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Canada backs Libyan ambassador amid Gaddafi allegation

Sandra McCardell's husband worked for a firm with links to Saadi Gaddafi.

Libyan flagEnlarge
The new Libyan flag flutters near the bronze falcon that once decorated the Bab al-Aziziya compound of slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. (JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada did not reassign its former ambassador to Libya because of connections her husband had to Col. Muammar Gaddafi and business ventures there, The Canadian Press reported today.

Sandra McCardell is taking Arabic language classes in Canada as she awaits reassignment, and will likely continue her work abroad, a foreign affairs spokesman said.

“Ms. McCardell is the former ambassador to Libya and is currently waiting on her next assignment. Our charge d’affairs in Tripoli will continue to serve as the interim head of mission until a new ambassador is selected,” Chris Day told CP. “Minister (John) Baird has been clear on his views of Ambassador McCardell's great work in assuring the safety of Canadians on the ground in the lead up to the liberation of Libya.”

The minister defended McCardell after reports surfaced earlier this year that her husband, Edis Zagorac, worked for a military-civilian engineering unit formed by Montreal's SNC-Lavalin and the former Libyan dictator’s son, Saadi Gaddafi, CBC News said.

Contracts there were worth billions, CBC said.

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Canada’s foreign affairs department ordered a review into the matter in January, and appears to have cleared McCardell of any conflict of interest.

“Ambassador McCardell did seek the proper guidance from the department’s values and ethics division,” ministry spokesman Joseph Lavoie told CBC.

Still at issue, however, is the fact the ministry only learned in late January of Zagorac’s past work in Libya for SNC-Lavalin.

The engineering firm came under scrutiny after The Globe and Mail reported it paid thousands to support Saadi Gadaffi’s lavish trip to Toronto in 2008.

Saadi partied with rapper 50 Cent, took English lessons and attended the Toronto International Film Festival, the Globe said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120321/canada-backs-libyan-ambassador-amid-gaddafi-allegation