U.S. President Donald Trump has selected a wealthy doctor and philanthropist from North Carolina as the next envoy to Canada.
The White House announced Tuesday that Aldona Wos, vice-chair of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, has been nominated to be ambassador to Canada, a position that has been vacant since August.
Ms. Wos replaces Kelly Craft, a wealthy Kentucky Republican businesswoman and spouse of coal magnate Joe Craft, who departed Ottawa to become the U.S. envoy to the United Nations.
Ms. Wos is a retired physician who was born in Poland and whose father survived the Flossenbuerg concentration camp. She was named by then-president George W. Bush to serve on the board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and later as envoy to Estonia from 2004 to 2006.
She and her husband, technology executive Louis DeJoy, both raise money for the Republicans and have a foundation for advanced education.
The office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed the announcement of Ms. Wos, whose appointment must be ratified by the U.S. Senate, saying in a statement: “We look forward to continuing the close collaboration with our largest and most important partner.”
Christopher Sands, Canadian director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said Ms. Wos will have several contentious issues to deal with in Ottawa.
The Trump administration and bipartisan senators are pushing hard for U.S. allies to bar China telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from selling its fifth-generation technology to domestic telecoms, citing national-security concerns.
“That is one of the big issues that is out there,” Mr. Sands said. “Her role is to make the Trump administration’s case on Huawei.”
Another complicating factor is the arrest of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou. China has demanded the release of Ms. Meng and, in apparent retaliation, arrested two Canadians – Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig – and hit Canada with a punishing blockade of canola and soybeans.
Prime Minster Justin Trudeau has said Washington should not sign any “final” trade agreement with Beijing without first helping to persuade China to release the two Canadians.
Mr. Sands said Ms. Wos will also need to ensure that she has access to top powers in the Trump administration and Prime Minister’s Office.
“Everybody in Ottawa already knows how to connect to the White House. So an ambassador can often be bypassed because it is easier to work with someone you already know. That is her challenge," Mr. Sands said. “She also going to be in Canada during the tumult of the U.S. election. That’s always tricky, Canadians have their views, even the Canadian government will have their views on who they like.”
Mr. Sands said Ms. Wos must also work with the Canadians to ensure a positive outcome at the Group of Seven summit that will be held in June at Camp David, the presidential retreat outside Washington.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.