I was a paper boy for The Province, and to this day, can’t wait to read certain pages.
It’s been suggested by an emailer that I hate Canwest!
Egad, a base canard as I shall demonstrate!
When I was a lad, I belonged to the Tillicum Club organized by The Province. You got a neat genuine fake silver totem pole to wear and a secret password, Klahowya, which was only to be used by Tillicums. I was a paper boy for them too. The Tillicum Club always put your name in the paper on your birthday and it doesn’t get more exciting than that. The Province doesn’t put my name in their paper any more.
The Vancouver Sun had its Uncle Ben Club but we Tillicums wouldn’t have anything to do with them. They didn’t put your name in the paper either. Actually, I should be careful there because good Tillicums didn’t dare look at Uncle Ben so I probably didn’t check it out.
My correspondent suggested that I probably resented being fired by Canwest and boy does that get my dander up! I wrote for Canwest (The Province) for a couple of years and I fired them!
What happened was that Canwest fired the publisher of the Ottawa Citizen after he did not agree to run an editorial written by people at Winnipeg headquarters and distributed to every Canwest paper. The day after the publisher gave a speech defending his position, he was turfed. My pal Gordon Gibson in his regular column for the National Post, the Canwest lodestar, was critical of the decision, and they wouldn’t print his column. I, then, in solidarity with Gibson, declared on my show on CKNW that I didn’t want to write for a company that censored its writers and therefore I resigned. *
It got nasty. The Province told CKNW management that if they didn’t shut me up they would withdraw their advertising. I wasn’t supposed to know about this but management had a leak and I did. I told my audience about this and suggested that just as those who didn’t agree with me could change stations, those who disagreed with Canwest should tell them that in the traditional way; cancel their subscriptions. Evidently many people did just that. The unpleasantness went on for some time.
Many firings along the way
Now I wouldn’t want you to think that I haven’t been fired from time to time. I have the distinction of having been fired twice by Jimmy Pattison (not him personally, we’re friends) but his radio stations and by the owners of CKNW. I was fired by the Black newspapers too and by the NOW chain. Then there was the North Shore Outlook and a family periodical whose name I’ve forgotten. I also wrote for the Vancouver Courier, which I left in order to go to The Province, but that was a very amiable parting which I later rued but they eventually were owned by Canwest so who knows what would have happened if I’d stayed? (Come to think of it, I think I know what would have happened!)
My current outlets
I also wrote for The Georgia Straight whom I left on the very best of terms to go to the Courier. I keep writing their editor to offer them another column but they don’t reply. I’m not quite sure what that means. I’ve written for The Tyee since 2005 and though the temptation must have been great sometimes, they haven’t fired me yet. I also write for a Russian online paper called the Strategic Culture Foundation. It’s got good stuff in it and no, I’m not in Russian. They publish in six languages including English. Then there is The Common Sense Canadian and www.rafeonline.com, my own website for whom I do regular blogs.
Now I wasn’t quite accurate about Canwest, for I guess they did fire me once. When they bought out The Financial Post, for whom I had written for several years, they simply sent my column back saying they had no further need for my services which, while effective, might be seen as somewhat abrupt considering how long I had written for them.
Actually, many years ago The Globe and Mail offered me a column on the op-ed page and when I told Diane Francis, then editor of The Financial Post, about this she got very angry and substantially increased my fee. (That’s never happened to me before although it has sometimes been the other way around).
I’m sort of proud to be a writer who’s actually rejected an offer from the self styled “Canada’s National Newspaper!” I was nasty to them in a book once (Canada: Is Anyone Listening? — to which the answer was obviously NO!) and for my pains The Globe reviewed it but only to the extent they raised supreme hell with me for being nasty to them. It was clear they didn’t think anyone should buy the book!
Still faithfully subscribing
But what about the Sun and the Province today? Do I still subscribe to them?
Of course I do and for very good reasons.
How on earth could I go through life, doing what I do, without reading Rex Morgan MD in the Sun and Luann in The Province? I think my wife Wendy and my daughter Cindy and I are the last unreconstructed Rex Morgan fans in the universe. When I come home from vacation the first thing I do is phone Cindy to find out what’s happened to Rex, June and that repulsive kid of theirs.
I nearly quit The Province when they dumped the Wizard of Id and BC but I simply must read Luann before I can have a decent start to the day.
I get my British Columbia news from Mark Hume, Gary Mason and co. in the Toronto Globe and Mail’s three-page B.C. section, and from The Tyee. I should add that I also get the Sun and Province so I can see what Vaughn Palmer and Mike Smyth aren’t writing about today and, at my age, the obits page is a must.
What about the fact that Canwest B.C. supports the nauseating government and truth challenged premier we have in Victoria?
Well I say what the hell, c’mon folks, be fair! Somebody has to!