US ambassador to Canada resigns, first under Trump overhaul

This file photo taken on March 10, 2016 shows US Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman arriving at a State Dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House in Washington,DC.
This file photo taken on March 10, 2016 shows US Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman arriving at a State Dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House in Washington,DC. PHOTO: AFP

MONTREAL (AFP) - The US ambassador to Canada announced his resignation on Friday (Jan 6), becoming the first to yield to a demand by Mr Donald Trump that politically appointed ambassadors quit by Inauguration Day.

"As requested I have resigned as US Ambassador to Canada effective 1/20," Mr Bruce Heyman wrote on Twitter. Heyman is close to outgoing President Barack Obama.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that the Trump transition team has issued a blanket order requiring politically appointed ambassadors - as opposed to career diplomats holding such posts - to leave their overseas positions by Inauguration Day on Jan 20.

The paper quoted ambassadors familiar with the plan.

Political appointees are often close to the president who gave them the job. In the past, they were often allowed to stay in their posts for weeks or months after the president's term ends, the Times said. Mr Trump's move breaks with this precedent.

Mr Heyman, on the job in Ottawa since April 2014, used to work at Goldman Sachs and was a major contributor to Mr Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

Mr Trump's decision means the United States could be left without ambassadors in important countries for months. The posts require Senate confirmation.