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Obama picks Canada ambassador

AFP-JIJI

President Barack Obama named a Goldman Sachs executive and large campaign contributor as U.S. ambassador to Canada on Thursday amid potential rifts between the two allies over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Bruce Heyman, managing director for private wealth management at the investment bank, lives in Obama’s political base of Chicago and is a so-called bundler who raised funds for the president’s campaigns.

Early reports of Heyman’s potential nomination, and the present absence of an American ambassador in Ottawa, triggered criticism in the Canadian press, which asked whether Obama was putting sufficient priority on its neighbor and ally. The previous ambassador, corporate lawyer David Jacobson, left Canada in July.

Like his predecessors, Obama has regularly named prominent fundraisers to diplomatic posts, seen as one of the top rewards doled out to campaign supporters.