My wife and l are indeed pleased to welcome to Government House this evening. Representatives of the print and broadcast journalism media on the occasion of the presentation of the 1982 Michener Awards.
As well, l should like to extend cordial greetings to the Right Honourable Roland Michener who has graciously consented to visit with us and attend this evening’s ceremonies.
The scenario of this evening’s events was reminiscent of an academy awards presentation with the sealed envelope and the blood pressure of the candidates rising as the card bearing the recipient’s name is drawn from the envelope ever so slowly, or so it seems to the candidates.
Having perused the information on each of the finalists I am cognizant of the extremely difficult role which the judges performed in selecting the winner I am not at all envious of their duties, but do commend them on the their efforts.
I am sure that it was with deep sadness that we all learned of the passing of Charles Edwards, former general manager of Broadcast News, who performed admirably and conscientiously in his role as a judge for the annual Michener Award.
The history of journalism has seen many changes and developments over the course of the years, as technology has advanced and now includes a great variety of electronic media.
However, the responsibility of the journalism profession has remained unchanged. In your chosen profession you face obligations of immense proportions. In your endeavours to inform the public, to present full, accurate, unbiased and truthful information you maintain an unwritten agreement to strive for the highest degree of professionalism.
The writers, editors and broadcasters should consider their responsibilities not only as duties, but as their rights as well. The written and spoken press has the right to freedom of expression within a minimum of guidelines and boundaries.
The “freedom of the press” and the “right of the people to be informed” are basic ideals inherent in the Canadian democratic system of government.
Safeguarding the freedom of the press from the pressures of individuals or organizations is often necessary in order to honour and protect those freedoms which citizens in democratic societies consider to be among their inalienable rights.
In closing, I would like to quote the following words of Mazo de la Roche – “No writing in Canada carries such influence as journalism.”
That simple statement reflects all your rights and obligations as a profession. The contenders for the honour of the Michener Awards have merited the respect of their confreres and their fellow Canadians.
I applaud them for aiding Canadians in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.
Thank you – Merci.
His Excellency Edward Schreyer
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
November 12, 1983.