Row over Canadian ambassador to Ireland

A HUGE political row has erupted in Canada over plans by the Canadian government to appoint a new ambassador to Ireland.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper has been criticised for nominating a close political ally rather than the usual career diplomat to its embassy in Dublin.

Mr Harper, leader of the Conservative government, announced earlier this week that Pat Binns, the recently defeated Tory premier of Canada’s smallest province Prince Edward Island, is to be take up the position of ambassador to Ireland.

Mr Binns’s appointment will mean the recall of the current Canadian ambassador Christopher Westdal from Dublin less than a year after he took up the position. The Professional Association of Foreign Service

Officers, representing members of the diplomatic service, has expressed concern that the appointment has marked a return to political patronage when it comes to the choice of ambassadors. Mr Binns, 58, a married father of four, spoke about his family ties to Ireland and joked that he was looking forward to having a pint of Guinness. Mr Binns is expected to arrive in Dublin later this month to present his diplomatic credentials to President Mary McAleese.

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