WASHINGTON—It’s the end of an era for Canada’s most important diplomatic post as Gary Doer confirmed yesterday that his longer-than-usual stint as ambassador to the United States is about to conclude.
The popular former premier said he’ll help prepare the transition to a new Liberal government and will leave it to the incoming government to pick the specific departure date.
Rumours about his impending departure had been swirling for months given that his six-year D.C. stint already had lasted longer than his last two predecessors combined.
The sports-loving ambassador always had sidestepped those rumours in characteristic fashion: with a joke about hockey.
He used the same metaphor yesterday to announce the final siren.
“I’ve said informally around Washington . . . I’m in double overtime and am not going to go into triple-overtime,’’ Doer said in an interview next to his office, which overlooks the U.S. Capitol.
“I’ve made that very clear—before the election, during the election, after the election,” Doer added.
“I’m participating now in the orderly transition that takes place obviously between the outgoing and the incoming government.’’
As for the specific departure date?
“The day is not confirmed,” Doer noted. “There was a desire, administratively, to have a transition [period].’’
The former NDP premier of Manitoba was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the hope his left-of-centre roots and social network might help relations with the then-rookie Obama administration.
Much of the media chatter in the last six years has focused on one irritant: the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, which both Harper and Doer advocated without success so far.
But the era also witnessed a series of major Canadian priorities coming to fruition.
They include a sweeping arrangement that would change the way Canadians and Americans cross the border—creating customs points away from the border with the goal of faster crossings.
To take effect, the deal must be approved in both Parliament and Congress.
Doer did all but confirm where he’s headed next.
“I’ve never sold my home in Winnipeg,’’ he noted. “Winnipeg’s always been my home.
“I didn’t sell my house, I didn’t sell my cabin.”
Doer declined to say what his future plans are but noted they likely will involve some Canada-U.S. issues.