David MacNaughton, ambassador to U.S., to leave post at summer's end

David MacNaughton on CTV Power PLay

Canada's ambassador to Washington is leaving his post.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a statement Thursday that David MacNaughton will leave the job at the end of the summer. MacNaughton will return to the private sector in Toronto, he said.

"It is with great affection and gratitude, and of course, considerable regret, that I have accepted Ambassador David MacNaughton's decision to leave Washington. D.C., at summer's end,'' Trudeau said in a statement.

"He is a Canadian patriot, one whose honesty, moderation, and wisdom were pivotal to Team Canada in our successful renegotiation of NAFTA in 2017 and 2018.''

Kirsten Hillman will become Canada's acting ambassador to the United States, having served as deputy ambassador since 2017.

MacNaughton became Ottawa's envoy to the U.S. in March 2016, and served in the role during a tumultuous time in Canada's relationship with its next-door neighbour and largest trading partner.

Trudeau said MacNaughton was a key point of contact with Congress and the Trump administration during tense negotiations of the North American free trade deal. 

As Canada's point person in Washington, he also worked for the removal of punishing U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

In a separate statement Thursday, MacNaughton called the moment "bittersweet.''

"I had long planned to complete my work ahead of the fall election, particularly following the lifting of steel and aluminum tariffs, something I was absolutely determined we would get done before I left this job, and Congress's rising for the summer,'' MacNaughton said.