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On matters of principle

The departure from cabinet came with a stark, unequivocal statement: “I resigned as a matter of principle. The point was finally reached when I considered that my honour and integrity required that I take that step.” So spoke Conservative defence minister Douglas Harkness in the House of Commons on Feb. Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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Flag Day — Feb. 15, 1965

I always remember Feb.15. It is the day the maple leaf flag went up for the first time on the Peace Tower — and the day I started work on Parliament Hill in 1965. The Montreal Star office was a cramped alcove off a corridor adjacent to the main room of Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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On losing a justice minister

The loss of Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Trudeau cabinet this week is no small matter, especially since she was a proud symbol of the government’s twin push to elevate women to high office and to pursue reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations. The PM virtually kicked her on the way out Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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Ontario’s shame

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s decision to cancel the previous Liberal government’s plans to fund a francophone university for reasons of costs has eerie echoes in history. Tampering with historical francophone rights has inflamed passions from the earliest days of the nation. In 1895 John Willison, an otherwise enlightened editor of the Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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Remembering 1918

Few people in the world were untouched by the Great War, 1914 to November 1918. Some 70 million people were directly involved as military and more than 15 million —combatants or civilians — were killed. Journalists and journalism were marked forever as well. John Willison (pictured) graduated from the Parliamentary Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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Remembrance: The War Correspondents

Many of our great journalists made their mark during or after service in the Second World War, among them George Bain, Matthew Halton, Charles Lynch, Doug Fisher, Lubor Zink and W. A. Wilson. In an unpublished personal memoir in the National Archives, Norman DePoe , later the legendary CBC Ottawa Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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The Free Trade Wars

When he was editor of the Globe and Mail, John Willison was a loyal supporter of Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, going so far at one point to hold back a story that would have embarrassed his friend before the 1891 election. But in 1911, after Canada signed a sweeping free Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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The Dean: Bruce Hutchison

Bruce Hutchison (below), who died on this day 26 years ago, was a much-admired journalist who cultivated close ties with the Liberal establishment, especially his friend Lester Pearson. When Pearson became Liberal leader in 1958 Hutchison was among the small tribe trying to convince Pearson he was misguided in wanting Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago
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The Scrum

They are much more controlled now than in the 1970s when reporters gathered in Ottawa outside  24 Sussex Drive to question Ontario premier Bill Davis (above). Now, if politicians even deign to talk to reporters in an unscripted setting, they do so with the wretches of the press behind ropes Read more…

By Robert Lewis, ago