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Christopher S. Reed/© Copyright 2007 by Christopher S. Reed

Former federal Conservative politician Stockwell Day is joining McMillan LLP's Vancouver office as a senior strategic adviser, and the firm clearly hopes the former trade minister will help it open doors across Asia.

"I am very excited about helping to move the opportunities along that are going to be beneficial to our economy," Mr. Day said in an interview.

The former leader of the Canadian Alliance, who burst onto the federal political scene in a wetsuit straddling a personal watercraft in a famous 2000 photo-op, announced that he was quitting politics earlier this year, before the federal election.

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Mr. Day, 60, said that he told Prime Minister Stephen Harper in December that he and his wife had decided that it was time to move on after a quarter century in politics: "We were very grateful for our years in public life, but just felt like it was time."

When McMillan merged with Lang Michener LLP last year, it inherited that firm's Hong Kong office, where McMillan hopes to build its practice across Asia. Business from China in particular has been a focus for Bay Street law firms.

McMillan's chief executive officer, Andrew Kent, said Mr. Day's experience and contacts in the region from serving as minister of international trade and as the minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific Gateway will be "terrific" assets for the firm.

While Mr. Harper was criticized in the early years of his government for giving China a cold shoulder, Mr. Kent said Mr. Day has been credited with changing the Conservatives' view toward the country: "He's a man who's clearly got the respect of very senior people internationally."

The move, which will be officially announced on Wednesday, is the second post-politics job for Mr. Day. Just late last month just launched his own "government relations" business called Stockwell Day Connex, which he insists will not lobby politicians but will provide organizations with advice.

He said his company and his role at McMillan were "absolutely separate," and he pledged to follow the new rules created in 2006 which ban the use of confidential information by ex-cabinet ministers.

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