Ottawa, May 27, 2010. The Montreal daily, The Gazette, has won the 2009 Michener Award for reporting on the mismanagement of a water management project, the largest contract in the history of the City of Montreal, Russell Mills, President of the Michener Awards Foundation, announced today.
In a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Her Excellency The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, presented the coveted Michener Award trophy to Alan Allnutt, publisher of The Gazette, and reporter Linda Gyulai. The paper 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 2010 Michener-Deacon Fellowship to CBC national television and radio reporter Julie Ireton and the Michener-Baxter Special Award posthumously to Michelle Lang, the Calgary Herald reporter who was killed on assignment in Afghanistan last December. At the beginning of the proceedings, a visibly moved Governor General requested a minute of silence in memory of trooper Larry Rudd, also killed in Afghanistan. His body had been repatriated earlier in the day at CFB Trenton. She ended with a tribute to journalist Michelle Lang. (The full text of her remarks)
2010 Michener-Deacon Fellowship
Julie Ireton is a CBC News business and high-technology reporter filing stories from Ottawa and across the country. She plans to use the fellowship to investigate what she describes as intermediaries, double-dipping and cronyism in the federal public service. The judges said that her subject has “the utmost relevance for public policy analysis and issues related to the governance of the public sector.” Ms Ireton is a graduate of York University’s Glendon College and has a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University. More.
Michener-Baxter Special Award
Russell Mills said the Foundation is proud to honour Michelle Lang for her exceptional contribution to public service and journalism. “Michelle took great risks to make sure the public was well informed on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “She ultimately gave her life in this noble cause”. The award was accepted by her parents, Arthur and Sandra Lang of Vancouver (see photo). They received a standing ovation as they returned to their seats following acceptance of the award.Following the presentation of the Special Award, Lorne Motley, Editor in Chief of the Calgary Herald, paid tribute to Michelle Lang. He said that she “dedicated her life to journalism excellence which served the public good”. (full text)
The Special Award, established in 1983, is presented infrequently at the discretion of the Board of Directors to an individual whose achievement exemplifies the best in public service journalism. Mr. Mills explained that the award was renamed this year as the Michener-Baxter Special Award in honour of the late Clive Baxter. Mr. Baxter accepted the first Michener Award on behalf of the Financial Post. He and his family have been generous supporters of the Michener Awards Foundation. (Foundation President’s Full Text)
The Gazette received the 2009 Michener Award for a series of articles by civic affairs reporter Linda Gyulai about a $355.8-million water-management project, the largest contract in the history of the City of Montreal. The stories documented key problems with the contract and its bidding process that showed the interests of a business consortium prevailing over those of the city; a lack of oversight on contracts at city hall; and ethically questionable relations between former city officials and companies seeking contracts. After the City of Montreal’s auditor general confirmed The Gazette’s findings, the contract was killed, saving Montreal residents millions of dollars. Two top city officials were fired. The mayor opened the city’s executive council to opposition councillors for the first time in its 70-year history. Reporter Linda Gyulai on the water-management controversy. (Link to award winning series)
Citations of Merit were presented to
CTV Television: The program W5 carried “Beyond Justice”, an in-depth report into three killings by RCMP officers in British Columbia and the failure of the justice system to hold police accountable. Using exclusive access to police reports and forensic evidence, W5 revealed contradictions between the public record and what the actual evidence suggests actually happened in the cases. “Beyond Justice” also questioned the work of RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy was not reappointed and later RCMP Commissioner William Elliott announced that the Mounties would no longer investigate themselves in case of death or other matters of public confidence. CTV Executive Producer, Anton Koschany on the making of ‘Beyond Justice’.
The Globe and Mail: Working from a tip, reporter Paul Koring spent months piecing together the story of the Canadian citizen, Abousfian Abdelrazik, who had been denied a passport by Canada and who was sleeping on a cot in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, despite being cleared of wrong-doing by Sudanese officials. Federal Court Judge Russel Zinn ruled last June that Canadians have certain inalienable rights, including the right to come home, and concluded Mr. Abdelrazik’s rights had not been respected. The judge ordered that he be returned home within 15 days. He also found that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service “was complicit in the detention of Mr. Abdelrazik by the Sudanese authorities.”Paul Koring on the background of this story.
National Post: A series of reports revealed that the Crown and police in Ontario were conducting secret background checks of potential jurors in criminal trials. Improper jury vetting was found to have occurred in more than 140 trials over the past three years. The reports sparked an investigation by the Ontario Privacy Commissioner which showed that one in three Crown offices had engaged in improper background checks. The Ontario government issued a policy directive to end the practice and agreed to amend the Juries Act. As a result of the reports, the Crown Prosecutor of Nova Scotia has ordered an internal review of practices in that province. The British Columbia Privacy Commissioner is reviewing a case after the judge found the jury had been secretly pre-screened. Reporter Shannon Kari talks about his series. (Link to his award-wining jury-vetting series)
Times Colonist: A series about First Nations housing revealed overcrowding, shoddy construction and threats to health on Vancouver Island. The reports drew attention to a plethora of government regulations and stakeholders as well as First Nations governance issues that contribute to the poor state of housing. This was a major undertaking for a small news staff, involving a 12-person reporting team and three photographers. Following the publication of the articles, the federal government pledged $50 million for native housing. British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell also announced that the province would take action to connect reserves with off-reserve water and sewage systems. Reporter Lindsay Kines on the issues behind the series.
La Société Radio-Canada/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Reporting by the program Enquête revealed an unhealthy climate in the construction industry in Quebec, including allegations of criminal acts. Public sector construction projects tended to cost 30 per cent more than elsewhere in Canada as a result of illegal, secret deals. The Quebec government refused to call a public inquiry but launched a vast police investigation into bribery and corruption in the industry. The former general manager of the Quebec Federation of Labour’s construction wing was arrested and charged with filing false documents. The issue dominated municipal elections and the mayor of the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand was defeated. Alain Gravel on the Enquête report. (french only)
Judges for the 2009 Michener Award
Russell Mills (vice president and chief judge), former publisher of the Ottawa Citizen and current chairperson of the National Capital Commission; Donna Logan, former managing editor, CBC national radio news and founding director of the school of journalism, University of British Columbia; Kim Kierans, director of the school of journalism, University of King’s College, Halifax and former news editor, CBC national radio news; Christopher Waddell, associate director, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa, and former Parliamentary Bureau Chief, CBC Television news. Claude Papineau, former vice-president, The Canadian Press.
Judges for the 2010 Michener-Deacon Fellowship
Lindsay Crysler (chair), former managing editor of The Gazette, Montreal and former director journalism department, Concordia University, Montreal; Clinton Archibald, professor of public ethics, St. Paul University, Ottawa; Lynne Van Luven, associate professor of journalism & creative non-fiction, University of Victoria; Erin Steuter, chair of the sociology department, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB; Michael Goldbloom, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, Quebec, and former publisher of The Gazette and the Toronto Star.
The Michener Award is the only Canadian journalism award bearing the name of a Governor General and it is won by the news organization rather than individual journalists. The Award is presented annually for journalism that makes a significant impact on the public good.