Freeland expected to keep playing big role on U.S. file despite move to finance


OTTAWA — Chrystia Freeland is expected to continue playing a key role in the management of Canada’s relationship with the United States following her appointment this week as federal finance minister.

The Liberal government has been unclear whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will officially direct Freeland to continue serving as Canada’s point person with the U.S., a role she first assumed as foreign affairs minister in February 2017.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne suggested other cabinet ministers, including himself, would shoulder more of the burden as he told The Canadian Press this week everyone has a role to play in the Canada-U.S. relationship.

Scotty Greenwood, CEO of the Canadian-American Business Council, says such a move makes sense as Freeland’s leadership on U.S. issues was largely focused on completing negotiations for a new North American free trade deal.

But she and former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson believe Freeland will nonetheless continue to play a big role in her new position, which includes overseeing the restart of Canada’s pandemic-ravaged economy.

They say that is because any economic restart will require close co-ordination with the U.S., given the integrated nature of the two North American economies.