People who have made a difference

Several weeks ago, a book was dropped off on my desk to read by a Fort Frances resident.
The book, entitled “A Secret Trial: Brian Mulroney, Stevie Cameron and the Public Trust,” was about the ongoing investigation of individuals and companies following the court settlement with former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
It is not widely known that the judge who issued the secret search warrants for Eurocopter was James Fontana, formerly of Fort Frances, who has written the “Bible” for search and seizure in Canada entitled “The Law of Search and Seizure.”
“A Secret Trial” follows the legal workings of the investigation.
Most people also don’t know that James is an author of two semi-historical books, the most recent entitled “The Mad Bomber of Parliament.” His first book was called “No Cause of Death.”
When that gentleman dropped off the book, he suggested we were well-represented in Ottawa with successful Fort Frances residents.
The two others he mentioned were John Reid and Robert Wright. John, the former MP for Kenora-Rainy River, been Canada’s Information Commissioner for the last seven years. He will retire on June 30.
As the commissioner, he has been instrumental in trying to make Access to Information by Canadians much easier.
In his final term in Parliament, John was recognized for his honesty and forthrightness. Those traits did not end with that career and have found their way into his annual reports to Parliament.
In the latest report, John accused politicians and bureaucrats of hiding and thwarting the public’s right to know. He believes there is a deep mistrust of the Access to Information Act in Ottawa.
He would hope to have his term extended to have the Access to Information Act modernized. And he would like to see the Access to Information Office brought under control of Parliament—and not act under the government of the day.
It is not likely to happen, but under his guidance, many government departments today are more forthcoming with information.
John has made a difference.
Then this past week, I received an appointment notice concerning Robert Wright. Bob and I had graduated from Fort High in the same year before going our separate ways.
He went into the federal civil service and rose rapidly through its ranks. Most recently, he has been the national security advisor to the prime minister and associate secretary to the Cabinet (Privy Council Office).
His career is winding down in the civil service but he has accepted an appointment that’s expected to be officially announced later this week.
Bob’s career has seen him hold several deputy minister posts, as well as Canada’s High Commissioner to New Zealand.
Together, these three former Fort Frances residents have had an impact on Canadians.
We often track the success of entertainers and sports figures who hail from Fort Frances yet lose track of many others who are successful in their careers across Canada and the world.
It is always exciting to look at these successful role models.

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