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Senate considers Obama's ambassador to Canada Add to ...

The Chicago lawyer nominated by President Barack Obama to be America's next ambassador in Ottawa said Wednesday that "it would be the honour of a lifetime to be able to represent my President and my country as the ambassador to Canada."

At Senate confirmation hearings, David Jacobson, 57, recalled how a half-century ago on his first trip out of the United States he was taken to Canada.

"Despite my mother's protestations that he would get us all killed, my father stopped the car in the middle of the bridge at the border. I will never forget my parents reaching from the front seat in Canada back into the United States and my sisters and I reaching forward into Canada. If anyone had said to that seven-year-old in the middle of that back seat on the Ambassador Bridge that some day he would be appearing before this great committee as the nominee of the President to be Ambassador to Canada, I can assure you that he would not have believed it," he said in a statement prepared for his nomination hearings."

Fifty years ago, neither the ambassador to be nor his parents would have needed a passport to get back into the United States. He will after taking up his post in Ottawa next month, part of the new, tougher travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The most recent of those restrictions, requiring both Canadians and returning Americans to carry passports to enter the United States at land crossings such as the Ambassador Bridge were imposed two months ago.

"Most importantly," Mr. Jacobson said, after extolling the trade and long-standing military alliances between the Canada and the United States, "our two countries are joined together by the web of family, friendships, and other ties between our citizens, many of whom travel between the two countries every day."

Mr. Jacobson, whose nomination is expected to be easily approved, acknowledged that stains and disagreements were part of the bilateral relationships. "Even such a deep and complex relationship always needs to be nurtured and encouraged," he said. "There will be economic, regulatory, and environmental issues. However, the strength of our relationship is defined not by the absence of such occasional disagreement, but by the ability to move forward in our relations while resolving to address areas of concern."

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