In response to a recent request from The Naval Association of Canada, I contributed the following article for one of their publications. Since there is a diplomatic-naval theme throughout this piece, I thought that it might be of interest to some of the JustOttawa readership.
First off … full disclosure and brief background! I have absolutely no naval service experience. I was a soldier; a grunt, dog face, ground pounder or whatever. My uniform was a khaki colour, not navy blue.
As a member of the Regular Officer’s Training Program (ROTP) from 1960-65, I attended McGill University and Royal Military College. After graduation, the following four years in the army were exciting and included training as a para-trooper and jumping out of “perfectly serviceable” Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft plus a year of duty in the Gaza Strip (cut a bit short by the Six Day War in 1967).
A recent press article revealed that Dutch plans for a “Holland House” in Vancouver during the Olympics might have to be shelved. After many months battling Kafkaesque bureaucracy and bolshie unions the Dutch are at the point of pulling the plug.
FIXING THE FOREIGN SERVICE PROMOTION SYSTEM - A Modest Proposal
We all know the promotion system is broke. For years efforts have been made to find a workable selection process based on the merit: all sorts of tinkering has gone on to find a way objectively to grade merit i.e. through appraisals, interviews, competencies, in-basket tests, etc. These do not even address the question of how one gets selected to an assignment that allows one to demonstrate ones merit. Maybe we should, instead, be looking at some of the selection, assignment and promotion models that have been used in the past - some quite successfully.
Gone, But Not Forgotten
Part of the price for a fully retired life is being pretty well out of the loop. It was in a line-up at the supermarket on Holy Saturday that I learned of the death of Dwight Fulford, some four years ago. He wasn’t a close friend - more of a good acquaintance, really, as we ran into each a couple of times a year at the Bytowne Theatre or some neighbourhood function in Alta Vista. Nonetheless, the news left me feeling that I had lost something: a chance, perhaps, to say goodbye and to remind him of why I held him in such high esteem.
Below is Paul Durand’s forword to John Kneale’s “Volcano Rising”.
An Ambassador’s Diary
John Kneale’s book serves a very useful dual purpose: for those wishing to acquire a sense of Latin America, with all its foibles and complexities, it does a splendid job; the author has compressed into a single volume many of the characteristics of the region, using Ecuador as the template. At the same time, he has provided - by describing in detail his own daily experiences – a compelling description of what it is that a Canadian diplomat at the level of ambassador actually does.
Some Consular Cases
Jim Elliott and Bill Kilfoyle
Jim Elliott and Joan Ann
I was hired as a Trade Commissioner in 1961 so, in the normal course of events, I would have had very little to do with Consular Duties. At a large Embassy someone else would do that. Since providing Consular services was the Department of External Affairs’s single main source of contact with the tax-paying travelling public, it was of course entrusted to the youngest, most junior and least-experienced officer at the Embassy.