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Keith Spicer

Keith Spicer, 89, on Aug. 24. After graduating from the University of Toronto and the Sorbonne, Spicer began his professional career teaching at the University of Ottawa in the 1960s. A defender of national unity, Spicer was a researcher on the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and later special assistant to Minister of Justice Guy Favreau. From 1970-77, he served as the country’s first Commissioner of Official Languages, appointed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to uphold French and English language rights for federal bodies with the implementation of the 1969 Official Languages Act. In between government jobs, he was a commentator and host of current affairs and other television projects, as well as a contributor to the Globe and Mail and a columnist for the Vancouver Sun. He served as editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen from 1985-89. Spicer was appointed Chair of the CRTC In 1989, however his seven-year appointment was interrupted when he was called upon by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to chair the “Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s Future” in 1990. Among the initiatives Spicer led at the CRTC was a campaign to reduce gratuitous TV violence aimed at children and backed telecom competition and lower rates. Spicer went on to become the founding director of the Institute for Media, Peace and Security at the UN-affiliated University for Peace in Costa Rica where he supervised the development of courses on media and genocide, media battlefield ethics, and women journalists in war zones. Spicer was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978.

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