the importance of Canada and said Americans don’t hear about it much because conflicts and crises get all the headlines, said Maryscott Greenwood, a former U.S. diplomat who now helps run the Canadian American Business Council.
Biden said it’s not just economics that make the U.S. grateful for Canada, but foreign policy too, as illustrated in the current dispute with Russia, according to an account of the private event tweeted by Greenwood.