December 31, 1937 – June 20, 1998
The youngest of three children to Salome and Louis Berger, Gerald Berger was born and educated in Toronto, Ont. Berger graduated from the University of Toronto in 1959, received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Columbia University in 1961 and moved to Ottawa immediately following graduation to join the Federal Department of Trade and Commerce. He went on to work in various capacities in Defence Production and Industry, with the Treasury Board, the Board Secretariat, and the Prices and Incomes Commission.
In 1972, Berger joined the Department of Supply Services as director general, Supply Planning. In 1974, he was appointed assistant deputy minister, Commercial Supply Service, and in 1982, he became assistant deputy minister, Operations. During that time he was also president of Crown Assets Disposal Corporation, meaning that during the period between 1972 and 1984, he was at one time or another responsible for overseeing all the Government of Canada’s civil and military procurement, including major crown projects; certain foreign aid programs and procurement on behalf of other governments and organizations; transportation and travel; printing, publishing and related services; warehousing, distribution, repair, and other regional services.
Because of his business oriented career, he was seconded from his position in 1984 to become the federal coordinator for Canada’s first Olympic Games in Calgary in 1988. He was also a member of the executive committee and board of directors of both the Olympic Organizing Committee and the Calgary Olympic Development Association—the legacy body of the Calgary Olympics. In this position, Berger pioneered the concept of the federal government being an effective partner in major international events involving significant participation from the private sector.
In 1988, he was appointed chair of the Procurement Review Board of Canada, the review authority and bid dispute body established pursuant to the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement. Four years later, he shifted back into the realm of international sporting events as the appointed federal coordinator for the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games and special adviser to the Minister of State Fitness and Amateur Sport. In this same capacity, he represented the Government of Canada in the Winnipeg and Québec City Bid Committees for the 1999 Pan American Games and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games respectively. In 1994, Berger retired from the Federal Public Service and established Gerald Berger Consulting Incorporated and later served as the senior counsel of Government Policy Consultants.
During the 37 years he lived in Ottawa, Berger maintained a high profile in community affairs. He put in countless volunteer hours in a variety of organizations; he was a member of the board of Agudath Israel Synagogue for two terms; was active in the United Jewish Appeal for many years and served as chair of the UJA’s Public Services Division in 1975; he was the first president of the Jewish Community Campus between 1983 and 1985, ascending through the Executive ranks of the Vaad Ha’ir, taking the reins as president of the Jewish Community Council between 1985 and 1987—the first and only actively serving public servant to hold this position. He also was president of the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation between 1989 and 1991, and was involved with charities including the United Way and the Canadian Institute for the Blind.
Featured photo: Gerald Berger, André Sima, 1985, Ottawa Jewish Archives, B-035
Clipping: Giving Mazel Tov and Getting the Facts First-Hand (1986, March 14). Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, p. 1.