Ottawa, May 14, 2018 – The Michener Awards Foundation today announced the finalists for the 2017 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism.
The finalists are: Cogeco Media; CBC Edmonton; Global News; The Globe and Mail; The Toronto Star; and The Vancouver Sun.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will host the Michener Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 12 where the winner of the 2017 Michener Award will be announced and two Michener-Deacon Fellowships will be presented.
The Michener Award, founded in 1970 by the late Roland Michener, then governor general, honours excellence in public-service journalism. The judges’ decisions are heavily influenced by the degree of public benefit generated by the print, broadcast and online entries submitted for consideration.
The following entries are the 2017 finalists:
Cogeco Media: Affair Gilbert Rozon
Reporters Monic Néron and Émilie Perreault at Montreal radio station 98.5FM earned the trust of 10 women, who risked their careers to go on record and speak openly about harassment and sexual assault suffered at the hands of Gilbert Rozon, a powerful Quebec businessman and cultural icon. The alleged assaults had taken place between 1982 and 2016 and two of the women were minors at the time. The day before the broadcast, Rozon resigned from his private and public duties. Police are investigating 23 complaints with others under review. Following the story, the Quebec government created a $25-million emergency fund to help victims of sexual assault.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Edmonton: Public Health, Private Risk?
CBC’s Jennie Russell and Charles Rusnell uncovered serious irregularities involving grants to Pure North, a private health foundation of a wealthy Calgary oilman. In 2013, Alberta’s health minister ignored advice and approved a $10-million grant to expand a scientifically unproven alternative-health program that included giving 7,300 low-income seniors mega doses of vitamin D. In 2016, the minister also used the back door to give Pure North a $4.2-million grant for a clinic. Following CBC’s series, government cancelled the clinic’s funding; Health Canada and the Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta launched investigations; the ethics commissioner identified legislative gaps; and Alberta’s auditor general found deviations from grant policy.
Global News: Inadmissible
The Global News team exposed serious flaws in the way Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada handled permanent residency applications for people with disabilities and medical conditions. The multi-platform investigation revealed that immigration officials used faulty and outdated academic research to determine ‘a cost threshold’ and each year rejected as many as 450 viable applicants as medically inadmissible. Following the series, Immigration Canada reversed its decision in two cases, a parliamentary study called for the repeal of the ‘excessive demand’ section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the government has promised changes to restore trust in the immigration system.
Globe and Mail: Tainted
How much oversight does Canada’s newly legalized marijuana industry require? Even as Health Canada assured citizens federally regulated marijuana would be safe, Globe reporter Grant Robertson was discovering some companies were cutting corners by using illegal toxic pesticides — and scores of consumers were becoming seriously ill. One patient’s medical marijuana, independently tested by the Globe, contained no less than five banned pesticides. Robertson’s dogged investigative reporting ultimately caused Health Canada to reverse course, instituting new federal legislation for mandatory testing; and new penalties of up to $1 million for violators. Tainted’s revelations also became the basis for a patients’ class-action lawsuit.
Globe and Mail: Unfounded
In a massive investigation involving more than 250 Freedom of Information requests, the Globe and Mail’s Robyn Doolittle tracked dismissed, or “unfounded,” sexual-assault cases handled by Canada’s police. The result was this 2017 series — accompanied by the voices of experts and sexual-assault complainants — which showed police were dismissing one in five such complaints. The Unfounded series spurred the federal government to pledge better police oversight, training and policies; along with $100 million to combat gender-based violence. Statistics Canada promised to resume collecting and publishing unfounded rates. In all, some 37,000 sexual-assault cases were reviewed and more than 400 ‘unfounded’ cases reopened.
Toronto Star: Temp Nation
This year-long investigation revealed how companies are increasingly turning to temp agencies to limit their liability for workplace accidents, reduce employers’ responsibility and cut costs. Using Freedom of Information requests and undercover work in one of the continent’s largest industrial bakeries, Star reporters Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy revealed how some of the most vulnerable segments of the population are exposed to dangerous, and even fatal working conditions. The series led to tougher provincial legislation to protect temp workers, strengthen provisions to outlaw pay discrimination, and remove financial incentives for workplaces to use temps. Fiera Foods committed to an independent audit of its health and safety practices.
Vancouver Sun: Financial Crime and Globe and Mail: Easy Money
In these two series the Vancouver Sun and Globe and Mail exposed a shocking failure of Canadian security regulators and governments to protect investors. Sun Reporter Gordon Hoekstra’s databases for B.C. uncovered unpaid penalties of more than a half-billion dollars over the past 10 years, and fraudsters with $31 million in assets. Globe reporters Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso took the investigation of white-collar crime national, analyzing almost 30 years of security offenses. Data revealed that one in nine white-collar criminals are repeat offenders, evading regulators and fines by moving provinces. Both series sent shock waves through the investment community and governments. Among the changes: B.C.’s Finance Minister ordered the Securities commission to improve its collections and enforcement. Manitoba’s Minister of Finance introduced amendments to the Securities Act, Ontario proposed new legislation for Ontario Securities Commission, and RCMP announced new efforts to fight stock-market abuses.
Judges for the 2017 Michener Awards:
Kim Kierans (interim chair), Professor of Journalism and former CBC news reporter and editor;
Carole Beaulieu, former Publisher and Editor in chief of L’Actualité Magazine;
Margo Goodhand, former editor of the Winnipeg Free Press and the Edmonton Journal; and Claude Papineau, former Vice-President for French Services of The Canadian Press and former Parliamentary Correspondent.
2017 Michener Awards
Recognizing outstanding and unbiased public service in journalism, the award is presented to news organizations rather than to individuals: newspapers, broadcasting stations and networks, news agencies, periodicals, magazines and online journalism sources.
Rideau Hall Press Office