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Guild mourns Canadian Press Reporter Dennis Bueckert

Canadian Media Guild member Dennis Bueckert, from the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press, has died suddently at the age of 57.

The following is an excerpt from an article that was posted on the CP wire Friday afternoon:

“Dennis was one of the few journalists in this country who was dedicated full-time to the environment beat on a national basis _ and dedicated is the key word,” said Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Canadian Press.

“He wrote about topics like climate change long before most people had heard of the issue. Dennis was an environmentalist away from work too. He cared deeply about Canada and the world we live in. He was a serious journalist who took his job seriously.”

“Dennis was a uniquely kind and gentle soul whose passions could be stirred, however, by his family, by his friends and by his work,” said Rob Russo, chief of the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press.

Born in Moose Jaw, Sask., Bueckert studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa. He reported for the Saint John Telegraph-Journal and Times-Globe in the mid-1970s, then moved to the Gleaner in Fredericton as an editorial writer.

He quit to study French at Universite de Neuchatel in Switzerland. On his return to Canada in 1983 he joined The Canadian Press in Montreal as a business and economics writer.

But environment and science reporting was Bueckert’s passion, and as early as 1986 he was reporting, from Ukraine, on the fallout after the nuclear power accident at Chornobyl.

In 1988 he transferred to The Canadian Press bureau in Ottawa and soon focused on environment and health policy issues, going green long before it became a widespread trend.

He covered such major international environmental conferences as the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1993 and the population conference in Cairo in 1994. Bueckert’s early work on the subject of stem cell research helped put the issue in the news and on the public agenda.

In 1998 he was a finalist for the Michener Award for meritorious public service in journalism for his persistent digging on the plight of hepatitis C patients who contracted the disease through tainted blood. Bueckert was also regularly honoured with internal CP awards for reporting and writing.

In 2005 and 2006 he was asked to act as a juror for the $75,000 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment, in recognition of his stature as an environment reporter. The award is open to American and Canadian journalists.

Russo said Bueckert’s last major piece for CP, a story on how the murder of millionaire Glen Davis had dealt a major blow to several conservation groups by eliminating their biggest benefactor, could only have been written by someone who had his in-depth knowledge of the beat.

“It was important and insightful journalism.”

Colin Perkel, CMG branch president at CP, adds: “Dennis was quiet, thoughtful and a real gentleman. As a reporter, he was dedicated to his craft and garnered the respect of those he dealt with. As a union member, he was solid and dependable.”

The funeral will be held Tuesday, August 7 at Ottawa Mennonite Church at 2:30 pm. A public reception will be held at the church, starting at approximately 5 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the Mennonite Central Committee (www.mcc.org/canada) or the Sierra Club of Canada (www.sierraclub.ca). The Canadian Media Guild has made a donation on members’ behalf.

We invite you to share your own personal reminiscences or messages of condolence. Please send them to Keith Maskell at keith@cmg.ca .

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