Mr Bartleman had a distinguished career of more than 35 years in the Canadian Foreign Service. He was Canada's Ambassador to the European Union from 2000 to 2002. He served as High Commissioner to Australia in 1999-2000 and to South Africa in 1998-1999. Mr Bartleman was Ambassador to the North Atlantic Council of NATO from 1990 to 1994. He served as Ambassador to Israel and High Commissioner to Cyprus from 1986 to 1990, and was Ambassador to Cuba from 1981 to 1983.
James Bartleman is the first member of a First Nation to hold a vice-regal office in Canada.