Distinguished recipients, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I welcome here tonight the members of the print and broadcast media on an occasion in which we celebrate their achievements in this most critical and demanding field.
At the same time, may I say how very pleased I am to have with us this evening the man in whose name this award is being honoured – my predecessor, the Right Honourable Roland Michener.
As a former member of the broadcast profession, and later through my own experiences in public life, l have come to appreciate the very great burden of responsibility that lies with this particular group of men and women. The obligation to provide a medium through which events and ideas are conveyed from their source to the community, without imputing personal bias or abrogating the authenticity of a subject, is a task requiring great talent and integrity.
The ever-growing influence of the media in our daily lives warrants continuous research and analysis. What is most remarkable, in Canada, however, is that the press can work in an environment free of restraints. Journalists need only be guided be by their conscience.
In a world where so many countries constrain the activities of the media with the firm hand of the state, where censorship and intimidation are the standard means through which the press are controlled, and where information is routinely strained through the fine filter of government scrutiny, the press in Canada enjoys unparalleled freedom.
In response to this privilege, and through healthy and active competition, I believe this country has developed one of the most sophisticated and professional media in the world. One has only to review the entries for tonight’s awards to appreciate the quality and calibre of news material produced in Canada, and to understand the extent of the public service they provide.
As access to reliable information gains increasing importance within our society, the role and responsibility of the press to conduct their activities with the utmost integrity is likewise enhanced.
l am most pleased to see through the example of the entries this evening that the standards which govern the quality of journalism in Canada are of the highest calibre, and that the public may rest assured that the substantial power vested in the media is held as a sacred trust.
Lest you ever be tempted to undermine the significance of that which you do, may l remind you of the familiar lines of Lord Byron;
‘But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions think’.
On behalf of all Canadians l thank you for making us aware and making us think about everything around us. To this evening’s award recipients, l offer my warmest congratulations for your fine achievements. l commend you for your very special contribution to the ongoing quest for knowledge and truth, and for maintaining the high standards of excellence which so obviously govern your work. In your example may be found the inspiration for further heights of journalistic endeavour, as you and your colleagues continue to search out those matters of greatest interest and importance to all Canadians.
Her Excellency Jeanne Sauvé
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
November 10, 1984.