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National News: Curling among Canada's newest ambassadors Black Habits Articles Ontario legislature Speaker Alvin Curling resigned his post and his seat Friday August 19 after he was named as one of Canada's 10 newest ambassadors in a diplomatic shakeup announced by the federal government.

Curling, 65, a Liberal who was first elected to the legislature in 1985, becomes Canada's ambassador to the Dominican Republic. "I feel quite honoured by this," Curling said after the announcement. "A bit surprised, but quite honoured, because I think to serve Canada is the best position that anyone could have." The Jamaican-born Curling held two cabinet posts in former Liberal premier David Peterson's government, then spent 13 years as a member of the opposition before the Liberals were elected again in 2003. "I have no doubt that Alvin will make an excellent representative for Canada," Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a statement. "We will miss him in the legislature, and as a member of our government." Curling's time as Speaker wasn't without controversy; he often raised the ire of Conservatives and New Democrats alike with rulings they felt favoured the governing Liberals, and also came under fire for attending a Liberal fundraiser in 2004 while Speaker, something he later apologized for in the legislature. But on Friday, Ontario's opposition leaders were nothing but polite. "I think he tried his best given what I think is the often questionable behaviour of the members of the legislature," said Conservative Leader John Tory. NDP Leader Howard Hampton called Curling "a political trail-blazer," noting he was Ontario's first black cabinet minister and also the province's first black speaker. Curling admitted he's never visited the Dominican Republic, but said he has visited Haiti, Cuba and other nearby countries, and didn't leave Jamaica for Canada until he was in his 20s. "People have always seen me as someone who has interacted in the Caribbean and, as a matter of fact, internationally," he said. Other diplomatic changes announced Friday by Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew included switching Canada's ambassadors in China and Japan. Robert Wright, who has been ambassador in Tokyo since 2001, will move to Beijing, replacing Joseph Caron, who moves to Japan. Caron has been ambassador to China for four years. In the other moves: -Louis-Robert Daigle, high commissioner to Mozambique, becomes ambassador to Burkina Faso. -Abina Dann, a former ministerial and departmental spokesperson, becomes ambassador to Ukraine. -Roxanne Dube, a one-time aide to Lloyd Axworthy when he was minister of Foreign Affairs, becomes ambassador to Zimbabwe, with accreditation to Angola as well. -Michael Leir, a career diplomat now ambassador to Turkey, becomes high commissioner to Australia. -Gabriel-M. Lessard, a former ambassador to Ethiopia now working with the privy council office, becomes ambassador to Vietnam. -Robert McDougall, director of the Foreign Affairs disarmament division, becomes ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro. -David Summers, a trade specialist, becomes high commissioner to Malaysia. -Renata Wielgosz, who has experience working with the Organization of American States and the Summit of the Americas, becomes ambassador to Venezuela. -Timothy Coughlin, a senior bureaucrat with the Canada Revenue Agency, becomes consul general in Guangzhou, China.

Posted on Monday, September 19 @ 04:11:27 UTC by bspringer

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