May I say how pleased I am, as Governor General and also as a former journalist to associate myself with this fourth presentation of the Michener Award for Journalism.
I am somewhat envious of my predecessor whose name is attached to such an award. His chances of passing to posterity are the greater in thus being associated with the media.
Two weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to express some thoughts about journalism and mass media communications at the Annual Dinner of the Canadian Press in Toronto. While still shy, I felt very much at home, as between colleagues, as I do today.
I observed then that “generally speaking, we have reached a saturation point with our complete arsenal of means of communication: radio, television, newspapers and magazines” and I wondered if we were not running the risk of continuing the verbal pollution of the spirit even as we mobilize all our resources to combat the pollution of our environment. I leave this thought with you.
You now face a period of work that is as demanding as it is important. In the election campaign now getting underway, it is you who will carry the message between the politicians and the electorate. Your influence is thus decisive as is your responsibility, for you must ensure that this message, on which the democratic process depends, is fully and faithfully conveyed. An essential democratic right is at stake.
We ought to ascertain that the exercise of this fundamental right is not interfered with. It is up to the voters to make up their minds and express their judgment. You assist them in this duty by offering them complete and impartial information.
This ceremony offers us an opportunity to congratulate those of you who have distinguished themselves over the past year.
This is the case of CTV Television Network, the winner of the Roland Michener Award for 1973. This also the case of the Dartmouth Free Press who deserved the first honourable mention and of two radio stations who shared the second honourable mention, CHRC-AM in Quebec City and CFCW-79 in Camrose, Alberta. I extend my warmest greetings to all media. This honour which you have received today is reflected on your community as a whole.
I have already voiced the great respect I have for your profession. A man must be both a saint and a demon to succeed in it, so numerous are the temptations of the flesh and of the spirit that if offers. Like Eve, you have the power to choose. Every word you select can be plain or poisoned, depending on how you use it.
So it is with the greatest of pleasure that I take part in this ceremony honouring some of your colleagues.
My wife and i invite you to spend a moment with us in these halls which are destined to become venerable if not historic and then join us in a reception in honour of those among you who have been selected.
His Excellency the Right Honourable Jules Léger
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
May 16, 1974.