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Bangladesh and Burundi missions on the move

By Laura Beaulne-Stuebing      

And Trade Minister Ed Fast gets a new chief of staff.

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The Bangladeshi High Commission in Ottawa moved from 340 Albert St. to 350 Sparks St. on Nov. 1. Counsellor Ishrat Ahmed told Embassy that the mission’s lease in its old building had come to an end, and that it simply needed more space. The number of clients and the services mission staffers are providing have grown, she said. The high commission sought out a new office space that would better fit its machine-readable passport equipment and one with a larger reception area.

The high commission is also looking to fill positions left vacant after the departure of counsellors Nahida Rahman Shumona and Rahat Bin Zaman in August.

Ms. Shumona left to serve in Bangladesh’s mission in Brazil after more than three years in Ottawa. In an interview with Embassy back in June, Ms. Shumona said that she tries to create strong bonds in host countries, and makes those countries feel like home, by getting involved with local organizations. While posted in Australia, she was involved with World Vision Australia and while in Ottawa she dedicated much of her time to Child Haven International.

Mr. Zaman has returned to Dhaka and is now working in the country’s foreign ministry as its director for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

Ms. Ahmed is now filling their shoes until new counsellors are brought on, which she said will likely be in about three months.

A move for Burundi, but barely so

The embassy of Burundi has also recently moved, in mid-November, but only down the street from where it was previously located. Formerly a neighbour to Bangladesh at 340 Albert St., the embassy is now at 350 Albert St., in suite 410.

The embassy has a small staff. Besides the ambassador, that includes a counsellor, driver and secretary. 

Trade minister gets a new chief

As reported in The Hill Times this week, Trade Minister Ed Fast’s former chief of staff Bill Hawkins is the new principal secretary in the prime minister’s office, filling a role left vacant by Ray Novak when he became Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff in May 2013.

Mr. Hawkins is returning to an office in which he once worked; he was the PMO’s director of stakeholder relations and strategic planning before the last federal election in 2011.

Mr. Hawkins is replaced by Andrea Van Vugt, who is returning from maternity leave to become Mr. Fast’s new chief of staff. Ms. Van Vugt is a former policy adviser for foreign affairs, trade and international development in the PMO. Her husband, Dustin Van Vugt is the former chief of staff to minister of state for sport Bal Gosal and was tapped as the Conservative Party's newest executive director in July. 

Embassy listed both Mr. Hawkins and Ms. Van Vugt as top influencers in Canadian foreign policy in 2013. Mr. Hawkins was noted for his strategic role in the government’s trade agenda, including helping to make the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement a reality. Ms. Van Vugt played a key role in connecting the foreign affairs department with the PMO, and was responsible for much of the foreign affairs file, with a direct channel to the prime minister.



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