This evening, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, recognized the exceptional journalism of this year’s six Michener Award finalists. The Michener Award for 2023 is presented jointly to The Narwhal and The Toronto Star for their reporting on the Ontario Greenbelt Scandal.

“The Toronto Star and The Narwal told the story of corruption at the heart of the Ontario Greenbelt. Their journalism accomplished what every Michener-worthy piece of reporting sets out to do: hold public officials to account and change our communities for the better,” said Margo Goodhand, President of the Michener Awards Foundation. “In fact, all of tonight’s finalists are shining examples of the power of investigative journalism at its very best. My sincere congratulations to these newsrooms.”

The Narwhal and the Toronto Star: Ontario Greenbelt Scandal

When Ontario’s auditor general presented her report on the Ford government’s Greenbelt scandal, she cited two newsrooms for providing her with significant new and revelatory details. Throughout 2023, the Narwhal and the Toronto Star revealed how politically connected developers benefited from buying devalued farmland just before Premier Doug Ford lifted Greenbelt protection of those lands. The Narwhal and the Star seized the public’s attention with a steady drumbeat of exclusives: how well-connected developers were invitees to the premier’s daughter’s wedding; ethics violations; the unmasking of a mysterious “Mr. X” who connected developers with government bureaucrats. The reporters persevered despite near-constant criticism of their work by the government. Their investigation culminated in Ford scrapping the plan to allow development on formerly protected Greenbelt lands and cost the government two ministers and two senior staffers. The RCMP launched an investigation. The reporting by The Narwhal and the Star, the auditor general has said, “greatly contributed to public awareness, and ultimately to the provincial government reversing its unsupportable decision to remove specific lands from the Greenbelt.”

The Michener Award was founded in 1970 by the late Roland Michener, then governor general, to honour excellence in public service journalism. The Michener Award submissions are judged by an expert panel of journalists who have worked in media outlets and in academia across the country.

The following newsrooms were awarded a Michener citation of merit:

The Michener Award Foundation also recognized the 2024 Michener-Deacon (Ève Lévesque and Marie-Christine Noël) and Michener-O’Hagan Fellowship (Jean-Hugues Roy and Naël Shiab) , recipients, as well as honouring two giants of political journalism, Terry Mosher and Chantal Hébert, with the prestigious Michener-Baxter Award for exceptional service to Canadian public service journalism.

Thank you to the 2023 Michener Award judges:

For media inquiries:

Jill Clark
Manager of Communications and Media Relations
Rideau Hall Foundation

[email protected]