Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will name two prominent female civil servants to serve as Canada's envoys to Great Britain and Israel rather than fill the posts with political partisans, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Janice Charette, the former clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to cabinet, will be appointed Canada's high commissioner to Britain. She replaces former British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell, who has been in London since 2011.
Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, will be moving to Israel to take over from controversial Ambassador Vivian Bercovici, a Toronto lawyer named to the post by the Conservatives in January, 2014.
"These are obviously two very talented and accomplished women, who are very much representative of the kind of great women the government wants to be part of public life," according to one official with knowledge of the latest round of diplomatic appointments to be announced shortly.
The Prime Minister has told Global Affairs that its list of career candidates has too many white males and promised better representation in terms of gender and ethnicity.
But sources tell The Globe and Mail the Liberals also wanted to heal ill feelings within the public service: to reward Ms. Charette after she was abruptly dropped as PCO clerk and to get rid of the unpopular Ms. Bercovici.
The plum high commission posting is being interpreted inside the bureaucracy as a consolation prize for the shabby way Ms. Charette was treated by Mr. Trudeau's government. She was suddenly ditched as clerk in January and replaced by her deputy, Michael Wernick.
The Liberal government has never explained why she was pushed out as PCO clerk – the highest ranking bureaucrat in the federal government. Her departure was announced in a terse press release when Mr. Trudeau was at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and came two days before she was to chair a conference of deputy ministers.
However, sources say Ms. Charette had run afoul of the Prime Minister's Office when she expressed concerns about the appointment of Mr. Trudeau's campaign policy adviser, Matthew Mendelsohn, as a deputy clerk of the PCO. Although Mr. Mendelsohn once served as a deputy minister in Ontario and founded the Mowat Centre think tank, sources say Ms. Charette was worried that his role in the election would taint the non-political public service.
In the case of Ms. Bercovici, there was little doubt the Liberals would move quickly to remove her as Canada's envoy to Israel. She was widely viewed within Global Affairs as someone who is unschooled in diplomacy and too ideologically connected to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
Within six months of her appointment, Ms. Bercovici came under fire for a series of opinionated tweets about the 2014 Gaza conflict. She had been harshly critical of U.S. President Barack Obama's Iran policy, calling the six-power nuclear pact with Iran "a Munich," a form of appeasement.
Ms. Lyons is a seasoned diplomat who has held key positions, including deputy head of mission at the Canadian embassy in Washington.
The London high commission job has long been a reward for senior politicians including Donald Macdonald, Paul Martin Sr. and Roy McMurtry. Sources say former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty's name had been mentioned but quickly discarded because of the provincial gas plant scandal.
Mr. Trudeau did name two close confidants to two of the most prominent diplomatic missions. He sent his Ontario campaign co-chairman, David McNaughton, to become Canada's Washington envoy and Montreal lawyer Marc-André Blanchard, who served on Mr. Trudeau's transition team, became ambassador to the United Nations.