I have been reading the Toronto Globe and Mail, religiously, for over 40 years.
At one time, the Globe was considered very highly as Canada’s national paper, “The New York Times (NYT) of the North”.
But today, the Globe- a mere shadow of its former glory.
I must confess. I still enjoy reading some Globe’s columnists. Liz Renzetti’s Saturday column is always sharp and funny. Ian Brown still writes beautifully.
Margaret Wente still impresses me with her courageous anti-liberal writing. And Liam Lacey’s film reviews are consistently bang on.
I also miss the excellent political reporting of Karen Howlett, former Queen’s Park senior reporter, who was always tough, but fair and never pulled any punches- with any politician regardless of political or ideological background.
But the same cannot be said for the current crop of Globe urban reporters and columnists- especially those involved with the almost year long Toronto mayoral election.
Okay. I get it. The Globe and its staff were so turned off by the personal problems of Mayor Rob Ford ( the crack smoking, the alcoholism, the inappropriate language while inebriated) that it parked its journalistic integrity at the door, when it came to reporting on Rob Ford.
I do not agree with this position. It reflects badly on the Globe’s professionalism.
But what I further do not understand is why has the Globe failed to hold to account the other candidates- Olivia Chow and John Tory.
From practically the moment Chow entered the race in March, 2014, her campaign was in trouble.
Although Chow had name recognition and was known as popular Jack Layton’s spouse, Chow also carried a ton of political baggage. She was feared as an extreme “tax and spend” lefty, way to the left of David Miller and closer to the scary John Sewell.
Many Toronto voters had never forgiven her for living in a subsidized three bedroom co-op unit while her family income exceeded $120, 000. Chow also had a negative reputation for having one of the highest office and personal expense budgets of all Ontario federal politicians.
Right out of the box, she insulted and alienated a majority of the Toronto voters in the vote-rich suburbs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough with her proposal to terminate the very popular and fully funded Scarborough subway for a third-rate bus and LRT solution.
Her first debate was a disaster. She was clearly defeated by Rob Ford. Chow came across in that debate as inarticulate, uninformed, confused and unintelligent.
I believe that Chow never recovered from that disastrous performance and her campaign went downhill from there.
But as to the Globe reporters, they ignored all of Chow’s negative baggage and they ignored her poor debating style, her uninspiring speeches and her unpopular policies.
It took the Globe about 7 months (September, 2014) to publicly admit that Chow’s election was in serious trouble.
But consistent with its anti-Ford bias, the Globe then turned to propping up and implicitly promoting John Tory, by once again failing to do its journalistic job and critically holding Tory to account.
For example, the Globe failed to take Tory to task for his classless personal attack on Doug Ford on the very day Doug announced that his brother Rob had cancer, was withdrawing and Doug was taking his place in the campaign.
Secondly, the Globe failed to properly call into question the gaps in John Tory’s business career- ie his many years of being on the board of directors of Charter Communications which went into bankruptcy.
The Globe also failed to question how John Tory with very little media experience could be hired as CEO of Rogers Media by family friend, Ted Rogers.
Recall Ted Rogers was first a lawyer at the firm founded by John Tory’s father and uncle, Torys. And then Ted Rogers and Rogers Communications became a major client of the same firm.
In this instance, the Globe failed miserably to ask and answer the musical question, “If John Tory’s last name was “Smith”, would John “Smith” have had any business career?”
The Globe’s crack investigative team also failed to delve into John Tory’s involvement with Rogers’ publicly disastrous “negative option billing scheme, during Tory’s time at Rogers Media.
In a Toronto Region Board of Trade debate, Tory had the chutzpah to deny that he was at Rogers when negative option billing was introduced.
In fact, I recall Tory was hired in 1995, one month after this negative option billing policy was introduced at Rogers Cable. And I remember distinctly that John Tory was given the task of managing consumer opposition to this Rogers’ policy, where consumers were additionally billed for services to which they had not consented.
Instead of critically analyzing Tory’s business career, the Globe instead hit a new journalistic low with its recent so-called expose of Doug Ford’s business experience at his family firm, Deco Labels.
Crack investigative journalist Robyn Doolittle, ( remember her from the Rob Ford crack video expose) thought she made a journalistic scoop by revealing that Doug Ford’s attempt to set up New Jersey branch met with failure.
Conversely, she proved that Doug Ford was a superior businessman to Tory, because Doolittle’s article instead revealed that Doug Ford single-handedly turned a non-existent Chicago office into a successful operation, purely as a result of his own efforts.
Ironically, other large Canadian companies, unlike Deco Labels-Chicago- failed to succeed in the United States ( ie Royal Bank, Canadian Tire and Peoples Credit Jewelers, to name a few). So the fact that Deco Labels- New Jersey failed, does not detract from Doug Ford’s success in the tough American market.
In sum, how the mighty Globe has fallen.
The Globe’s failure to hold Fords’ opponents to account during this mayoral election has called into question its journalistic integrity and objectivity.
Time will tell whether the Globe will ever recapture its journalistic reputation.