Why do so many journalists enter politics — and vice versa? The list of journalist-politicians continues to grow

mike duffy senator

Why do so many journalists enter politics — and vice versa?

The list of journalist-politicians continues to grow

OPINION   Feb 17 -2018  by Paul Berton Hamilton Spectator  
Frederick Douglass is best known as an American abolitionist, orator, author and statesman. Douglass, born a slave 200 years ago this week, is also one reason we celebrate Black History Month in February.But it’s worth remembering he was also a newspaper editor. It may not be what he is remembered for, but I wonder how he thought of himself: emancipator, politician, journalist — or something else?And given the intersection of politics and journalism around the world in the years before and since, I wonder how others think of themselves. After all, the list of journalists who enter politics is long and growing.

Sheila Copps, for example, was a reporter here at The Spectator and at the Ottawa Citizen before entering politics, eventually becoming deputy prime minister, among other portfolios.

Peter Kent, former minister of the environment and a current MP, was deputy editor of Global Television before entering politics.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s current minister of foreign affairs, was a journalist. Michael Ignatieff, the former leader of the federal Liberals, was a well-known broadcaster in Britain.

Senators Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy are former journalists. So was former prime minister Joe Clark, and Quebec premier René Lévesque. Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein was a radio personality, as was current Liberal MP and former Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina.

William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor and leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, was a journalist. George Brown, one of the Fathers of Confederation, was editor of the Toronto Globe, and, not incidentally, a contemporary of Douglass’s and a fellow abolitionist.

Former Canadian governors general Jeanne Sauvé, Adrienne Clarkson and Michaëlle Jean were journalists.

Every country has a list like this. In the United States it includes Sarah Palin and Al Gore; in Britain it includes Winston Churchill and Boris Johnson.

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