Jan 15, 2013
Robert Fowler has had a distinguished career as a Canadian diplomat and public servant. From 1989 - 1995 he was deputy minister of National Defence; from 1995 - 2000, Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, and, following that, ambassador to Italy from 2000-2006. Over the years he has served as foreign policy advisor to three Prime Ministers, and as Personal Representative for Africa.
On Dec. 15, 2008, when he was in Niger as special envoy to the United Nations responsible for reconciling rebel and government forces, Fowler and his assistant Louis Guay, were kidnapped and held captive for 130 days by regional members of al-Qaeda. He tells the story of this ordeal in his book A Season in Hell. We talk about it and, among other things, Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner', sanity, religious fanaticism, mental illness, the Newtown massacre, and the clear and present threat posed to Mali, and Africa, by al-Qaeda.