Ottawa, June 18, 2015. The Globe and Mail has won the 2014 Michener Award for its series on thalidomide which exposed years of government neglect and hardships endured by survivors and their families, and that resulted in the redress of a historical wrong with the government pledging fair compensation, Russell Mills, president of the Michener Awards Foundation, announced today.
In a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presented the coveted Michener Award trophy to The Globe and Mail. The media outlet was among six news organizations honoured at the ceremony. The Michener Award is presented annually for journalism that makes a significant impact on the public good.
The Governor General also presented the 2015 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education to Rob Cribb, an investigative journalist with the Toronto Star.
He will use the fellowship to develop a plan for a national investigative reporting project that will allow students at the country’s major journalism programs to research, report and publish stories on matters of vital national public interest, in partnership with major media outlets.
Read Rob Cribb’s acceptance speech (as submitted.)
The 2015 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Reporting was awarded to Montreal-based veteran Radio Canada journalist Marie-France Belanger for her project, “Le programme de tableaux Numériques Interactifs au Québec”. Belanger will examine the use of technology in the classroom.
Read Marie-France Belanger’s acceptance speech (as submitted.)
Globe and Mail honoured for thalidomide series
The Michener Award honoured The Globe and Mail for its thalidomide series, a chronicle of the devastating legacy of the morning sickness drug thalidomide on children who were born in the 1950-60s with severe physical defects. While the system was overhauled to prevent a similar tragedy, the survivors were marked by a lapse in public policy and were all but forgotten. With great sensitivity, the series gave survivors and their families a national voice as they spoke of the growing physical, mental and financial toll on their lives. The public and political response was immediate. The government, which had not responded to the thalidomide Victims Association’s earlier requests for financial aid, agreed to a meeting. MPs voted unanimously to redress a historical wrong and support fair compensation for survivors. In March the government announced survivors would receive a lump sum payment of $125,000 and the creation of a $168-million fund to cover ongoing medical assistance.
Read the Globe and Mail’s finalist speech (as submitted.)
David Walmsley, Globe and Mail
Rob Cribb, Toronto Star
Marie-France Belanger, Radio Canada
Michener Citations of Merit were presented to:
This eight-month investigation revealed a broken chain of command when it comes to sexual assault and harassment in the military. Soldiers gave detailed accounts of how their superiors pressured them to forgive and forget. Those who refused faced retaliation, some to the point of being declared unfit to serve. The series started just weeks after the army had completed a review of its sexual harassment policies and pronounced them effective. L’actualité published data that revealed more than 15 per cent of the 6,700 female members of the military reported sexual assault or unwelcome sexual contact at least once a month. But only one in 10 report incidents because of this culture of inhibition. Crimes sexuels dans l’armée garnered swift response from senior government and military officials. The military set up a response team and an independent investigation recommended sweeping changes. As well, one victim who had been discharged after complaining received an apology for the harassment and was reinstated.
Read L’actualité’s finalist speech (as submitted.)
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
This began as a story on CBC about complaints that a McDonald’s fast food restaurant had hired foreign workers instead of Canadians, who had applied for the same positions. Through sustained coverage on television, radio and online, CBC demonstrated how a decades-old program designed largely to import those with specific technical and scientific training had become an easy and less costly way for employers to fill low-skilled minimum wage jobs, in some cases at the expense of long time workers. It quickly became clear that the temporary foreign workers program was out of control with the federal government unable to produce accurate statistics about the numbers of workers brought into Canada and what work they were doing beyond the fast-food business. The CBC stories forced the Conservative government to change the program. But those changes remain controversial as complaints continue in relation to labour shortages in selected regions of the country, as first revealed by the CBC.
Read the CBC’s finalist speech (as submitted)
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: CBC North
CBC North examined the troubling death of an infant in the remote Nunavut hamlet of Cape Dorset to highlight the unique health-care challenges facing Canada’s most northern communities. Nunavut struggles with a chronic shortage of nurses, who provide most of the health care in isolated communities. This shortage makes it difficult for residents to speak out when they have serious concerns about the care provided by a specific individual. It took the death of a three-month-old boy, the courage of a young Inuit mother to speak out, and the persistence of CBC North to shine a light on a problem that the government preferred to ignore. Through interviews and access-to-information requests, CBC North revealed that the nurse in question was the subject of numerous official complaints and had conditions placed on her nursing licence. Yet she was kept on the job and even promoted. The CBC stories, broadcast and published in both Inuktitut and English, prompted the Nunavut government to launch an independent review of the case.
Read CBC North’s finalist speech (as submitted)
The Canadian Press
The 2011 federal election and subsequent investigation of robocalls and other tactics undercut the belief that elections were run fairly and impartially with little opportunity to manipulate the results. When the Conservative government introduced its “Fair Elections Act” to address problems highlighted after the 2011 vote, The Canadian Press began an intensive examination of the proposed legislation. Committed to exploring and explaining the proposed new and complicated rules, CP found the Act was anything but fair, revealing that the government had manipulated evidence from experts to suggest support for its proposals. Through a lengthy series of almost daily stories CP uncovered the degree to which the new bill would significantly advantage the Conservative government in numerous ways at the expense of its opponents. The result was national protest, almost universal condemnation and ultimately government amendments to the legislation before it was passed to remove some of the Conservative government’s most egregious attempts to manipulate the new voting system to its advantage.
Read the Canadian Press’s finalist speech (Joan Bryden) (as submitted)
Read the Canadian Press’s finalist speech (Bruce Cheadle) (as submitted)
The Vancouver Sun
The series ‘From Care to Where?’ exposed the heartbreaking experiences and structural disadvantages foster children face when they turn 19 and must leave the care of the province of British Columbia. Through personal narratives and official data, the two-month investigation showed huge gaps in support and as a result of “aging-out” many of these youth ended up homeless, unemployed, in jail, involved in drug abuse or living in poverty. But the Vancouver Sun went beyond that. It provided readers with a cost-benefit analysis that showed that taxpayers would save money if B.C. extended foster care services and supports for 19- to 24-year olds. The series spurred further action. Eight universities and colleges are offering tuition waivers, and the provincial government has set up a trust fund for postsecondary education. Various community groups including the YWCA are also working to improve support and services in such areas as housing and work skills for foster children past 19.
Read the Vancouver Sun’s finalist speech (as submitted)
Judges for the 2014 Michener Awards:
Kim Kierans (chair), Professor School of Journalism and Vice-President University of King’s College in Halifax and former CBC news reporter and editor; Kevin Crowley, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University and former Business Editor with the Waterloo Region Record; Claude Papineau, former Vice-President for French Services of The Canadian Press and former Parliamentary Correspondent; Christopher Waddell, Professor and former Director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University and former National Editor of The Globe and Mail and Parliamentary Bureau Chief for CBC Television News, and Mary Lynn Young, Associate Dean at UBC’s Faculty of Arts, former director at UBC School of Journalism.
Judges for the 2015 Michener-Deacon Fellowships:
Susan Mitton (chair), former Regional Director, CBC Maritimes; Michael Goldbloom, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec, and former Publisher of The Gazette and the Toronto Star; Ivor Shapiro, Chair, Ryerson School of Journalism, Toronto; Maryse Cardin, Instructor, School of Communications, Capilano University, North Vancouver; and Sylvain Lafrance, Professor of Business at Haute Etudes Commercial in Montreal, and former Vice President of Radio Canada.
Dr. Diana Michener Schatz
On this 45th anniversary of the founding of the Michener Award, the Governor General of Canada and Mr. Mills welcomed Diana Michener Schatz, daughter of Michener Award founder the Right Honourable Roland Michener, and her husband Roy Schatz. Diana Michener Schatz, who holds a PhD in biochemistry, is the founder of the Michener Institute which was created with the unique goal of promoting the teaching of applied health sciences in Canada. The Institute opened in 1958 as the Toronto Institute of Medical Technology. The Michener Institute has educated generations of health care practitioners. Today, the Michener Institute is Canada’s only post-secondary institution devoted exclusively to applied health sciences education.
The Michener Award was created by the former Governor General of Canada, Roland Michener, in collaboration with the Federation of Press Clubs of Canada. The Right Honourable Roland Michener wanted not only to associate his name with excellence in public interest journalism in Canada but also to honour his daughter Wendy, herself a journalist and commentator, whose untimely death that year had shaken the Michener family.
Michener Awards Foundation:
(613) 727-4723, x 5179
Rideau Hall Press Office