Berry Knew Diplomacy Has Its Risks

Paul Heinbecker
Published: Wednesday, 02/01/2006 12:00 am EST

The tragic death of Glyn Berry while on a mission to help some of the most destitute people on earth is a heartbreaking reminder that a career in the Foreign Service can be anything but routine. Glyn could and did succeed at desk jobs in Ottawa and in diplomatic assignments in Washington and at the Canadian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, as I witnessed first-hand. His were important tasks in those places and they had direct consequences for Canadian interests, not the least for the reform of international peace-keeping and peace-building that he promoted at the UN. But Glyn understood better than most that there is more to the Foreign Service career than conferences, board rooms and interdepartmental meetings, where the risks run are rarely more serious than a sneer from an overwrought political staffer or a scowl from an overworked senior official. His admirable qualities of compassion, commitment and courage drew him beyond the routine and the safe, to places where the job of advancing Canadian interests and representing Canadian values was more challenging and, as his untimely death showed, more dangerous.

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