OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says former Liberal leader Stephane Dion will be Canadian ambassador to Germany—but not to the European Union and Europe, where he will now serve instead as a “special envoy.”
The announcement comes three months after the prime minister put forward Dion’s name to serve as ambassador to both the EU as well as Germany, an unsual dual posting that reportedly rankled some diplomats.
The Prime Minister’s Office says making Dion a special envoy followed consultations with European partners, in which “it was agreed that this appointment will best deliver” on Canada’s commitment to stronger ties.
Recent media reports by the website iPolitics suggest the notion of a dual ambassador didn’t go over well with the EU, which never formally extended a diplomatic invitation to Dion.
Dion, who had been foreign affairs minister until he was shuffled out of cabinet earlier this year, is to take up his new positions later this month.
The PMO statement says Dion will work with the existing mission to the EU and the current ambassador, Daniel Costello.
Trudeau said in a statement that Dion has a keen understanding of how the transatlantic relationship can help to advance shared values and interests.
“As my special envoy and Canada’s senior diplomatic voice in Europe, I know he will proudly represent Canada with courage and conviction in this next important chapter for him, for Canada and for the whole of Europe.”
Dion will face questions from MPs May 2 when he appears before the House of Commons foreign affairs committee.
He will be joined by his former cabinet colleague, John McCallum, the ex-immigration minister who was made Canada’s ambassador to China. McCallum was moved in the same January cabinet shuffle.
Unlike Dion, who took weeks to decide whether to accept a new diplomatic role, McCallum has embraced his new role and is already on the job in Beijing.
McCallum hosted two senior ministers in Beijing last week, Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, both of whom took part in a new senior economic dialogue with China’s vice premier.