Briefing

David MacNaughton reportedly advising PMO on U.S. ambassador appointment

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In meetings with government officials Thursday, MacNaughton—the former Canadian ambassador to Washington who now serves as president of the Canadian arm of controversial big data company Palantir—reportedly planned to advocate for his former deputy, acting ambassador Kirsten Hillman. In response to questions about how MacNaughton continues to advise the Prime Minister’s Office, and on what files, the PMO directed The Logic to a statement from Alex Lawrence, a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, that expressed confidence in Hillman, and said an appointment would be announced “in due course.” Palantir did not respond to The Logic’s request for comment before deadline. (CBC)

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Talking point: Hillman has led Canada’s diplomatic team in the U.S. since MacNaughton stepped down at the end of August 2019, and spent the two years before that in Washington. Her diplomatic background is in trade, including working on the new USMCA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She also has experience with the World Trade Organization, a key area of international contention right now, as the U.S. and Canada pursue different reform plans. MacNaughton, meanwhile, has long been an influential adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his most senior staff, although he’s banned from talking to the government about Palantir for a year.