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From Fay Wray to Bob Rae

What a trip it's been

The Canadian newspaper executive John Paton once said that the luckiest journalists were those who had held more than one or two of the few truly great news jobs in this country. By that measure, I must be one of the luckiest Canadian journalists around.

Joel with Fay Wray in 1977
With King Kong star Fay Wray
at a 1977 film festival

I began my career in 1973 as a rewrite man in the Montreal bureau of The Canadian Press, the country's national wire service, while still in university. The Quebec of those days was an exciting place, feverishly building towards the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics -- the first such games ever held in Canada. Political ferment in the 1960s and early 1970s also led in 1976 to the unprecedented election of a majority Parti Québécois government committed to pulling the province out of Canada. I got to cover the Olympics and the provincial elections that year.

And it just kept getting better.

In the decade that followed, I worked at the Quebec City bureau of the Montreal newspaper The Gazette as a staff legislature correspondent, covering that ground-breaking PQ government and the ensuing poltical upheaval, the federal elections of 1979 (that the Progressive Conservatives under Joe Clark won) and 1980 (that Joe Clark's Tories lost). I also reported on the Quebec independence referendum of 1980 (that the PQ lost) and the provincial elections of 1981 (that the PQ won).

In late 1983, I moved to Ottawa to join the Parliamentary bureau of The Toronto Star. Four months after I arrived, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau took his legendary walk in the snow and then announced he would not seek re-election. In the one tumultuous year that followed, I got to cover Trudeau's departure, the race to succeed him, the disastrous tenure of his replacement, John Turner, and the smashing electoral triumph of Brian Mulroney and his Progressive Conservatives. I stayed on Parliament Hill for the next five years, covering the Quebec and economics beats.

Joel with former Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa
With former Quebec Premier
Robert Bourassa in 1982

In 1988, I moved to broaden my media experience by joining the supper-hour CBC-TV news program in Ottawa, spending the next six years applying a print journalist's background to television news. In 1994, I moved to Windsor, Ont., as executive producer of the newly created supper-hour CBC-TV news program in that city. Working to tight deadlines, I led a team that took the Windsor program from scratch to on-the-air -- and No. 1 in the local ratings -- in less than six months.

After nine years of news management, I was eager to resume news writing. I moved to Toronto in 1997 to rejoin The Toronto Star, this time as legislature bureau chief at Queens Park. I got to cover Premier Mike Harris's Progressive Conservatives as they took Ontario hard right after five years of the NDP under Bob Rae. I also returned to the old federal-provincial beat, covering Premiers' meetings in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Joel with former Ontario Premier Bob Rae
With former Ontario Premier Bob
Rae at CJFE awards dinner in 2003

In 1999, I returned to CBC-TV as executive producer of the Toronto supper-hour news program. Following an internal reorganization, I left to become executive director in 2001 of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), an advocacy group working to preserve and promote press freedom and free expression in Canada and abroad. After two years there, I took the plunge and went freelance. Here I am.

Email to joel@joelruimy.com

Copyright © 2004 Joel Ruimy

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