The 2013 Michener Award finalists talk about their award winning stories and the people who helped make them happen – Michener Awards Ceremony, June 11, 2014.
The Toronto Star revealed a serious public concern about the activities and behaviour of Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford that resulted in a police investigation and Ford being stripped of all his powers. Investigative journalist Kevin Donovan talks about some of the issues surrounding the Star’s coverage.
Thank you so much your Excellencies, fellow nominees, fellowship winners, ladies and gentlemen
Local government is government closest to the people. It is important government. The women and men who occupy elected positions as councillor and as mayor must lead effectively and they must lead honestly. They should aspire to be role models for both adults and youth.
Rob Ford of Toronto, as an investigation by the Toronto Star has shown, failed the people who elected him, first councillor, then Mayor. His bigotry and racism were the opposite of what Canada’s largest city aspires to.
The roots of our probe began with City Hall reporters who questioned his governance and his brutish antics at council.
Our investigative team took a strong interest when the Mayor arrived seriously impaired at an important Military gala celebrating the tradition of soldiers and officers in Canada.
In the year that followed this event, reporters and editors from all parts of the Toronto Star dove into a story that Ford and his many supporters labelled pathological lies. We wrestled the entire time with ethical issues that I’m sure will be discussed in journalism classes for many years to come.
The story was and continues to be much more than a tale of a mayor smoking crack cocaine. It is a story of abuse of power by a rich, privileged man who through artful campaigning and brash football tactics hoodwinked so many for so long.
It is a story of a top politician who drives drunk with impunity.
It is a story of a purported law and order politician who consorts with gun and drug dealers who hurt and continue to hurt our city.
It is the story of the man who vowed to improve City Hall – then proceeded to use the office for his benefit, mistreating and frightening staff, arranging side deals for friends, and embarrassing his city on the international stage with lewd and impolitic remarks.
This has not been an easy story to tell. There have been times when the wisdom of our lawyer and leaders at the Toronto Star has caused us to keep our powder dry.
Everything we know has not been published because caught up in this maelstrom is a family and children.
I would like to thank and acknowledge my reporting partner Jayme Poisson, editors Michael Cooke, Jane Davenport, Irene Gentle, John Cruickshank, our lawyer Bert Bruser and John Honderich, the soul of our organization.
We really appreciate it and I know that all the places that are honoured tonight have people like that and we are very thankful for them.
What we have published has shone a bright light on the previously dark world of a man who is now Canada’s most infamous politician. Though painful at times the stories of Mayor Ford’s actions have caused a change. City Council can now function.
That local government that is so important to 2.5 million taxpayers – people – is getting back on track.
Thank you for recognizing these stories and congratulation to all the nominees.
Michener Awards Ceremony
June 11, 2014.