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09/04/2013

Obama's next envoy to Ottawa "still on track"

No, snub-obsessed Canadian media, there's no grand insult in the fact that the U.S. embassy in Ottawa remains without a boss -- still -- one whole summer after former ambassador David Jacobson left the building.

So says the Washington Post, which had a good chuckle today rounding up the various Canadian speculation as to why nothing has happened in the five months since the name of the presumed nominee, Chicago's Bruce Heyman, emerged as Obama's next envoy to Ottawa.

WaPo reporter Al Kamen assessed Canadian media as "most upset" by the perceived delays, pointing to a few choice north-of-border reactions, from "Is this any way to treat a best friend?" to "What's wrong with Canada?" 

Absolutely nothing, says Kamen, whose own Washington sources say Heyman, a longtime Obama fundraiser and wealthy Goldman Sachs partner, is still on track for the job.

"Sources said Heyman's financial situation -- we're talking a very wealthy guy -- was indeed complex and it took substantial time to sort things out before he could be nominated," Kamen reports.

"In addition, Heyman apparently just graduated last month from 'charm school,' the State Department's diplomatic training course. That's obviously not something he would be doing if he'd withdrawn from consideration.

The update offers no timeline as to precisely when Heyman will formally get the nod. Nor does it mention the ongoing Keystone XL pipeline controversy -- a politico pinata that others have suggested as the real reason for the delay.

Jacobson, in a final interview before leaving Ottawa, told The Star's Tim Harper that the Keystone XL debate will outlive him. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Jacobson insisted the Obama administration was still weighing options. "No decision has been made. That's not spin, that's the truth," he said.

But Kamen reasons that there's no actual reason behind the long vacancy in Ottawa. "People tend to forget that, unlike in most every other country in the world, these things take a lot of time here in Washington," he wrote.

Mitch Potter is the Toronto Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites

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