The last angry Tory

In today’s sea of Conservative smiles a scowl still sometimes marks the staunchest if unruliest Tory of them all. Grattan O’Leary’s tirades have never spared his friends —not even now

Alan Phillips June 7 1958

The last angry Tory

In today’s sea of Conservative smiles a scowl still sometimes marks the staunchest if unruliest Tory of them all. Grattan O’Leary’s tirades have never spared his friends —not even now

Alan Phillips June 7 1958

The last angry Tory

In today’s sea of Conservative smiles a scowl still sometimes marks the staunchest if unruliest Tory of them all. Grattan O’Leary’s tirades have never spared his friends —not even now

Alan Phillips

Between three and four in the afternoon is the hour when hackles rise on Ottawa's Parliament Hill, the hour when politicians open the Ottawa Journal at page six. the editorial page that has been one of the most widely quoted in Canada for many years.

By Alan Phillips


ISetwcen three and four in the afternoon is the hour when hackles rise on Ottawa's Parliament Hill, the hour when politicians open the Ottawa Journal at page six. the editorial page that has been one of the most widely quoted in Canada for many years.

Editorials, by custom, are unsigned. But the Journal s lead editorials bear the unmistakable imprint of one individual. When the Liberals, in opposition, are defined as "political eunuchs and their platform as "a string of vague words and incantations sprinkled with moral sauce,” most long-time readers can recognize the writer: M. (for Michael) Grattan O'Leary, third president of the Journal, distinguished reporter, orator. wit, and dean of political partisans.

Following the war the External Affairs Department conceived the idea of sending several Canadians, including O’Leary, to Europe to talk to Canadian troops on the changes in their country. Two days before O'Leary was to depart his sailing was canceled. The names of the emissaries had come up in a cabinet meeting. "O'Leary?" Mackenzie King had exclaimed. "Going to Europe? Oh. no he's not! He'd be over there preaching Tory propaganda to those boys."

O'Leary, who is now sixty-nine, has been as well known to every prominent politician since Laurier as he was to King. But many friends have left the arena: today O'Leary's name is better known than his personality. To some Liberals he is the arch-Tory, pillar of Empire and privilege: to others he is a Liberal with a small 1. To some Tories he is a maverick w ho bolts the party line; to others he is the conscience of the party. Either faction knows enough about O'Leary to be sure he'll criticize as readily under a lopsided Conservative majority as under a Liberal regime.

"While Mackenzie King was putting glamour girls in Liberal clubs.” he wrote at the end of King's reign, ‘‘the Conservative party still thought ... in terms of some third-rate newspaperman hired at the last moment to get out election leaflets . . . committee rooms with sawdust and spittoons on the floor, paid organizers with election cigars and Union Jacks in the window . . ." It "gave too much thought to three organizations . . . the Quebec hierarchy, the Orange Order, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association [which] despite all of this concern and courting . . . deserted the party—and took out insurance with Mackenzie King."

“A political platform.” he wrote before the last Conservative leadership convention, "is impossible and dishonest. The most a party should do is lay down a set of principles.” The ideal of political showmanship, he suggests, quoting Will Hays, is not "how high you can raise a hemline and get away with it. but how far you can lower it and still hold a man's attention."

He cried “nonsense” when the Tories, newly in power, talked of repealing parliament's rule of closure. And when the government's trade mission to England returned last December. O’Leary remarked that the glowing reports of its “wonderful success” continued on page 65

The last angry Tory continued from page 23

O’Leary’s staunchest friends have been his stoutest enemies — llsley, Abbott, MacTavish, Howe

reminded him of a present-day Chinese philosopher "who when asked whether he thought the French Revolution had brought the world loss or gain replied that it was too soon to say."

But the Liberals are his favorite target. The "purification of the party," he wrote recently, would "require more than some Presbyterian prayers from Mr. Jimmy Gardiner or some sprinkling of holy water by Mr. Chubby Power." ". . . Mr. King kept the Liberal party in office: he did not keep it liberal. Year after year, with retreats, compromises, concessions and other office-holding devices, the party was drained of liberalism; its chief concern was power. By the time Mr. King had gone and Mr. St. Laurent had come there was . . . only a fortuitous collection of conflicting ingredients [around which] Mr. St. Laurent put a cloak of respectability . . ."'

Four times O’Leary's needling provoked St. Laurent to reply in person. Yet it was O'Leary who persuaded the PM to put up a statue to Borden, a Tory predecessor. And earlier, when the heads of ten famous Canadian journalists were sculptured in stone for a House of Commons wall, it was the then Liberal minister of public works. Dr. James H. King, who insisted that O'Leary be included. “1 vote with the Tories but dine with the Grits." O'Leary has said.

He shares the traditional Tory distaste for socialism. Yet he sponsored Charlie Woodsworth, son of the CCF's founder, then editor of the rival Ottawa Citizen, lor membership in the Royal Ottawa Golf Club. And when the club turned Woodsworth down O'Leary quit in disgust and did not return for several years.

Bantam in a Homburg

His staunchest friends have been his stoutest enemies — llsley, Abbott, MacTavish. Norman Lambert, C. D. Howe. O'Leary defended Howe so often that press-gallery reporters used to say that Howe must own a piece of the Journal. He also attacked him so virulently that, meeting O'Leary on the street, Howe would genially bark, "You damn rascal, what are you denouncing me for today?"

Around ten a.m. every weekday O'Leary alights from a Red Line cab in front of the angular six-story Journal building, a bantam in a Homburg hat. the ghost of a grin in his eyes, and the jauntiness of youth lingering in his stride.

His editorial sanctum is a shabby topfloor room lined with the yellowing framed headlines of two world wars, relics of P. D. Ross and E. Norman Smith, past presidents. O'Leary sits down at his cluttered desk, fumbles for his glasses, and frequently finds that he has left them at home. When the messenger boy has come chasing back from the five-and-ten with a pair. O'Leary scans his mail, checks reports on ads and circulation (now 66,300. slightly more than the rival Citizen), then leafs through the Toronto Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette anti Winnipeg Free Press.

An item catches his eye. "Good Lord!” he snorts, and stalks down the hall to the office of 1. Norman Smith, vice-president, son of the late president, and a scrupulous, probing columnist.

"look at this!" O’Leary exclaims, slapping his forehead. "What sort of idiot's paradise do we live in?” He paces,

gesticulating as he talks, demonstrating his belief in Joseph Pulitzer's famous remark that "there's no man worth his salt who doesn't find something in the paper every morning to make him damned mad." And as George Drew’s wife Fio-

renza noted once. "Grattan never feels anything half-way."

As quickly as it comes his anger passes. He saunters out through the high old-fashioned book-lined anteroom, into the newsroom. Dribbling cigarette ashes

down his sport coat he looks over the dispatches, matches quips with the city editor, comments on a story, lays a bet on the Friday night fights, then strolls back to his office. He swivels his chair around to an upright ancient Underwood,

then, planting his feet on a faded rug, he clacks out the lead editorial.

“The present parliament can [and] should dissolve,” he wrote in February, “in time to have an election by late March . . .” One week later Diefenbaker announced the election date: March 31.

Some opponents questioned the seemliness of a winter election. O’Leary listed a half dozen winter elections since 1911 and wrote that the carpers reminded him of the Frenchman “who looked out of his Paris window and said resignedly: There will be no revolution today; it is going to rain.’ ”

When Liberal L.eader Pearson returned from pondering at his “retreat” to unveil his very liberal election platform, O’Leary wrote: "Anybody who knows the birth pangs of such a statement knows that even if Mr. Pearson had produced it all fresh from his own mind he would never have been able to get it approved by his party, let alone mimeographed by his slaves in time for a 9.30 press conference. If Mr. Pearson was doing some thinking while he was away it must have been to wonder what his boys back in Ottawa were preparing for him Monday . . . This master of foreign documents must have found this the most foreign of all.”

Who said that?

He scatters his fire in all directions. One bull's-eye on the train service from Ottawa to Toronto put a diner on the pool train. A potshot at Bell Telephone prompted that company to examine its service. And when his Conservative ally on the Montreal Gazette, Arthur Blakely, misquoted a poet, O'Leary loosed a light satirical shaft: “As John Bright said in Paradise Lost, ‘a man’s a man for a’ that.’ ”

His columns are studded with quotes from poets and statesmen, obscure and famous. Three years ago MacGregor Dawson, writing the life of King, noted two lines in a book on Laurier by the late J. W. Dafoe:

“Ne’er the living can the living judge, Too deep the affection, too near the grudge.”

The author, said Dafoe, was an English politician who was also a literary figure. Dawson wanted the lines for his book. He tried to trace their author. He was joined in his search by Francis Hardy, parliamentary librarian, and two scholarly correspondents, Grant Dexter, Winnipeg Free Press, and Max Freedman, Manchester Guardian. It became a literary treasure hunt that lasted for three years and ended when the lines turned up in Grattan O’Leary’s column. “Why didn’t you ask me?” O’Leary said. “It’s a poem by Bulwer-Lytton called St. Stephen, published serially in Blackwood’s Magazine in I860. If you’d looked in the concluding lines of Morley’s Recollections you’d also have found it there.”

He never travels without a book of poetry, and attributes the lack of imagery in political speeches today to poetry’s failing popularity. Once he told George Drew: "George, you know the trouble with you is you don’t read any poetry.”

For every situation OTeary has a quotation which he yanks from the files of memory without checking. “A writer who can't depend on his memory and background of knowledge isn’t worth a damn,” he declares.

Occasionally a reader catches an error. O'Leary takes the letter down to Smith's office. “Look at this!” he bewails. His hand goes to his forehead, “Good Lord!”

O'Leary says, “1 would have sworn . .

"What'll we do with it?” Smith asks.

O'Leary looks up surprised. "Run it, of course. It’s good fun.”

Once J. L. Ilsley, then minister of finance, tore apart a Journal story sentence by sentence. O’Leary re-ran the story side by side w'ith Ilsley’s comments ("Wrong!” "Utterly without truth!”).

He explains his policy, typically, with a quote from Graham Towers, former Bank of Canada governor. Towers was briefing a parliamentary committee. "Two years ago you said the exact opposite,” an MP recalled. "Can you explain that?” “Certainly,” Towers said. "I w'as wrong.”

If a politician is w'rong O’Leary’s a “Rock of Gibraltar,” says press-gallery reporter Richard Jackson. Once Jackson sent in a story quoting Colonel John Thompson, wartime director of office economy, a rugged individual who took his job so seriously that he ordered cabinet ministers to quit using embossed letterheads. Thousands of dollars were being wasted on rugs, Thompson said, decrying "this crazy waste of money.”

The story sparked a heated parliamentary debate and moved Mackenzie King to icy anger. "I w'as scared,” Jackson says. "I got on the phone to O’Leary."

O’Leary was calm. "See Thompson again,” he said.

Jackson came back with a list of government rugs and their cost. O’Leary entitled that day’s editorial BY THEIR RUGS YE SHALL KNOW THEM: “Sitting on our cigarette-scarred linoleum we want to know how comes it that Minister of Defense Ralston walks on a rug costing $76.65 and Air Minister Pou'er on one at $245.95? Is that w'hat the Air Force does to people — sharpens their sense of beauty . . . ?"

Smith and O'Leary edit each other's work. Smith points to one of O'Leary's paragraphs. “Don't you think that's a bit rough,” he starts to explain. O’Leary interrupts. "Give it to me. I know what you mean.”

Smith brings in his column. O'Leary swivels around in his chair. "Well, Norman.” he says, “there's more to it than that.” Smith says, "I've learned over the years that when he insists on something he’s right." O'Leary seldom insists. During the Suez crisis last year when Smith blasted the Tory stand and defended Lester Pearson’s foreign policy. O'Leary’s sole remark was "A nice piece, Norman."

Reporters remember only one time that O'Leary killed a story. It was during a practice blackout in World War IL C. D. Howe, then czar of the country's economy, was coming off the ninth green at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club, smoking

his pipe upside down. An officious airraid warden came bustling up and arrested him. The story enlivened the first edition, then O'Leary ordered it dropped. ‘This man’s doing an important job,” he said indignantly. "Let’s not make him look like a fool for a silly damn thing like this.”

At five o’clock he checks the last edition and leaves the office. Occasionally he stops at the dignified Rideau Club for a Scotch and an argument, seldom losing. Once, contending that the Irish are superior to the Scotch, he found himself pressed by Donald Gordon, CNR president.

“How about the battle of Benburb?" O’Leary demanded.

“Never heard of it,” Gordon said.

"I’m sorry,” O’Leary said firmly, "but obviously, if you’ve never heard of Benburb, I can’t be discussing the subject further.”

Two days later Gordon phoned. "You Irishman!” he growled. “I've spent the last two days looking up the battle of Benburb and there’s no such blasted thing!”

Most nights O’Leary takes a taxi to his home in exclusive Rockclifïe—he refuses to drive a car although he buys one for his wife. Once, after a tiff at their Kingsmere cottage, he said goodnight, politely but coolly declined to accept her offer of a lift, and walked the fifteen miles to their house in town.

It was a lively household while their children were growing up. "We talked politics morning, noon and night," says Moira, the youngest, who married Frank McGee, young Tory MP and grandnephew of D'Arcy. McGee still recalls his astonishment on entering the house with Moira to meet her parents and brothers: Dillon, now a Vancouver Province reporter, and Brian, now covering Parliament Hill for the Calgary Albertan. (A third son, Maurice, is managing director of the Aluminum Company of South Africa, and a fourth. Owen, a bomber pilot, was killed in World War II.)

“I couldn't believe my ears," says McGee. “Here was a political brawl going full tilt. Dillon away out in left field, Brian staunchly Liberal, and Grattan crying a pox on both their houses. It was a revelation to me—in our home what father said went. They weren't talking as father and sons but as knowledgeable defenders of the faith.”

Moira remembers her father as a conscientious parent, always fun to be with but a little erratic. Talking one day on the telephone, saying “Yeah . . . yeah . . . yeah . . .” she suddenly had the phone snatched from her hand. "You can use it again,” her father said, "when you learn how to use the King’s English over it.” He was strict about little else. Neighbors would be startled to see the O'Leary doors burst open and the boys and O’Leary go racing around the block. Whoever got back last had to stoke the furnace. And O’Leary claimed he could run around the block anti stoke the furnace before the boys got back.

Though today he lives more quietly, reading before the fire, the humor is far from dormant. Callers are regaled with the exploits of Timmy, his mongrel terrier, which he tried to get on the voter’s list and failed. About to take off on a holiday, he once wired the manager of the hotel he was going to: AM BRINGING TIMMY.

Back and forth went the wires:






Fridays he watches the TV fights, scoring the points himself. He enjoys ballet and music, dislikes TV drama (“intellectually empty”), bridge ("too slow"), and cocktail parties ("a terrible waste of time”). He fusses over his clothes, insists that his tailor take out the padding, and complains of an ulcer his doctor cannot find. Thursdays, he plays poker, a thirtyyear-old ritual. Losing, he declares that no one ever had such bad luck; winning, it's by the grace of superlative skill.

Once a month he attends perhaps the most select club in Ottawa, the DiningOut Club, begun by the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Sir Lyman Duff— nine members dedicated to the high art of conversation. They rotate as hosts and once a year invite the GovernorGeneral. When a member once suggested bringing a guest. Sir Lyman said, "You can bring him if you want to but I won't be here. I want to be able to come here and discuss anything I want to." "He was right too,” says O’Leary, who misses Sir Lyman’s talk—"the finest I’ve heard on land, sea or air.”

One of the most articulate, literate Canadians of his time, O'Leary never went to high school. His father, an Irish immigrant’s son, farmed a hundred stony acres off Irishtown road in the Gaspé. O’Leary's real education was the Dublin Freeman’s Journal (which arriveJ on St. Patrick’s Day with a sprig of shamrock) and the novels of romance passed along by his Roman Catholic bishop. “We had three pictures in our house." he sums up his boyhood, “the Pope. Parnell and John L. Sullivan.”

He toiled in the Saint John (N.B.) Iron Works, and a brewery; tried clerking in a hardware store and quit to go to sea. One cold dark night, on the eve of a voyage to South Africa, he walked past the Saint John Standard. Inside, a light was burning. On impulse he entered. A bearded man in a green eyeshade looked up.

"I’d like a job as reporter,” O’Leary blurted.

The man surveyed him benignly. "What experience have you had?”

"None.” O’Leary admitted. Hastily he added, "I'm a very strong Conservative.”

The editor smiled and shook his head. As O’Leary was leaving he called out. "We'll try you. Go out and find a story." O'Leary came back with a half column on the harbor that won him a job.

Two years later, in 1911, O’Leary learned a reporter's job was open on the Ottawa Journal. He caught the next train and was soon assigned to the press gallery. He w'as twenty-one.

The Journal was twenty-four, the lusty creation of P. D. Ross, engineer turned reporter, a six-foot athlete who sometimes said he'd sooner shoot golf in par than double his profits. Twenty-five years before, while on the Montreal Star, he had paid four thousand dollars, most of it borrowed, for a half interest in the almost-bankrupt Journal. Acting on a precept of his erstwhile employer, Lord Atholstan — “get new's that people will read out loud to their neighbors”—Ross was now on his way to being a millionaire.

Ross was a strong Presbyterian. O’Leary was a Catholic. When the volatile issue of separate schools came up in the city council O'Leary asked Ross, "I'd like to know what you think, sir."

"Oh. no. you don't," Ross said. "You want me to tell you what to write. Well, you write what you think is fair and sensible."

O'Leary took him at his word. When Ross in an editorial assailed the American constitution. O'Leary wrote him a letter of rebuttal, quoting Macaulay, dc-

fining Ross' view as “all sail and no anchor.”

Ross called him into his office. “O'Leary, did you write this?”

“Yes. sir." O'Leary said, half expecting to be fired.

“From now on. any time you feel like writing an editorial,” Ross said, “you go ahead, my boy.”

From his press-gallery desk. O'Leary wrote all the editorials on politics. After a column on Sir Frederick Williams-Taylor, Bank of Montreal president, who was being quizzed by a parliamentary com-

mittee, Ross came to see him. "What in the world did you w-rite about Sir Frederick?" he demanded.

O’Leary showed him the column. He had simply quoted Sir Frederick, whose answers had revealed his snobbishness. "Oh. my God!" Ross groaned. "Sir Frederick is one of my oldest friends. Today at the club 1 put out my hand and he turned away."

"Well, there it is.” O’Leary said. And that was the end of the matter.

O’Leary covered the Titanic's sinking, the Halifax explosion, the 1 ondon Impe-

rial conference and the Irish rebellion, in which Ross sided with Britain. Now an assistant editor. O'Leary denounced Ross’ stand in letters to the editor, which Ross ran and in turn denounced.

Ross had one code. "Look, O’Leary,” he would say, "disagree with anybody as much as you please. But don't say anything that you wouldn't say at his dinner table.” O'Leary learned the lesson. He lambasted Robert Borden for his wartime food report, yet managed to retain the PM's confidence.

"Borden." O'Leary recalls, “was a

solid, colorless lawyer so painstaking that his staff had to steal his fountain pen or he'd never stop correcting his speeches.” He retired in 1920 and lived seventeen years in Ottawa, playing golf with O’Leary and writing editorials that the Journal printed although O’Leary describes them with a shudder as "the dullest in the world.”

Succeeding Borden came Arthur Meighen, who, according to Grant Dexter, "had great peculiarities. He would only see newsmen he liked and he only liked two: Tom Blacklock of the Toronto Mail and Empire and Grattan O’Leary.” O’Leary had authored an article a few years before calling Meighen the Conservative’s "White Hope.” Everywhere that Meighen went O’Leary was sure to be asked.

One night O’Leary was asked to Mcighen's house on Cooper Street. He found the Prime Minister working in the library.

“What are you doing?” O’Leary inquired.

“Writing my speech for tomorrow night in London, Ontario. I’m going to announce the next general election.”

"Good Lord! Could I publish that?”

“Certainly not! It’s top secret.”

"Do you recall,” O’Leary mused, “how Delane of the London Times broke the news that the Corn Laws would be repealed? He scooped the world in an editorial." Doubtfully Meighen agreed to O'Leary printing an editorial that would break the election news the following afternoon in Ottawa, too late for other papers to pick it up before Meighen’s speech.

Next day in Toronto, en route to London, the prime minister was greeted by huge black election headlines. A wire press man, checking the Journal’s news stories, had by accident spotted O’Leary’s editorial proofs. "Tonight in London, Ontario,” his wire story quoted O’Leary, "the prime minister will announce the date of the next general election. It is December 6.” In scooping the world O’Leary had also scooped Meighen, and Meighen was shocked. "But he was a gallant fellow,” O'Leary says. “He never reproached me.”

Meighen wanted O’Leary in any cabinet he might form. In 1925 he asked him to contest the Gaspé seat. O’Leary agreed, though Gaspé was the stronghold of Rodolphe Lemieux, outstanding orator and l.iberal house leader.

It was a comedy of errors. The Tories held their nomination while O’Leary was in Australia, a delegate to the Imperial press conference. He caught the first ship back and found they’d nominated another candidate. He insisted on another convention and beat the local man. who disappeared with O’Leary’s campaign funds. O'Leary hastened to Montreal and came back with another three thousand dollars.

“The Gaspé,” says Arthur Ford, then a gallery reporter and now editor-in-chief of the London Free Press, “never had such a feast of oratory.” O'Leary cut the Liberal vote by five thousand but lost the election. It is one of his few regrets; he would like to have spoken in the House. If he had, Arthur Meighen says, "he would now ... be recognized everywhere as the D’Arcy McGee of his generation.”

It was Meighen. parliament’s finest debater. who taught O'Leary to speak. “Never write out your speeches," Meighen would tell him. "At first you'll suffer the agonies of hell without a manuscript. But once you use it you're chained to it forever.” O'Leary developed a platform style much in demand today. He begins in restrained tones, his hands clasped

meekly in front of him like a diffident altar boy. Then he raises his voice and lets the rhetoric (low.

Mackenzie King defeated Meighen and imported Sir Henry Thornton to run the Canadian National Railways. Conservative leaders railed at the appointment. Cutting once more across party lines O’Leary wrote that it was high time Conservatives grew up and acquired some sense.

Tory leaders reviled him as a “renegade and traitor.” O’Leary was hurt but unrepentant. For weeks he avoided Meighen for fear of embarrassing his chieftain. Then, one day he received a command to attend a dinner Meighen was giving.

“You know how some of the party feel about me,” O’Leary protested.

Meighen’s secretary insisted. On arrival O’Leary found that Meighen had placed him on his right hand, above his former ministers and all other party leaders— thus proclaiming his kinship with an independent mind.

In 1927 the CNR formed a coast-toeoast radio network. O’Leary became its Sunday afternoon speaker. He was now an internationally known writer, London Times correspondent and Maclean’s Politician with a notebook, forerunner of Backstage. He and Grant Dexter were partners. Dexter did most of the research. Whenever one received a cheque he gave the other half.

Their three broadcasts on war debts irked the American ambassador. He protested strongly to Prime Minister Bennett. Bennett ordered Sir Henry Thornton to stop O'Leary’s talks. “I’m damned if I will,” said Sir Henry. “This is a free country. We’ll run a free broadcasting system.” Next year O'Leary rapped Bennett for hoisting tariffs on British goods and the PM cut him dead in the Rideau Club.

Power behind the scenes

Mackenzie King returned to power and O’Leary attacked him continually. But when O’Leary’s son Owen was killed in World War II, King, then at Quebec with Roosevelt and Churchill, with all the weight of that meeting on his mind, was the first person to telephone his condolences. Two months later O’Leary’s son Brian was missing. (He later turned up as a prisoner of war.) This time King wired, and in case O’Leary was shielding his wife from the shock he ordered the telegraph company “under no circumstances” to deliver the cable to the house.

In 1949 P. D. Ross died, ninety-one years old. He had sold the stock in his paper at bargain prices to his top men. These were the years when O’Leary’s party influence reached its zenith. There was scarcely a day that he did not talk with Tory leader George Drew and some Tories thought Drew too dependent on the man who had collected much of the money for the 1948 convention, who had made its keynote speech, and helped Drew defeat John Diefenbaker for the party leadership.

The breach that internecine struggle created now seems to be closing. The PM has asked O’Leary's advice and O'Leary, in editorials, is no longer non-committal about the PM. He applauds him ("He takes his problems by the throat"). He defends his actions ("What is wrong with a touch of drama, or even of melodrama, in public action, rescuing it from drabness . . .”). Sweetly reasonable, he pleads that the PM's opponent, Mr. Pearson, be given “a valuable apprenticeship in opposition.”

Last October, with the death of president E. Norman Smith, O’Leary moved

into the office of P. D. Ross. On his desk are four bells to summon staff; he has never yet rung one. He still eats with the staff in the Journal cafeteria, still forgets his money and borrows from a staffer, still argues with reporters over which cab line is best, Red Line which he uses, or Blue Line which they use. He has tried so long to get them to change that they think he owns Red Line shares. They also believe that he dyes his smoothly centre-parted black hair. Like so many views of O'Leary, both are wrong.

Ross wrote O’Leary’s epitaph when he set down the Journal's policy in 1886: “An independent paper ... independent of party or personal bias . . . independent of too much regard for its own pecuniary interests where what it thinks right may conflict with what it knows to be popular.”

Ross was a mass of contradictions, O'Leary once said, a radical trying without success to conform to a Tory tradition. It could be said of O'Leary that he is a newspaperman trying without success to be a political partisan. ^