President Joe Biden has chosen David Cohen to be the next U.S. ambassador to Canada, according to a White House announcement on July 21. The statement noted that Cohen, a senior executive at Comcast Corporation, was a board member of the National Urban League and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Politico pointed out that Cohen had hosted a fundraiser for Biden in April 2019, shortly after the launch of Biden’s campaign for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.

The Globe and Mail quoted David MacNaughton, a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., as saying Cohen could not expect the diplomatic position to be easy because “there are some really tough issues” waiting to be resolved.

MacNaughton told the paper that many people in the U.S. “underestimate the importance” of relations between their country and Canada.

Cohen will 'have his hands full'

Another former Canadian ambassador, Derek Burney told the Globe and Mail that the relationship between the two North American countries had not improved since the election of Biden and Cohen would "have his hands full." Burney also said the American president had done nothing for Canadians except "make life difficult especially on the trade front." Like MacNaughton, Burney worried that the U.S. would take new protectionist measures under Biden.

Newcomer to diplomacy

CBC Canadian Press quoted former American diplomat Brett Bruen as saying Cohen was "not the person best equipped to restore Canada's confidence" following the "four difficult years" with Donald Trump in the White House.

He noted that Cohen has had no experience as a diplomat.

Canada to open its borders to Americans on August 9

Travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada had to be managed in "a well coordinated, reciprocal" way, said Scotty Greenwood, president of the Canadian American Business Council, in remarks to CBC Canadian Press. Politico noted that on the day of Cohen's nomination the Biden administration had announced that restrictions against non-essential travel would continue at the U.S.-Canadian land border until at least August 21.

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Politico pointed out that this announcement came only two days after the Canadian government had said that it would open its borders to vaccinated Americans on August 9.

Preparing for 2026

Cohen is a member of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which was created by Congress to promote commemorations of the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 2026.

Information about the commission and its activities can be found at America250.org.

On July 1, 2021, Cohen ended almost 12 years of service as the chair of the Board of Trustees at the University of Pennsylvania. He first became a trustee in 2001. Cohen spoke about his experiences at the university in an interview with Penn Today which can be viewed at penntoday.upenn.edu.