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"I decided that if I was going to look after these children with MS, I had to prepare what I thought was a world-class program, and I was given the green light to create a pediatric MS clinic."

Dr. Banwell now directs both research and clinical work within the Toronto pediatric MS program. In 2004, her team published groundbreaking research in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that the Epstein-Barr virus may play a key role in triggering MS. "I feel that what we're doing in research is critically important if we're going to find out what causes this disease," she says. "But I also love the time I spend with my patients.

"I really do love my job and feel privileged to play a role in the lives of children with multiple sclerosis and other diseases," she says. "There is nothing more rewarding than feeling like what you do makes a difference."

Christopher Alexander, 37 Deputy special representative of the secretary-general for Afghanistan, United Nations

BY KATHY ENGLISH

For diplomat Christopher Alexander, now serving with the United Nations in Afghanistan, public service is indeed a higher calling.

Mr. Alexander, Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan, was appointed last year as the deputy special representative of the secretary-general of the UN. He sought the position because of his conviction that the future of Afghanistan has great geopolitical importance.

"This, for me, was a challenge not to be missed. The UN has a central and impartial role in implementing the Afghanistan Compact -- the ambitious blueprint for the next five years of international engagement in Afghanistan," he said.

"Afghanistan is a long way from home, but the issues we are addressing here -- building democracy, reducing poverty, fighting terrorism, celebrating pluralism -- matter for the entire world."

Toronto-born Mr. Alexander earned a BA from McGill University and went on to complete a master's degree at Oxford University. He joined Canada's Foreign Affairs department in 1991 and spent much of the 1990s in Moscow.

He was appointed to Afghanistan in 2003.

While Canada continues to debate the deployment of our military in Afghanistan, for Mr. Alexander, there is absolutely no ambiguity about our country's role, or his own decision to serve there.

"Few countries in the world are as receptive to international support and to change as Afghanistan today," he says.

"To work in Afghanistan today is to be part of a partnership on a grand scale between the international community and one of the world's least-developed countries; that is its own reward."

Mr. Alexander defines success as "cleaving to the unambiguously enjoyable." For him, public service is such a vocation.

"I would like to see more Canadians recognize public service as the huge challenge and high calling that it has always been," he says. "Little quickens the spirit like serving one's country."

While public service involves decisions that engage the interests of society as a whole, he believes the formula for success is the same as in business and other walks of life -- "hard work, integrity, teamwork, breadth of spirit, openness to new ideas, indomitability.

"You know you have been successful if you change people's lives and leave stronger institutions behind you."

Scott McCrea, 39 President, Armour Group Ltd., and president and CEO, Overland Realty Ltd., Halifax

BY LISA STEPHENS

'The great joy of my profession is to create things. You may never see your manufactured stuff again, but the buildings -- the places you create -- transcend your business," says Scott McCrea, president of the Armour Group Ltd., a real estate development company in Nova Scotia.

Born and raised in Halifax, Mr. McCrea's grasp of the enduring impact of real estate development on a community comes naturally to him. He is the second generation to manage Armour, a family-held company whose roots in Halifax are anchored to the integration of the ownership, construction and management of their properties, which incorporate many of the city's historic and traditional spaces.

To these enterprises Mr. McCrea has recently added his own venture, the publicly traded Overland Realty Limited, designed to leverage his Armour experience and community development savvy into the acquisition and development of commercial real estate in secondary markets across Canada.

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