The first annual meeting of the board of the Michener Awards Foundation was held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, November 12, 1983, in the library of the National Press Club of Canada, 150 Wellington Street, Ottawa.
Present were: Rt. Hon. Roland Michener, Paul Deacon, president, in the chair; and Rennie MacKenzie, William MacPherson, Gordon Williams, Fraser MacDougall, Davidson Dunton, Patrick O’Callaghan, Clark Davey, Jean Paré, Murray Chercover, Frank Rutter, Thérèse Sévigny. Yvan Morin represented the board’s solicitors, and Ida Entwhistle, co-ordinator of awards for the CBC, sat in as an observer at Mme. Sévigny’s request.
Mr. Michener, at the president’s request, opened proceedings with remarks in which he expressed his appreciation to the board for their interest in the Michener Award and his satisfaction with the way in which the project had developed. He said that since the “inspiration” for the award in 1969, it had served a sound and useful purpose in its encouragement of the journalistic media across the country. He also paid tribute to his successors as Governor General for a continued interest in the award, which he felt focused attention on public service as performed by the press.
Mr. Michener offered whatever continuing service he could give to the award project, and said he would not mind if the board decided that changing the name to the “Governor General’s Award” would make it more effective.
Mr. Deacon, in paying tribute to Mr. Michener’s dedicated interest in the award, said he felt a vote would be unanimous to keep the Michener name for the award. He went on to report briefly on the minutes of an August 31, 1983, board meeting, and on motion of Mr. MacDougall (Mr. MacKenzie) the minutes were adopted.
The directors then viewed a 25-minute videotape of an interview Don Hoskins conducted with Mr. MacPherson for broadcast that evening by television station CHRO, in which Mr. MacPherson provided information on the background and development of the Michener Award.
Mr. Williams gave a brief treasurer’s report, showing a current bank balance of $4,596.80, and on his motion (seconded by Mr. MacDougall) the report was adopted.
Mr. Williams moved, seconded by Mr. MacDougall, that the firm of Clarkson Gordon be appointed auditors for the Foundation for 1983. Motion carried.
Mr. Deacon then asked for a general discussion concerning interest in the Michener Award. Mr. Chercover felt the annual announcement of the award should be more impressive, and should contain such additional information as a list of previous award winners.
Mr. O’Callaghan said he was concerned about the time lapse between the end of the calendar year for which the award was won and its actual presentation. After some discussion, it was agreed an earlier date should be sought from Government House for the presentation and that the call for entries, judging, etc., should be moved ahead accordingly. It was also agreed that the mailing list for the award should be expanded to include senior management personnel, and consideration should be given to increasing the number of judges, perhaps on a rotating-panel basis. It was also agreed that a way should be found to include working journalists as judges.
The discussion turned to fund-raising, and Mr. MacDougall reported efforts were underway to recruit Allan Taylor, president of the Royal Bank, as chairman of the fund-raising campaign. Mr. Deacon said a target of $500,000, to provide an annual budget of $50,000, was being considered. That amount would cover annual expenses of the award competition, as well as providing an annual scholarship, as contemplated in the terms of incorporation of the foundation.
Considerable discussion ensued on the nature of the scholarship, particularly on Mr. Davey’s suggestion that it be some form of travelling fellowship. Mr. Michener suggested it might be tied directly to the current Michener Award-winning project, since often an individual was largely responsible for the winning project. Mr. Dunton said he felt the terms of incorporation would dictate that the scholarship would have to involve a university, rather than, say, a straight level grant for visits to other parts of Canada. Mr. Deacon asked Mr. Davey to put his suggestion in writing.
Mr. Chercover raised the possibility of a special award in memory of Clark Todd, the CTV reporter who was killed while covering events in Lebanon. It was agreed that such an award might well be made by the Foundation under such exceptional circumstances as Mr. Todd’s death, and only occasionally, at the discretion of the board. On a motion by Mr. Davey (seconded by Mr. O’Callaghan) it was agreed that the announcement of such an award in Mr. Todd’s memory would be made by Mr. Deacon at the Michener Award dinner at Government House that evening.
After lunch, the discussion returned to fund-raising. Mr. O’Callaghan suggested Conrad Black might be approached as campaign chairman if Mr. Taylor was not available. He also suggested head offices of newspaper groups, rather than individual newspapers, should be canvassed. Mr. Chercover said individual members of CTV should be approached, but he would also raise the matter with the CTV board. Further discussion involved potential contributors, including a number of foundations. It was agreed that professional public relations assistance could well be required for the campaign.
It was agreed that the 1984 annual meeting should again coincide with the Michener Award dinner. Mr. Michener agreed to become honorary head of the Foundation with the title of Founding Patron. Mr. Michener commented that he had been very encouraged by the conduct of the meeting, “and I now think that the organization might outlast me!”
The meeting adjourned at 2 p.m.
November 12, 1983