Diplomatic Appointments

(No. 385 - December 19, 2011 - 6:15 p.m. ET) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today announced the following diplomatic appointments:

Jean-Pierre Blackburn becomes Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Canada to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in Paris.

Gitane De Silva becomes Consul General of Canada in Chicago.

John T. Holmes becomes Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Georgia and Turkmenistan.

John Morrison becomes Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia.

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Biographical notes on the appointees follow.

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Biographical notes

Jean-Pierre Blackburn (BA Honours (Management), 1973; BA [Business Administration], 1974; MA [Regional Studies], 2002; Université du Québec à Chicoutimi) was member of Parliament for the riding of Jonquière from 1984 to 1993 and for Jonquière-Alma from 2006 to 2011. In 1993, he was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defence. In 2006, he joined the cabinet as minister of labour and minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. He became minister of national revenue and minister of state (agriculture) in 2008 and in 2010 minister of veterans affairs. He has also been a manager, administrator and professor and was president of Blackburn Communications Inc. Mr. Blackburn succeeds André Bachand.

Gitane De Silva (BA Honours [International Relations], University of British Columbia, 1997) joined the public service as a project officer with the Canadian International Development Agency in 2001. Later that same year, she joined Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada as a foreign service officer, and her first assignment was as a senior energy policy analyst in the U.S. Relations Division. From 2002 to 2004, Ms. De Silva served in Washington, D.C., as second secretary, then as counsellor. In 2004, she worked in the Canada-U.S. Secretariat in the Privy Council Office. In 2005, Ms. De Silva returned to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada as director of the Canada-U.S. Advocacy and Mission Liaison Division. In 2008, she became deputy head of the Office of Transformation. After working as director of Middle East relations in 2010, Ms. De Silva was seconded to Status of Women Canada as executive director of international and intergovernmental relations and was subsequently promoted to deputy head of the agency. Ms. De Silva returned to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in 2011 as director general, APEC Women and the Economy Summit. Ms. De Silva succeeds Georges Rioux.

John T. Holmes (BA, McGill University, 1978; LLB, McGill University, 1982) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1982 and has since served abroad in Bridgetown, in Accra and in New York at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations. In Ottawa, he has held a number of positions, including director general of the Middle East Bureau and director of the United Nations, Human Rights and Economic Law Division He has also served as Canada’s ambassador to Jordan, as non-resident ambassador to Iraq and as ambassador to Indonesia. He is married to Carol Bujeau, and they have a son and a daughter. Mr. Holmes succeeds Mark Bailey.

John Morrison (BA, McGill University, 1971; MA Cambridge University, 1978) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1985. He has served abroad as third secretary at the High Commission of Canada to Malaysia; second secretary (political affairs) at the Embassy of Canada to China; program manager (political, economic and public affairs) at the Canadian Trade Office, Taipei; and counsellor (economic) at the Embassy of Canada to Japan. At Headquarters, he has occupied a number of positions, including director for the Eastern Europe and Balkans Division and director for the China and Mongolia Division. From 1999 to 2000, Mr. Morrison was a foreign policy adviser in the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Privy Council Office. From 2005 to 2008, he was minister counsellor and deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada to Russia.Since 2008, Mr. Morrison has served as ambassador of Canada to Serbia, with concurrent accreditation to Macedonia and Montenegro. He is married to Aleksandra Morrison and has a daughter, Katherine. Mr. Morrison succeeds Scott Heatherington.