Alberta changing its U.S. representative, wants to move in different direction

Alberta’s new NDP government is changing its senior representative to the United States, saying it wants to move in a new direction.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s new NDP government is changing its senior representative to the United States, saying it wants to move in a new direction.

Former Conservative MP Rob Merrifield was to do the job until Sept. 16, 2018, but is to leave at the end of the month.

The government says a replacement for Merrifield, who was appointed last year by former premier Jim Prentice, would be named soon.

A spokeswoman for Premier Rachel Notley’s office says Merrifield has a contract that does not include severance.

Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier is to take over some of Merrifield’s work in the interim, including efforts to persuade Washington to repeal its meat labelling law known as COOL that has hurt Canada’s beef and pork industries.

In a written statement Notley thanks Merrifield for his public service.

“I would like to sincerely thank Rob Merrifield for all of his efforts advancing Alberta’s economic and policy interests with our largest trading partner,” Notley said Friday.

“This change will allow the government time to consider a new direction for the office, including the option of appointing a representative with a background as a professional diplomat.”

Notley noted that Alberta’s exports to the U.S. totalled $109.6 billion last year.

She said strong relations with the U.S. will play an important role in growing and diversifying Alberta’s economy.

When Merrifield was appointed to the Washington job he agreed to donate to charity part of his MP pension while he worked for the province, to allay any concerns about double dipping.

Merrifield’s Alberta salary is $243,000 per year.

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