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Next ambassador to Canada a woman?

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WASHINGTON -- David Jacobson, America's outgoing ambassador to Canada, is still booking appointments into April, but that hasn't diminished the whirlwind of speculation in the U.S. capital over who's going to replace him.

A guessing game is in full force in Canada-U.S. circles about his replacement, with many prognosticators believing U.S. President Barack Obama might send a woman to Ottawa for the first time in history.

Among the names with the most buzz are Christine Gregoire, the former governor of Washington state who's played a key role in the Beyond the Border agreement between the U.S. and Canada; Jennifer Granholm, the Canadian-born former governor of Michigan; and Olympia Snowe, the long-serving Republican senator from Maine who opted against running for office in November, fed up with partisan gridlock.

The moderate Snowe, incidentally, isn't the only retired Republican senator at the centre of ambassadorial rumours. Some are speculating former Texas lawmaker Kay Bailey Hutchison might also be in the running for ambassador to Mexico.

The Canadian ambassadorship is a coveted one in diplomatic circles.

"Canada is considered a plum diplomatic post and history tells us the president uses that post to reward folks who have been major supporters, who have his ear and his confidence," says Christy Cox, a senior adviser to David Wilkins, who served as U.S. ambassador to Canada from 2005 to 2009.

"So whomever does get it will be someone the president both likes and trusts."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 A14

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