On the retirement of a journalist from the Senate

by Paul Wells

Nothing recent, mind you. On Feb. 26, 1998 senators convened to say farewell to Richard J. Doyle, late of the Globe, one of the first senators Brian Mulroney had appointed to the red chamber almost 13 years earlier. I often wonder what Doyle, whom I never met, would have made of the world that has come into being since he died in 2003. I am not at all sure politics is the only field he would view with dismay, but it’s true that I was thinking of the Senate when I looked him up today. Here is some of what Doyle’s colleagues said on his retirement:

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): …Just look at his background. His entire career was involved with journalism, starting with the Chatham Daily News until 1942, when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served overseas with the RAF in Bomber Command until the end of the war. He then returned to the newspaper business and joined The Globe and Mail in 1951, where he occupied many senior positions, including those of managing editor, editor, editor-in-chief, and Editor Emeritus.

In 1983, when he was made a member of the Order of Canada, the following citation was read:

 As managing editor and, since 1979 until recently, editor-in-chief of the Toronto Globe and Mail, Richard Doyle has been the guiding intelligence behind the development of the influential editorial policy and the national and international coverage of Canada’s leading English-language newspaper. Largely through his guidance, the paper has set high standards of writing and ethics in journalism.

Colleagues may be interested to know that since 1967, 3,848 Canadians have been inducted into the order, and fewer than 100 are identified as journalists. I will resist a temptation to speculate on why this profession has been given so little recognition by the selection committee except to comment that it certainly must be nigh impossible to find many in this field who can match the ethical standards which Dic Doyle brought to a profession to which he is so deeply attached….

Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, saying farewell to Senator Doyle today is very difficult for me, because it is no secret to anyone in this place that we are kindred souls. We have regularly expressed our admiration and affection for each other, and neither Mike nor Flo cares because they understand it perfectly.

Dic and I are not just old friends; we are scribes of the old school – ink-stained wretches who truly believe that the greatest time of our lives was spent knocking around a newsroom through all hours of the day or night; out on assignments that were filled with pith and substance, but earned only a couple of paragraphs and no by-line in whatever notable publication we called home.

We share that special, almost mystical feeling that newspapers then, at least, were living, breathing creations with a heart, a soul and a conscience. We were privileged to be allowed to be part of them.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): …Certainly by his thoughtful interventions in this place over the years, Senator Doyle has been attempting to teach us the wisdom of prudence and careful consideration. He has been a good teacher, and I wish to place on the record my deep appreciation for the many lessons he has taught us. His speeches were pregnant with good lessons, for he did not merely present to us information that we did not have, but, rather, he would remove, for those who listened, the blinkers of repression that often prevent us from knowing what we potentially already know. This former flying officer would readily engage us in a militant operation against the forces that create all those blinkers, repressions, clichés and prejudices – for all of this, we are indebted to Senator Doyle.

 




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On the retirement of a journalist from the Senate

  1. Thoughtful of you. Senator Doyle was a wonderful and thoughtful soul. I still treasure my copy of Hurly Burly.

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