It is a great honour to welcome you to Rideau Hall for this celebration of the very best in Canadian journalism.
As a former law professor and dean, and now as governor general, I often speak of my love for the rule of law – by which I mean our legal system centred upon the constant, relentless pursuit of justice.
Law without the pursuit of justice is just so many words. This fact is acutely understood by our finest journalists.
And of course, it is the pursuit of justice that compels our best journalists to do their important work.
Each of you understands why the following fundamental freedom is written very near to the beginning of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”
Likewise, you understand why Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the freedom to “receive and impart information.”
These are the rules that make us free. These rights are enshrined in the pre-eminent statements of our civilization because, as you know, what we don’t know can hurt us.
This understanding forms the basis of the remarkable work done by each of the nominees for this year’s Michener Award.
Each of you knows the power of knowledge to bring about change, and, importantly, you trust in the intelligence and ability of your readers, listeners and viewers to take your findings and act accordingly in the public interest.
The Michener Award goes to a news organization that has made a significant contribution to the public good in either print or broadcast media. The nominees for this year’s award have pursued justice in a variety of ways.
In matters related to health and social policy, good government, corporate social responsibility, free and fair elections and worker safety, you have provoked public discussion and inspired positive change.
That this award goes to a news organization rather than an individual reflects the fact that the best journalism is rarely the product of an individual. Rather, a great deal of teamwork and collaboration is involved in producing news of this depth and impact.
I am also delighted to present the Michener-Deacon Fellowships today. These fellowships support innovative projects in investigative journalism and journalism education, and I would like to commend their recipients and wish them the very best.
To the finalists and winner of this year’s Michener Award, I offer my congratulations.
On behalf of all Canadians, thank you for your great work. Canada is a better place as a result.
His Excellency David Johnston
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
Tuesday, June 18, 2013