The Honourable Lawrence Cannon was appointed Canadian Ambassador to the French Republic and the Principality of Monaco by the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, on May 20th, 2012, and was reappointed to the position by the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau. He presented his letters of credence to the President of the French Republic, François Hollande on October 26th, 2012, and to H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco on October 30th. He completed his term as Canadian ambassador to France in September 2017.
Prior to his ambassadorial appointment, Mr. Cannon was an influential member of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, serving from 2008 to 2011 as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
After taking office in Paris, Ambassador Cannon actively promoted Canada’s economic interests including the adoption by the European Union of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). He deployed major efforts to increase Canada-France cross-investments resulting in the Program for Enhanced Cooperation, that was ratified on the occasion of President François Hollande’s state visit to Canada in November 2014, the first such visit of a French Head of State in over 25 years, followed by official visits to Canada of French Prime Ministers Jean-Marc Ayrault and Manuel Valls.
As a key player in the Canada-France bilateral relationship, Ambassador Cannon supervised the organization of the commemorative ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the capture of Vimy Ridge by Canadian troops toward the end of World War I, the 70th anniversary of the Allied Landings on the beaches of Normandy and Canada’s contribution to the liberation of France and Europe. Opening a new chapter of Canada’s presence in France, Mr. Cannon was also instrumental in the renewal of Canada’s chancery in Paris.
Prior to his appointment in Paris, and in his capacity as head of the Canadian diplomatic corps and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Cannon represented Canada’s interests on the world stage. During his tenure, he led the coordination of Canada’s emergency assistance measures to the people of Haiti following the disastrous earthquake of 2010, the warming of diplomatic relations between Canada and China, the preparation of the 2010 G8 and G20 summit meetings hosted by Canada in the wake of the economic crisis that shook the world and the improvement of diplomatic and trade relations with the United States of America. He also participated in the transition of the Canadian Forces’ combat mission in Afghanistan to a training mission of the Afghan troops and contributed to the implementation of Canada’s new Arctic foreign policy.
From 2006 to 2008, Mr. Cannon served as Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister responsible for Québec in the Government of Canada. As member of the Caucus of the Conservative Party of Canada, he sat in the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for the riding of Pontiac (Québec), and as Chair, Vice-Chair and Member of several committees (Afghanistan, Foreign Affairs and Defence, Priorities and Planning, Foreign Affairs and Security, Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity, Environment and Energy Security and Economic Affairs and Operations).
Before running for office in the 2006 federal election, Lawrence Cannon had already made his mark, both as a Municipal Councillor, and Member of the Québec National Assembly. He was appointed Executive Assistant to Premier Robert Bourassa in 1971, serving in this position until 1976. He first served as Municipal Councillor for the Town of Cap-Rouge, a suburb of Québec City, from 1979 to 1985, when he ran for office as a Liberal candidate in the provincial riding of La Peltrie and was elected to the National Assembly of Québec. He was successively appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of External Trade and Technological Development (1985-1988), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Tourism (1988-1989), and Deputy House Leader and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (1989-1990). He also served as Minister of Communications of Québec from 1990 to 1994.
He resigned as Member of the National Assembly in 1994 and became Vice President of Government Affairs with Unitel, a telecommunications company and long distance telephone provider later known as AT&T Canada and Allstream, following which he formed Groupe Cannon & Associates and worked as a consultant in communications and public affairs.
Returning to public life in 2001, Lawrence Cannon was elected Municipal Councillor for the new City of Gatineau. Serving until 2005, he was Chair of the Board of Directors of the Outaouais Regional Transit Commission (Société de transport de l’Outaouais) and served as President of the Québec Association of Urban Transit (Association du transport urbain du Québec). In 2005, he became Deputy Chief of Staff of the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Conservative Party of Canada. He was then elected Member of Parliament for the riding of Pontiac (Québec) in 2006, a position he held until the federal election of May 2nd, 2011.
In early October 2011, he was appointed Chair and Senior Member of the Gowlings Government Affairs Group in Ottawa. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Oceanic Iron Ore Corporation. Mr. Cannon resigned from both these positions when he was appointed Ambassador of Canada to France.
In recognition of his services to the community, he was honoured as Personality of the Year 2011 by Tourisme Outaouais and awarded the Prix des Grands diplômés de l’Université Laval by the university’s Alumni Association in Québec City in 2012. In 2013, he was named to the Order of Gatineau by the city’s Municipal Council. In 2016, the American Graduate School in Paris bestowed on him an honorary degree in International Relations and he was recently made Commandeur dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur at an official ceremony hosted by the Government of France at the French Embassy in Ottawa on September 29, 2017. He was also awarded the rank of Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Pléiade in March 2018.
More recently, Mr. Cannon received an honorary degree from the Université du Québec en Outaouais in recognition of his numerous achievements and especially for his contribution to the development of the Outaouais region, Québec and Canada and to the quality of life of our fellow citizens. He was also awarded by the Université Laval, his alma mater, the prestigious Prix Hermès de carrière, in recognition for the university’s alumni who honour the university by their professional influence, leadership, social involvement and contribution to their alma mater’s academic reputation of excellence.
Mr. Cannon continues his career as principal of Cannon & Associates having added, among other professional services, a unique corporate diplomacy consultation service aimed at corporations wishing to grow their business on international markets by helping them create and maintain strategic alliances, connections and partnerships with other key players worldwide to achieve their corporate goals while minimizing the risks often associated with such ventures in foreign lands. He is also a member of several boards of directors and regularly contributes as guest analyst on radio and television public affairs programs, among which the popular show Les mordus de politique on the CBC’s French all-news network Réseau de l’information (RDI).
Mr. Cannon holds an M.B.A. from the Université Laval (Québec City) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Loyola College in Montréal. Born December 6, 1947, in Québec City, he is married to Mrs. Christine Donoghue and the father of four children.