U.S. ambassador to Canada says offer to help Trump transition met with silence

Bruce Heyman, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Canada, says his offer to help president-elect Donald Trump’s transition team get up to the speed on the Canadian relationship has been met with silence.

“I have offered up to the new administration to be helpful and was willing to be helpful in any number of ways that they would like,” Heyman told Chief Correspondent for CBC News Peter Mansbridge in an interview that will air on Mansbridge One on One this weekend.

But since that offer, Heyman hasn’t heard from the Trump team directly.

“It tells me they’re preoccupied and they’re doing other things and they’ve made decisions to proceed in another path, which is fine,” he said.

Heyman said Canada and the United States are so “codependent,” the Trump administration will quickly realize how important the relationship is.

“I don’t worry,” he said. “Cream rises to the top. It’s going to be readily apparent to anyone — even the most casual observer — that this relationship is the most important relationship we can have.”

He said recent work on information-sharing and preclearance will prevent a “backup” at the border.

Heyman has served as the U.S. ambassador to Canada since April 2014. He was appointed by President Barack Obama after a career at Goldman Sachs in Chicago and fundraising for the Democratic Party.

He will resign on inauguration day, Jan. 20, following a blanket order from the Trump transition team for all politically appointed ambassadors to resign by then.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada on Donald Trump’s transition1:46

Mansbridge spoke to Heyman on the same day Trump faced questions about his reported connections to Russia and his apparent adversarial relationship with the American intelligence community. 

Heyman said he has “extraordinary confidence” in the intelligence community.

“Based on everything I’ve experienced in my life, the quality and capabilities of the people providing me this information are the highest I’ve ever seen in any role in my life,” Heyman said

He was diplomatic about Trump’s criticism of intelligence agencies.

“He hasn’t experienced what I’ve experienced yet,” he said.

“It’s his perspective and he’s the president of the United States-elect and soon-to-be president of the United States and he has the right to his perspective and he will see things that I don’t see.”

New border rules will prevent ‘backup’

Heyman said his work with the Trudeau government on climate change, national security, and the border is a “guidepost” for what’s possible when the Canadian and American governments work closely together.

He said work on border security that passed in the lame duck U.S. Congress this December will help keep goods and people moving at the Canada-U.S. border — even as the president-elect promises to clamp down on border security.

“I think the work we did actually would prevent that backup,” he said.

Border priorities differ

“From a U.S. perspective, the border is security first, trade and travel second. From a Canadian perspective, it’s trade and travel first, security second. But coming together we were able to understand each other’s perspectives, we were able to get a lot done this year.”

He said improving border measures — including sharing no-fly lists, as well as information on known and suspected terrorists —  were some of his proudest accomplishments as ambassador.

But some provisions, including a proposal to track entry and exit at the border, are still making their way through Parliament.

“I think these last few things need to be buttoned up on the Canadian side and we will ensure that [problems at the border] won’t happen.”

You can see the full interview this weekend on Mansbridge One on One, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CBC Television.

Peter Mansbridge and U.S Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman

CBC News Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge interviews outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman. (CBC)