Tuesday, March 26, 1996
The Senate met at 2:00 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.
SENATORS’ STATEMENTS: The Late Paul Septimus Deacon – Hon. Richard J.Doyle
Honourable senators, one of Canada’s best known journalists died on Saturday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, the city of his birth. He was, however, a man of two cities. He was as devoted to the country’s financial capital as he was committed to its political capital. For years, he piloted his own plane between Toronto and Ottawa – the sooner to be in one city whenever he was in the other. That malady is not uncommon to those of us who work in this place. It is one of the appealing aspects of the trade that parliamentarians share with journalists.
Paul Septimus Deacon was a graduate of the University of Toronto – one of those who went directly from lecture hall to the air force. He also had a distinguished wartime career with 620 Squadron of the RAF. His record notes that Flight Lieutenant Deacon was mentioned in dispatches.
His career at The Financial Post was meteoric. He joined the paper as a reporter in 1947, became investment editor in 1952, editor of the paper in 1964, and publisher in 1968. He was also a director of Maclean-Hunter Limited.
He was at the helm in a period of growth and innovation that secured the newspaper’s national status. What he was not was any relative of the front page stereotypes among bosses who populate the newsrooms of urban Canada.
Paul Deacon was a soft-spoken, mild-mannered, elegant Canadian. At heart, he was an investigative reporter and, when needed, a crusading editor in the darkest jungles of business. He was a nut for accuracy and a believer in objectivity. His interests were not confined to his profession; witness his work and his influence during his years as president of the National Ballet of Canada.
At the same time, he made no secret of his attachment to the Michener Foundation. Paul, for a time, was the chairman of the institution that bore the name and the passionate interest of the former Governor General. It was Deacon’s perseverance that secured the financing of the foundation’s program of annual “Micheners” – scholarships awarded for public service in the media. The Micheners are the most coveted prizes in Canadian journalism.
It is fashionable nowadays in both Houses of Parliament to say that the time has come for someone to do something about that lump we call the press. Paul Deacon’s work to improve the calibre of his craft left us all in debt to this determined and accomplished pathfinder of the Fourth Estate.