Category Archives: JOURNALISM

Book review: Party of One – Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover

By Irwin Block

Irwin Block was a reporter at the Montreal Gazette for more than 25 years and served as Vice-President of the Montreal Newspaper Guild until his retirement in 2012.
Irwin Block was a Montreal Gazette reporter and the  Newspaper Guild Vice-President until he retired in 2012.
(Originally published in The Senior Times)

As the New Year was approaching, a Nanos Research opinion survey indicated that Stephen Harper was regaining support due to perceived foreign policy successes and tax cuts.

But if the poll respondents were compelled to read this devastating review of Harper’s legacy, assessments of his leadership would surely plummet.

Michael Harris is an author and columnist of IPolitics
Michael Harris is an author and columnist at IPolitics

Journalist Michael Harris first describes Harper’s political evolution, from Reform Party stalwart and MP, to head of the anti-government, anti-union, pro big-business National Citizens Coalition, to his  takeover of the Conservative Party of Canada – the October, 2003 merger between the Progressive Conservatives and Canadia   Alliance. Basking in the glow of no-nonsense, business like stewardship of the ship of state, and for many Jews as Israel’s best friend among foreign leaders, two seminal scandals of his rule have revealed another, seamier side to his administration.

The robocalls affair in Guelph, Ontario and attempts to cover up the shenanigans of Senator Mike Duffy are described in breathtaking detail, as well as Harper’s other shortcomings. They indicate that under Harper’s reign, abuses have been committed that make the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal, which contributed to the party’s demise under Paul Martin, pale in comparison.

The book is briskly written and exhaustively researched. On the robocalls scandal, the only person convicted, Michael Sona, asked the writer rhetorically how a “22-year-old guy managed to coordinate this entire massive scheme when he didn’t even have access to the data?”

Potentially more withering is Harris’s elaborate dissection of the in’s and out’s of Duffygate – the various efforts by operatives in the Prime Minister’s Office, including disgraced chief of staff Nigel Wright, to deal with what began as “Old Duff’s” money issues.

After investigation, it quickly ballooned, with questions on claims for per diems and travel expenses when Duffy was the Conservative’s star bagman, crisscrossing the country on fund-raising expeditions.

Senator Irving Gerstein, the party’s chief bagman in charge of the Conservative Fund, first agreed to pay off Duffy’s $32,000 in debt to the Senate if he agreed to not talk to the media, then balked when the amount became $90,000. Was it a matter of principle or the amount?

Then came the now-famous emails from Wright to Harper’s personal lawyer in the PMO, Benjamin Perrin, when Wright says: “We are good to go from the PM…”

On March 23, 2014, the day after Wright paid off Duffy’s $90,000 debt, Perrin left his job in the PMO. Harper says he had no knowledge of this transaction, but as Harris demonstrates in this intricate account of the scandal, questions remain.

Wright returned to work for Onex Corp. where he recently masterminded two massive deals totaling more than $5 billion from his base in London.

Duffy was charged with 31 counts related to fraud, bribery, and breach of trust, prompting Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, to ask: “How what was not a crime or bribe when Nigel Wright paid it on his own initiative, became however mysteriously a crime or bribe when received by Senator Duffy.”

Duffy is scheduled to appear in court April 7 and the trial is expected to last 41 days. Will promised disclosures erode Harper’s standing in the polls? 

Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover by Michael Harris, Viking, 534 pages, $33.95

I sat down by the CBC and wept


I sat down by the CBC and wept was originally published in the The Telegram in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Saturday, June 28th.

The author, Marie Wadden, is a St. John’s award-winning broadcaster and producer.  She worked for the CBC for 37 years. Her last day on the job was Monday, June 30, 2014.

You can read her article by clicking here I sat down by the CBC and wept

Marie is  a member of the CWA  Canada Retirees Council.

I’ll march for the CBC … but not at any cost


The Canadian Media Guild is encouraging Canadians to write their Member of Parliament asking  to commit to make the CBC strong again. The CMG would like its members to send the following letter to their MP and share it within their community –

But not everyone is ready to jump in. After much soul searching retired CBC broadcaster Terry Ledrew of Pasadena, NL had this to say:

Continue reading I’ll march for the CBC … but not at any cost

Retired Ottawa sportswriter off to hall of fame

“Tom Casey is just one of those guys – always a smile and always a friend,” says Tony Cote who worked with Casey.  Cote, who is also retired and is an executive member with the CWA Canada Retirees Council,  was an Action Line columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. Tom Casey“Heck, Casey even heard the call and joined the executive of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild in the 1980s,” says Cote, ” a welcome and valuable addition. As a journalist, you could always count on Casey to not only get the story but to get it right.Does he deserve his place in the Hall? Absolutely.” For the full Ottawa Citizen story  about Tom Casey  follow the link below: Tom Casey heading to hall

Retired journalist returns to labour roots

In his recent video, Made in the USA: Tim Hudak’s Plan to Cut Your Wages, retired journalist  Bill Gillespie exposes the truth about the Ontario Conservative leader’s right-to-work crusade.

Even though Hudak is reported to have retreated from his crusade, workers are gearing up to take him on in the next provincial election.

Gillespie’s story was featured in a recent  CWeh! Canada newsletter.