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Canada's former Libyan ambassador gets Morocco posting

One of Canada’s most experienced North African diplomats will be returning to the volatile region as the country’s envoy to Morocco.

Sandra McCardell’s appointment to the ambassador’s post in Morocco was one of several announced Friday by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

McCardell was Canada’s most recent ambassador to Libya, and a witness to the start of the uprising that led to the eventual overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

McCardell was posted to Libya in the summer of 2009 and oversaw the temporary closing of the embassy in February 2011 as the NATO bombing campaign to support Libyan rebels got underway.

She left the post later that year after a news report surfaced that her husband had a job with Montreal engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, which did business in Libya prior to Gadhafi’s fall.

A review ordered by Baird in January cleared McCardell, concluding that neither her husband nor his company benefited from their relationship.

The review said McCardell regularly informed embassy staff and her bosses about the situation, but chastised her for waiting until October 2010 before formally seeking “more detailed guidance” from the department’s values and ethics division.

The review involved interviews with more than a dozen government officials, as well as McCardell and her husband.

Embassy staff said they never felt pressured by McCardell to favour SNC-Lavalin.

In the intervening months, McCardell had been on language training to learn Arabic as part of a long-term career plan.

Government officials have said she would eventually be assigned to another diplomatic post where those language skills could be put to use.

Canada has yet to assign a new ambassador to Tripoli, where a charge d’affaires runs the Canadian embassy in the Libyan capital.