A Diplomat in Environmentalist's Clothing: A Memoir

Raymond M. Robinson

A multilayered memoir of a life well lived, told in words that are informative, entertaining, funny, and truly inspiring.

In A Diplomat in Environmentalist's Clothing, Ray Robinson relates how, as Canada's youngest diplomat, he rose to become, arguably, his country's most influential environmental official, serving throughout the first two decades of the contemporary environmental era. Robinson's account also details his central role in cleaning up the Great Lakes, battling acid rain, getting lead out of gasoline, and writing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

The book is also a romantic, though sometimes troubled, personal tale. The illegitimate descendant of an aristocratic family with a thousand-year history, Robinson nearly died at birth in London, England, before being taken as an infant to be raised by his single mother on Canada's West Coast. Adventures abound, including facing the feared Soviet KGB, evading murderous attacks in a South American jungle, saving the life of a Canadian correspondent, and helping transform a very poor Bogota neighbourhood.

After an unprecedented Parliamentary send-off, Robinson left for Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1991. Only fifty-four, he chose to end his Ottawa career and give full-time care to his wife, Ardith. Woven throughout this book are his experiences of a home life that has been dominated for nearly half a century by a battle with family schizophrenia, and more recently Alzheimer's, which tested the marital vow of "in sickness and in health" almost beyond the limit. A series of crises in far-off New Zealand forty-five years ago led to a dramatic spiritual transformation that enabled him and his wife to fulfill that vow and recently celebrate fifty-five years of marriage. Robinson also provides:

  • Constructive comment on the inside workings of Canada's Government and Parliament, with many anecdotes of working up close with fourteen different Cabinet ministers;

  • insightful comparisons between Canada and the U.S., based on his many visits to Washington, DC, in an official capacity;

  • informed commentary on some of the most important events of the last half of the twentieth century: the harsh realities of the NATO/Soviet Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis, and, spilling into this century, the always daunting impediments to peace in the Middle East.