Canadian Conservative Leader to Join Washington Think Tank

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose is leaving politics to join the Washington-based Wilson Center as her party prepares to choose her successor.

Ambrose, 48, confirmed her departure in a speech Tuesday morning in Ottawa, saying she’ll resign her seat in parliament after the House of Commons adjourns for the summer. She pledged to continue to help the Conservatives recruit more women and didn’t say where she’d go in her “post-partisan life.”

In Washington, Ambrose will serve as a visiting fellow at the non-partisan think tank’s Canada Institute, focusing on bilateral trade with the U.S., according to a Wilson Center statement obtained by Bloomberg. She will lead the institute’s “efforts to convene U.S. and Canadian officials to explore the benefits of an integrated and competitive North American economy that is focused on job creation and prosperity,” the statement said.

The appointment comes as President Donald Trump’s administration prepares to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Mexico.

“I’m proud to join the Canada Institute in order to promote policies that increase North American competitiveness and to continue my work advocating for greater trade liberalization between the United States and Canada,” Ambrose is quoted as saying in the statement.

She has served as interim leader since late 2015 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority. The Conservatives governed from 2006 to 2015 under Stephen Harper, who stepped down after his defeat. A wide field of candidates is running to serve as permanent leader of the party, which remains Canada’s official opposition in the House of Commons. The winner will be revealed May 27.

Ambrose took aim at Trudeau in her final public speech as opposition leader, criticizing his deficit spending and highlighting her own party’s recent success in fundraising. “I leave this job very optimistic about our future,” she said, adding she would “seek a new chapter in my life.”

First elected in 2004, Ambrose served in several cabinet portfolios, including as minister of environment, labor and health. The Alberta politician “will be a source of insightful ideas and a champion of North American competitiveness during the renegotiation of Nafta this fall,” Canada Institute Director Laura Dawson said in the statement.