Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for your magnificent support of the Michener Award with this dinner.
I think I should begin by reassuring you, Your Excellency, that you are not on this occasion to be subjected to yet another rendition of your hometown anthem, which, as you know so well, begins – Beausejour, Beausejour, flower of East Manitoba. However, I give no guarantees that a full rendition will not be perpetrated once we all adjourn to the National Press Club at the conclusion of these ceremonies.
As you know, this year’s presentation of the Michener Award is following a new and different format, with overtones of the Academy Awards. I am involved in the proceedings as one of the founding fathers, as it were – I feel like sort of the Gregory Peck of the Michener Awards.
At any rate, I have been involved with the Michener since its beginnings about 10 years ago, when the Right Honourable Roland Michener lent his name and his active interest to an annual award for meritorious public service in Canadian journalism. I had occasion to go back through the files recently and was reminded of just how active Mr. Michener’s interest was. Just as one example, it was Mr. Michener who commissioned John Matthews to design the award trophy that you see here tonight, and I hope you agree with me that a most handsome trophy it is. It is a matter for regret that Mr. Michener is not with us tonight. He certainly would have been, but for a very long-standing commitment he had in Kingston.
He did, however, participate rather inadvertently in these proceedings. The organizing committee was completing the planning of this evening’s proceedings a few weeks ago in the library of the National Press Club, when a familiar face poked tentatively through the door. It was that of Mr. Michener. He had been about to relax with some tea and toast in the Rideau Club when the steward urgently advised him to leave, since there seemed to be a bit of smoke coming from the basement. Mr. Michener left – the last Rideau Club member to enjoy the premises before they were consumed by flames – and toddled on down to his other club along Wellington Street.
Anyway, collaborating with Mr. Michener in the establishment of the award was the Federation of Press Clubs of Canada, and I’m delighted that with us tonight is one of the enthusiastic architects of that federation, Mr. Barry Mather. The federation, later renamed Press Club Canada, has unfortunately fallen into some disarray in recent times but the task of administering the Michener Award has been taken up gladly by the National Press Club of Canada.
Many people have contributed over the years to the success of this project, but certainly none more than the dedicated judges of the competition. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to two former judges who are with us tonight – Mr. Davidson Dunton and M. Yves Jasmin.
And I would like to thank most sincerely the judges of the 1978 Michener competition, whose report you are to hear very soon. Those judges were: Charlie Edwards, retired general manager of Broadcast News; Emery LeBlanc, the former L’Evangeline editor who now is public relations director for Via Rail; Mr. Bill Boss, the distinguished former CP correspondent who now is director of public relations with the University of Ottawa; and the chairman of the judging panel, Mr. Fraser MacDougall, former CP Ottawa bureau chief who is now the executive-secretary of the Ontario Press Council.
I would like to call on Fraser now to deliver the report of the judges for the 1978 Michener Award, for Journalism. Fraser?
Chairman, Press Club Canada, Michener Award Committee
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
November 3, 1979.