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04/03/2013

Obama taps Goldman Sachs exec as envoy to Ottawa, CBC reports

Bruce Heyman, a longtime Obama fundraiser and Chicago-based partner at the investment firm Goldman Sachs, is to become the next U.S. ambassador to Canada, CBC News reports.

Heyman is the president's top choice but still must pass a rigorous vetting process before taking over for David Jacobson, who has served as the top U.S. envoy in Ottawa since 2009, CBC News said, citing unnamed sources.

Heyman and his wife Vicki are ranked as high-level fundraisers for Team Obama, raising more than $1 million in the recent 2012 election cycle. Both served on the Obama campaign's national finance committee.

Heyman, who runs a private wealth fund at Goldman Sachs and his areas of responsbility include parts of Canada, the CBC said.

Neither Heyman's office nor a Goldman Sachs spokesperson would comment on the CBC report when contacted by the Toronto Star Wednesday night.

Some close watchers of Canada-U.S. relations reacted with cautious optimism. One Washinton insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Heyman's appointment, speaks to a White House that values loyal economic stewardship in Ottawa over political favours. "Caroline Kennedy's name was among those suggested. Now she's expected to go to Japan. And I think frankly someone more in tune with Canada-U.S. trade fits better," the source said.

Paul Frazer, a Washington consultant and former Canadian ambassador, said Heyman appears at first glance to "fit solidly into the pattern of the Obama administration drawing regularly from its deep pool of supporters in Chicago.

"The president has done very well by folks from Chicago. It's a team he trusts and uses to often, and not just in these kinds of positions," said Frazer.

"And for Canada, a sophisticated individual heading to Ottawa from Chicago can be big plus. Chicago is other anchor on the Great Lakes -- so much Canadian energy flows through or near the city, with so many Canadian companies active there, the level of awareness of trade relations is certain to be very good.

"His job in Ottawa will be to represent his own country's interests. But starting out with a strong awareness of Canada is always promising."

Mitch Potter is the Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Potter led the Star’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he won a 2006 National Newspaper Award for his reportage. His dispatches include datelines from 33 countries since 2000. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites 


 

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