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Ruthanne Urquhart

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Curriculum vitae. Ottawa Sun (left), The Maple Leaf, Canadian Vocational Journal, The Maple Leaf.

Headquarters job proves a surprising change

penGovernment downsizing pulled the rug out from under me and then slid in its place one of the more interesting and challenging jobs I've had at Defence. Minister's Correspondence Unit writers are tasked with crafting responses to the thousands of letters and email the Minister receives each year.

Virtually everyone who writes in receives a response, whether it is a standard response—as in the case of the many folks who write in support of or in disagreement with the purchase of a piece of equipment, for example—or a personalized response, to correspondence such as that from a member of the CF who is having housing issues, or difficulty understanding a benefit.

As an MCU writer, I personalized a standard response, crafted a new response or redirected/forwarded the incoming correspondence if the response needed to come from another Minister or a different area of Government. When I had finished, what I'd produced traveled uphill, under the scrutiny of various experts, till it landed on the Minister's desk for his review and signature.

The work took me back to my days with the now defunct CF Personnel Newsletter, when I responded to just such requests for assistance and information on behalf of Chief of Military Personnel. I liked working at the personal level, and it was satisfying to bring Canadians a little closer to the Department and to the Minister.

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