President Joe Biden nominated David Cohen, a technology executive who once served as the mayor of Philadelphia’s chief of staff, to be his ambassador to Canada.
Cohen, a lawyer, lobbyist and fundraiser who currently serves as senior adviser to the head of US communications giant Comcast, had long been considered the likely candidate.
In addition to various roles in a variety of Comcast departments, a White House biography says that Cohen also served as the company’s chief diversity officer.
But he’s no stranger to political circles: In addition to serving as the company’s top lobbyist, Cohen spent five years as chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell in the 1990s.
It also hosted the first fundraising event of Biden’s successful 2020 presidential election campaign.
“Your Senate confirmation cannot come soon enough for the Canada-United States relationship,” said Scotty Greenwood, president and CEO of the Canadian American Business Council.
In a statement, Greenwood noted the mismatched travel restrictions between the two countries, as well as the “roadmap” for closer bilateral ties that Biden announced in February with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, one that he said will require careful navigation. .
“The need to return to a well-coordinated, reciprocal border management process is more acute than ever, and the announcement of the roadmap by the President and Prime Minister needs our top navigators in the front seat to convert their ambitious goals actually. “
News of Cohen’s nomination came on the same day that the Department of Homeland Security extended COVID-19 travel restrictions at the US-Canada land border.
Stakeholders and a growing chorus of US lawmakers are upset with the decision, as Canada announced earlier this week that it would begin allowing fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents to return to the country beginning August 9.
In a statement of his own, Cohen said that if confirmed, he would seek to grow “the important relationship” as both countries seek to recover from the pandemic.
Biden nominates technology executive and political advisor #DavidCohen as US ambassador to Canada. #USPoli
In other long-awaited nominations, Biden also appointed Victoria Reggie Kennedy, a prominent DC lawyer and widow of US Senator Ted Kennedy, as his envoy to Austria, and Jamie Harpootlian to the post in Slovenia.
However, not everyone was captivated by the names.
Brett Bruen, a consultant and former US diplomat who served as a White House adviser to Barack Obama, complained on Twitter that the posts are too important to be treated as endorsement quotes.
“It is disappointing to see someone with absolutely no diplomatic experience sent to manage them in Ottawa,” Bruen tweeted. “Discouraging Biden continues to treat these serious national security positions as favors from a political party.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on July 21, 2021.
– With files from The Associated Press