Spector, Norman

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SPECTOR, NORMAN (1949– ), Canadian diplomat, public servant, and media commentator. Spector was born and raised in Montreal, where he attended Talmud Torah and Herzliah day schools, worked part time as a packer for Steinberg's grocery chain, and graduated from McGill University. After obtaining his doctorate in political science from Columbia and a master's degree in communications from Syracuse, he taught for a year at the University of Ottawa in 1974–75 before taking a position in the Ontario Ministry of Communications.

Spector moved to British Columbia, where he served as deputy minister to Social Credit Premier Bill Bennett from 1982 to 1986. He was heavily involved in the government's battle with labor unions. His talents and fluency in French drew him to employment in the federal government, and he became secretary to the cabinet for federal-provincial relations in 1986, then chief of staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1990. Spector became one in a series of Jews who held very senior positions with Canadian prime ministers of different political stripe. These include Mel Cappe, Eddie Goldenberg, Stanley Hartt, Chaviva Hosek, Hugh Segal, and David Zussman. In Ottawa Spector played a major role in negotiating the unsuccessful 1987 Meech Lake Accord, which would have had Quebec accept the Canadian Constitution passed by the Trudeau Liberals in 1982. In 1992 Spector became Canadian ambassador to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. As Canada's first Jewish ambassador to Israel, and as someone not from the ranks of the diplomatic corps, his appointment caused some opposition within the established foreign service community. Spector proved evenhanded and studied Arabic to go along with his fluency in Hebrew.

Returning to Canada in 1995, Spector became president of the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency and an executive with Imperial Tobacco. He returned to Israel briefly in 1997 as publisher of The Jerusalem Post. Following his tenure at The Jerusalem Post he settled in Victoria, British Columbia. He remains a frequent columnist for The Globe and Mail and commentator on Canadian television news, often on Middle East affairs. In 2003 he published Chronicle of a War Foretold: How Mideast Peace Became America's Fight, based on his articles in the Middle East.

[Morton Weinfeld (2nd ed.)]