The interim leader of Canada’s opposition Conservative Party is headed to Washington to join the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute.
Rona Ambrose, an Edmonton, Alberta Member of Parliament (MP), will lend her considerable expertise as former high-profile cabinet minister with the former government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Her first file is anticipated to be the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as she joins the bilateral trade division of the institute.
She officially announced her retirement on Tuesday and was feted in the Canadian House yesterday by her colleagues and political opponents — most of whom said she will be remembered most for her work on behalf of women and girls who have been subject to sexual abuse.
Ambrose has made the House her home for 13 years and was often a courageous pro-life champion and a critic of environmental extremists. When the Harper government fell to Liberal Justin Trudeau in 2015, Ambrose managed to piece the defeated party together again.
Ambrose was vaguely teary-eyed Tuesday when she accepted the accolades of her Parliamentary colleagues.
“I want to say what an honour it has been to serve this great place,” Ms. Ambrose said in the Commons, after listening to the an non-partisan tribute. “I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Ambrose led the federal Conservative Party for 18 months and will be stepping aside in just over a week when the party selects a new leader on May 27 — Quebec MP Maxime Bernier is widely favored to win that race.
Critics said Ambrose was too soft on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his growing list of scandals; but while at the helm, party fundraising has been double that of the Liberals.
Indeed, many wanted Ambrose to be more than the interim party leader and run for the permanent position. There was even talk of amending the party’s constitution so that an interim leader could also run but Ambrose rebuffed the offers.
Trudeau, who will soon face a new Tory leader in the House, was effusive in his praise of Ambrose. He hugged the Conservative leader and said she had served her country with “elegance and determination. Throughout it all, she has remained true to her values,” he said.