Billionaire Republican Donor Appointed Ambassador To Canada

(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ermst)

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Kelly Knight Craft sailed through her Senate confirmation hearings Thursday to become the next ambassador to Canada.

Craft missed the gala July 4 party that the U.S. embassy throws every year at the ambassador’s official residence. When The Daily Caller asked Craft’s stand-in when she expected Craft to arrive, Elizabeth Aubin — the embassy’s chargé d’affaires — responded, “That’s entirely up to the Senate.”

Last night, the Senate sent Craft north.

Craft and her husband, coal magnate Joe Craft, have been huge donors to many prominent Republicans — including President Donald Trump. The Kentucky-born Craft is also close with the senior senator from her home state: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell was effusive in his praise of Craft in a statement that he issued Thursday:  “As a proven advocate for our national interests, Kelly will use her position to continue the long history of friendship between the United States and Canada. I appreciate her willingness to serve our country once again, and I know that she will make Kentucky proud.”

Her previous diplomatic experience includes a stint as the alternate ambassador to the United Nations; she was appointed to that post in 2007 by then-president George W. Bush.

McConnell had publicly endorsed Kraft a few weeks ago and lauded her appointment last night. Senate inquisitors asked her a few questions about NATO, alleged Russian meddling in the last presidential election, and finally, basketball.

The new ambassador is clearly a popular choice with Canadian diplomats. Canada’s ambassador to Washington, David McNaughton, sent out a welcoming tweet: “Great news, congratulations.” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland also sent our her greetings not on Twitter: “We look forward to working with you to strengthen CanUS ties!”

Craft becomes ambassador on the eve of the re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which begins on Aug. 16.

During her Senate confirmation, Craft referenced her first big challenge and said softwood lumber, dairy products and poultry were three commodities that she considered most important in bilateral trade.

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