US President Joe Biden has appointed David Cohen, a tech executive who once served as chief of staff to the mayor of Philadelphia, to be his ambassador to Canada.
Cohen, a lawyer, lobbyist and fundraiser who currently serves as senior advisor to the head of US communications giant Comcast, has long been the likely candidate.
In addition to a number of roles in various departments at Comcast, a White House biography indicates that Cohen also served as the company’s director of diversity.
But he’s no stranger to political circles: In addition to being the company’s main lobbyist, Cohen spent five years as chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell in the 1990s.
Cohen also hosted the first fundraising event of Biden’s successful presidential campaign in 2020.
“Its confirmation in the Senate cannot come soon enough for Canada-US relations,” said Scotty Greenwood, President and CEO of the Canadian American Business Council.
In a statement, Greenwood highlighted the inconsistent travel restrictions between the two countries, as well as the “road map” for closer bilateral ties that Biden announced in February with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – one that she says, will require careful navigation.
“The need to return to a well-coordinated and reciprocal border management process is more acute than ever, and the announcement of the roadmap by the President and the Prime Minister needs our best navigators in the front seat to transform its ambitious goals in reality. “
No diplomatic experience
A longtime US diplomat and former Obama White House official criticized the announcement.
Brett Bruen told TBEN News it was disappointing that another party donor with no diplomatic experience represents the United States in his important post in Canada.
The relationship between the United States and Canada is one of our most important.
Disappointing to see someone with no diplomatic experience sent to deal with them in Ottawa.
Discouraging Biden continues to treat these serious national security posts as though they are party favors. https://t.co/MCzxh4zJJz
“Cohen is not the person best equipped to restore Canada’s confidence in the United States after four difficult years of Trump,” said Bruen, now president of the consulting firm Global Situation Room.
“We need deep diplomatic experience, not deep pockets to get through these turbulent times.”
Historically, the post has frequently gone to diplomats. Over the past decades he has gone to several prominent state-level politicians or governors like Paul Cellucci, James Blanchard, and David Wilkins.
The most recent nominations have gone to prominent campaign donors.
In other long-awaited appointments, Biden also named Victoria Reggie Kennedy, a prominent DC lawyer and widow of US Senator Ted Kennedy, to be his envoy to Austria, and Jamie Harpootlian to fill the post in Slovenia.