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PM rewards Loyola Hearn with plum Dublin post

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn makes a funding announcement in Vancouver on July 16, 2007.

Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press

Loyola Hearn, for good and faithful service, has been made Ambassador to Ireland.

The affable Newfoundlander was a fixture in the Progressive Conservative Party and then in Stephen Harper's Conservative government, before retiring from political life. His name leapt out of Friday's listing of the latest diplomatic appointments by the Harper government.

Canada has a mixed system, in which career public servants fill some embassies and high commissions, while former politicians take other spots. Ireland is very much of the latter category.

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Jean Chrétien sent his political pal Ron Irwin there. The current ambassador, Pat Binns, landed the post after losing his job as premier of Prince Edward Island.

Mr. Hearn served as Fisheries minister in the Harper government. But he may best be known in history as a key member of a team of emissaries who helped negotiate the union of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties, under leaders Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay, into today's governing Conservative Party.

Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay have issues right now - especially over that airbase in the Arab Emirates. But the Prime Minister clearly still thinks fondly of the man who helped make that reunion happen.

Mr. Hearn arrives in Ireland in interesting times. The island is one of the most economically troubled places in the developed world, as the European Union and the International Monetary Fund prepare a financial rescue package and accompanying draconian fiscal measures.

Canada's influence in Ireland is based largely on culture. The Irish made up a major component of the English-speaking settler population.

Mr. Hearn will arrive in Dublin to an embassy in reduced circumstances. The Canadian government sold Strathmore, the magnificent mansion and grounds that were the residence of Canadian ambassador in 2008, swapping it for a place closer to downtown.

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About the Author
Writer-at-large

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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