THE LAST OF A BREED OF KINGS
Not since the industrial imperialists of the last century has one man icon and held dominion over people and ivealth on the lordly scale of K. C. Irving in the Maritimes. This is the first full account of why and how he does it
AMONG THE TENS OF THOUSANDS of people who come directly and indirectly within the orbit of Kenneth Colin Irving — as the beneficiaries or, as some insist, the victims, of his huge and diverse industrial enterprises on Canada's Atlantic and St. Lawrence seaboards — there is one doctrine, and only one, on which everybody can find full and instant agreement.
There will never, certainly not in the rapidly fossilizing business society of North America, be another like him.
The world in which K. C. Irving pursues his lonely and sometimes mysterious path, the world of Biggest Business and the multi-multimillionaire, has undergone profound genetic changes since Irving's birth in 1899. It has cornered and almost exterminated the old-fashioned lone wolf. It has pinned the frontier buster and the adventurer behind a teakwood desk and all but suffocated him under an avalanche of directors, bankers, organization men, computer programmers and shareholders. The growing power of the labor unions and the growing security of the white-collar classes have helped make the big white house on the hill a seldom-regretted museum relic. The few really big fortunes that have survived the change belong to promoters, to experts in the merger, the proxy fight and the takeover, or to the older sons of older sons.
K. C. IRVING Part two
But from his big white house on the hill in Saint John, New Brunswick, K. C. Irving has managed to acquire, defend and constantly enlarge a seigniory whose value is generally estimated at something like four hundred million dollars. Its parts are highly varied. They include an oil refinery, some two million acres of timber lands, two pulp mills, four sawmills, a fleet of ocean - going tankers and another fleet of tugboats, three bus lines, a steel-fabricating plant, a shipyard, a drydock, a chain of hardware stores, two thousand gas stations, one major and several minor construction firms, four newspapers, one television station and one radio station. Irving is in instant, fingertip control of everything. He runs all but the newspapers and broadcasting stations himself, or runs so close and relentlessly behind the men who run them for him that it amounts to the same thing. In this respect, as in most others, he is not even a distant relation to the twentieth - century entrepreneur or to the Harvard Business School executive with his sacred first commandment: “Hire good men and give them their heads.” Irving is not interested in being a boardroom genius and the only place he was ever known to give any man, however good, his head was tucked under his arm, accompanied by a one-way plane ticket back to Chicago. He regards himself as a builder and, just as fiercely, as an owner. Although he finds it hard to avoid looking over the shoulders of his thirteen thousand employees he does not like to have anyone looking over his; since the early days of Irving Oil Ltd., his corporate flagship, he has permitted no public stock offerings in any of his companies, thus protecting his freedom to make instant and unilateral decisions, to explain only when and what he chooses to explain, to consult whom he desires to consult, to do those things and only those things which he deems it wise to do, to please those he wishes to please, to offend those to whom he means offense — in short, to conduct his affairs with the proud and sometimes ruthless independence, of the last of a breed of kings.
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While the wealth of his province was dying, Irving built an empire
To be sure, before embarking on the last hundred million dollars or so of his perpetual expansion program, Irving allowed his sovereign power to be slightly diluted by entering partnerships with a selected number of his approximate peers. One of these is a major subsidiary of Société Générale de Belgique, a world-embracing financial colossus that has been called “less a company than a way of life.” Another is Standard Oil of California, a third is Kimberly-Clark, the manufacturer of Kleenex and other tissue products, and a fourth is the immensely wealthy investment and development corporation that administers the estate of the late Bolivian tin magnate, Simon Patino. But in all but one of his known co-ownership arrangements, Irving has arranged to be the largest owner and in that one he is the most influential member of an inner group of four. His status with the banks — on which even a K. C. Irving has to draw for development capital from time to time — is, of course, his own secret. But the fact that in a time of relatively tight money his enterprises have continued to proliferate and spread would appear to confirm the general impression that the banks regard Irving warmly.
A phenomenon that can’t be explained
Unlike such natural New Brunswick phenomena as the Reversing Falls, where the St. John River changes course twice each day and flows upstream, and the Magnetic Hill at Moncton, where a stalled automobile appears to coast uphill, the mysteries of K. C. Irving cannot be explained by a quick glance at the guidebook. At a second glance, they become more baffling; in New Brunswick, as in the outer ramparts of his empire, in the three other Maritime provinces and on the Gaspé coast of Quebec, Irving is an even greater anachronism than he seems from farther off. The tradition and, in turn, the hope of wealth began dying all along the eastern seaboard soon after Confederation. An even moderately rich man — much less a colossally rich one — simply does not fit into the self-image of modern New Brunswick, unless, like Irving's good friend Lord Beaverbrook, the tycoon returns to the scenes of his childhood bearing treasures found abroad.
Irving has done little to satisfy the widespread curiosity about his formula for defying the norms of life in the Maritimes. His corporations are not only closed but extremely close-mouthed. He employs no public-relations men or official or unofficial spokesmen, and even his company presidents and plant managers seldom say anything in public without Irving's specific authorization. He himself has made only two major speeches in his life. In the civic, cultural, and, to an only slightly lesser degree, the social affairs of Saint John, Irving, his three sons who are heirs-apparent, and his other senior executives — a number of the highest - paid of whom have been imported from the United States, Germany and Sweden — are notorious non-joiners and non-mixers. Deprived of family and company gossip, but driven to solve the Irving “riddle” somehow, many of Irving's neighbors are forced to fall back on the doubtful devices of amateur psychoanalysis.
One of them, a man who has known the subject fairly well — which is about as well as anyone knows Irving — for more than twenty-five years, believes his essential drive is a towering inferiority complex. Irving can and sometimes does give the impression of being a shy man; this in spite of the fact that his physical appearance (granitic head, bald, square-jawed and steely eyed; athlete's body, lean, wide-shouldered and six feet tall) exudes confidence.
Other part-time and would-be students of what really occurs inside K. C. Irving flounder from one stock theory to another: even though he doesn’t enjoy spending it, he has a deep craving to make more money; he is caught in the spell of his own power; he has a tiger by the tail and couldn't let go even if he wanted to; he is truly and sincerely, as he has often sought to intimate himself and as his far from inconsiderable body of admirers continually claim on his behalf, dedicated to the task of developing the resources of New Brunswick and improving the lot of its people. One long-standing acquaintance offers an hypothesis that is not necessarily inconsistent with the others. Forty years ago, Canada’s largest oil company forced him to go into business for himself by cancelling his dealer's franchise. “Ever since then K.C'.’s been showing those s.o.b.’s at Imperial.”
There arc at least three aspects of K. C. Irving that offer visible clues to his success. One is his capacity and apparently unlimited appetite for work. Another is his remarkable memory and power of concentration. A third, and without doubt the most important, is his simple, unswerving, unapologctic, uncomplicated core of toughness.
The first of these qualities, his personal industry, is not easily measured. His working day coincides, as closely as he can arrange it, with his waking
day. Such frills as eating, shaving, reading the newspapers and now and then looking at television inevitably chew into the seventeen or eighteen hours available to him between getting up and going to bed. But with the help of a radio network that connects both his home and his office with most of his cars, ships and planes and his plants, mills, logging camps and warehouses, he is able to keep his lost time to a minimum. When he is not actually out looking at his enterprises for himself, he is constantly on the network, asking questions, asking for reports, making “suggestions” — very occasionally, if the time or his temper is growing short, going so far as to issue an outright order. Far from easing up on himself with the years, he has borne down a little harder. At one time, for instance, he and his wife used to see “just about every movie that came to Saint John.” Now he never attends a motion picture. FI is greatest incidental pleasure once was fishing for salmon on his private waters on the Restigouche. Yet, although he spent three hundred thousand dollars only two years ago to outbid the rival Fraser companies for a ten-year lease on one of the river's choicest stretches, he has scarcely wet a line in it himself. When he takes his family or guests to the main lodge for a weekend he leaves the fishing to them and disappears to his tree nursery at Juniper to help with the experiments that, if they work, will produce better trees and better forests approximately forty years from now. When I asked him whether he had ever thought of retiring he said carefully: “Well of course everyone figures he must get out gradually. But one advantage of having a small (sic) organization is that you don’t have such rigid rules about retirement and such things.”
Irving's memory for detail is no less renowned than his zeal for his job. or jobs. Once I was going through his twin pulp mills with Massey Ward, the manager, who is from Alabama. The Irving pulp mills arc. like their proprietor, a remarkable and bewildering compromise between two ages. About half their equipment is a sputtering, wheezing labyrinth of conventional machines and gadgets that, to the layman’s eye, might have sprung direct from a Rube Goldberg cartoon. The rest is a silent, spotless and vaguely sinister array of knobs and dials — the advance agents of automation. It seemed doubtful enough that any man, without devoting most of his life to it, could ever learn all the quirks and proceedings of this miraculous hybrid but the mill manager assured me in all solemnity that Irving knows every nut and holt. For emphasis he pointed to one of several relatively insignificant gadgets, a pyramid - shaped scrubber. “Suppose Mr. Irving was in here three weeks ago. Suppose that thing wasn't working right. Suppose he asked me what 1 was going to do about it and 1 told him. Suppose he was hack here with us now. He'd stop right here and play back our whole previous conversation — including, if my memory on it had slipped, the date and time — and then he'd ask me to play back the story of the repair job, including the cost to the nearest few dollars and a judgment on how satisfactory it had been and how long the scrubber still had to live. 1 wouldn't have the feeling that he was pushing me, mind you, just the feeling that he was a man who was on top of his business and couldn't stand to he anywhere else.'' Irving has had no formal engineering training but I heard similar testimonials to his memory and his instinctive sense of machines at the refinery, the shipyard and at one of his streamlined sawmills in the northwest woods. It was in the Fredericton office of Premier Louis Robichaud that 1 heard the most impressive tribute of all. “Memory? Well, I've sometimes had to drive around the country with him in the course of government business. He’s got — how many? fifteen hundred? sixteen hundred? — filling stations in New Brunswick. Pass any of them and he can tell you how many gallons it sold last month.” The premier was speaking figuratively of course, I suggested. “No. no. I’m speaking literally. 1 mean just that. He can tell you how many gallons the station sold last month.”
How one union misjudged Irving
Many men have combined outstanding industry with outstanding memories and ended up as third-rate bookkeepers. Of the X factors in K. C. Irving, it is doubtful that even he could locate and define them all, but one set is firmly engraved in the public records. He can be very stubborn and very tough.
His combative talents, curiously enough, were barely needed during the highly publicized six-month strike at the Irving Oil Refinery which ended in March in an almost complete victory for the company and a humiliating and costly defeat for the union. The Oil. Chemical and Atomic Workers International made almost every mistake — strategic, tactical and psychological — that it w'as possible to make and Irving, a hard man to beat in his home arena even when the opponent is going his best, was in full and easy command from start to finish.
The union leaders, spurred on by organizers from outside the province, made their first mistake when they assumed the general public, and other New' Brunswick unions, would rally whole-heartedly and even militantly behind their strike for what they termed “industry wages.” In this they misread both the temper and the history of the province. Regrettable though it is, it’s a fact that labor in New Brunswick and the Maritimes generally does not get and — most Maritimcrs concede glumly — cannot realistically expect to get wages equal to the national averages. (The weekly figures that the provincial department of labor gave me last winter were: national $84.67; New Brunswick $68.26.) It’s a fact, too, that there are always considerably more job-seekers than jobs; unemployment here always runs ahead of unemployment in the rest of Canada. It’s another fact, also well-known to every schoolboy since the days of Tupper and Tilley, that the Maritimes employer has his own special economic cross to bear. Most people who have grown up amid these sad truths accept at least in part the basic argument in support of K. C. Irving: if he paid full “industry” wage rates at the refinery and extended the precedent to his other operations, he'd run the risk of being driven out of business, thus adding another thirteen thousand to the ranks of the unemployed. When the union struck last September, it demanded the full seventy-five cents an hour needed to achieve parity with refinery wages elsewhere in Canada. Irving offered seven cents to head operators and fifteen cents to all other workers and agreed to grant raises up to the full industry scale on a graduated system based on merit.
The union’s main strategic error became apparent almost at once. Of all the Irving plants and mills and factories, the refinery is by far the least vulnerable to labor trouble. Completed less than four years ago at a cost of fifty million dollars, designed and managed by experts from Standard of California, it is as close to being fully automated as any petroleum-products refinery in the world. When the 145 union members walked out, Irving's manager, William Forsythe, simply instructed a battery of clerks and bookkeepers to close up their desks and start watching the knobs and dials. They proved so good at it that the plant went right on producing at full capacity, as it was to do for the entire six months of the strike.
Back in September, however, the union still felt it had powerful weapons. Irving promptly and effectively defused one of them by getting an injunction forbidding secondary picketing of his oil stations and his other firms. Then, undismayed by the fact that the union had hired the mayor of Saint John, Eric Teed, to serve as its counsel, he asked for and received a series of court orders banning mass picketing at the refinery itself. As the strike entered its second month, public interest, far from mounting, had begun to subside. The city as a whole had suffered no inconvenience of any kind; the only demonstrable effect was that Irving, the man the union was out to bring to his knees, was saving more than ten thousand dollars a week on payroll costs.
On a cold November night the union staged an outdoor rally and hanged and burned Irving in effigy, along with the provincial minister of labor, K. J. Webber. This, as it turned out, was another psychological mistake; there is little affection in Saint John for K. C. Irving, but after more than three decades of trial, conflict and other strains too subtle for a stranger to understand, the city does accord him its respect. The suspicion that the bonfire had been engineered or at least prompted by the organizers from outside did nothing to enlist fresh moral support for the union.
In January Claude Jodoin. president of the Canadian Labor Congress, came to Saint John and addressed a rally in support of the strikers. But his speech was in reality a mortal blow to the union's wistful hope of sympathy strikes at Irving's other establishments. Jodoin's most important remark was that he did not consider a general work stoppage necessary “at this time.”
A week later, with his adversary reeling, Irving went to the attack. In a talk full of the stern spare righteousness of an Old Testament prophet summoning a judgment, he appeared on his own radio station — the first and only time he has done so — gave Jodoin himself a tactful blessing, and then called on him to “call the national and international officers of the . . . union to account.”
He compared the officers of the Oil Workers, unfavorably, to the notorious Hal Banks of the Seaman's International Union, accused them of making “destructive threats in regard to my personal future” and of acts of violence against his employees and property in Quebec. And he reminded Jodoin that to date the strikers had “succeeded only in keeping 145 men from drawing good weekly paycheques.”
All this, of course, was nothing more than the normal infighting of a fairly conventional contest between management and labor — and so it would have remained except for one brief flick of Irving's still unused Sunday punch.
"The operating record (of the refinery),” he said, “discloses that prior to the strike 46,700 man hours per month were required for its operation.
“The same job is being done today with 22,500 man hours per month.
“The refinery is being operated better than ever before and is producing the finest of products.
“. . . it would be good economics for the company to replace the 145 employees now on strike with seventyfive fully experienced people.
“If we were to adopt this plan, we would be ignoring one of the reasons which prompted me to locate the refinery in Saint John — which was to employ local people.
"If the strikers want work it is there for them.”
The union's reaction to this reminder of the facts of automation and to four months of attrition in the homes of the striking workers was to seek a compromise. It was willing, it soon announced, to accept the wage adjustments offered originally by Irving. But on Irving’s offer to raise all workers to the maximum wage as fast as they qualified, the union demanded more than a letter of intent. It insisted on a legal clause in the legal contract. Furthermore if there was any doubt whether a given worker had qualified to move to the maximum scale through the long ladder of sub-qualifications (it could take five moves and five years) the union insisted the decision should not be left solely to Irving and his managers. There should be a grievance committee consisting of a company nominee, a union nominee and someone from outside. If Irving denied a merit promotion to any worker who had earned it, then the worker and the union, if it chose to take up his case, should have “the right to grieve.”
Irving’s reply, couched more formally, was that, come Hell or high water, grievance or no grievance, he and the men he chose to run his plant and he and they alone would decide who had earned a raise. (He is not. he insists, opposed to unions as such. “When they are well - led they are excellent tor labor and management both . . . The day is long past when a union membership card should be considered a substitute for ability, experience, interest, integrity and the desire to do a good job.”)
It was a cold winter in Saint John and even the legally allowed two-man picket teams were absent from the road outside the refinery as often as they were there. So far as a visitor could assess it, the mood of the city toward the strikers was less of sympathy than of pity. “They should never have struck K. C. Irving unless they were ready for him . . . This whole province has had the right to grieve since my grandfather. Why miss supper for it?” In March the union settled for virtually everything Irving had offered in September. His wages were accepted to the penny and there was to be a right of arbitration on grievances only in the case of discrimination, a face-saving word that neither side of the two elaborated on.
Irving met a much more competent, well-heeled and sophisticated opponent in his recent battle with the Rothesay Paper Company. In the late 1950s a group of foreign and domestic corporations proposed to build and operate, in Saint John, the first new paper mill that had been built in Canada in more than thirty years. The chief owner of this new competitor for Irving was to be — and still is — Sogemines Limited, an offshoot of the immensely wealthy Société Générale of Belgium.
New industries coming into New Brunswick, as they do anywhere, demand and get concessions — land concessions, special rates on water, light and power, expropriation rights and Hat-rate tax assessments. Before K. C. Irving’s time the International Paper Company extracted a contract from the town of Dalhousie which not only gave the company a substantial part of the town “in fee simple” — that is, to keep — but fixed its tax assessment for the next thirty years at four hundred thousand dollars. When the agreement ran out, the assessment went from four hundred thousand dollars to five million four hundred thousand dollars. The town of Edmundston once had to go all the way to the privy council in England, to collect school taxes from the Fraser companies. In 1914 the old Saint John firm of T. McAvity and Sons was given a fixed assessment, for forty years, of two thousand dollars on an investment of $125,000.
It was against this background that the Rothesay Paper Company was granted an option to buy, for one dollar, ninety-nine acres of public land on Courtenay Bay, an inlet of the Bay of Fundy. From then on the manœuvres of the corporations and the governments took on the queerly desperate flavor of a Peter Sellers movie. Irving himself went before a legislative committee to object to a proposal that Rothesay be given a legal shield like the one that, by act of the legislature, arbitrarily protects Irving’s own woods and mining operations from lawsuits that might be brought against them “for nuisance,” like water pollution or blocking roads.
As it turned out, the delay was unnecessary. Rothesay’s building plans were postponed by the mechanics of financing and of estimating and reestimating the world paper market. In November 1960, five months after the Liberals had succeeded the Conservatives as New Brunswick's governing majority, the province announced that it had cancelled Rothesay’s option on the ninety-nine acres and given them to K. C. Irving. Irving, it was explained, needed the land to expand his drydock and shipyard, an enterprise of more value to the community than the Rothesay blueprints.
The legislative opposition did not object to Irving’s acquisition of the land. But it did demand some quid pro quo for the Rothesay Company. Just across the road from the ninetynine acres that had been diverted from the Belgians there was another tract of 110 acres. No one knew for sure who owned them. The land was last held, a special act of the legislature proclaimed, by a certain James Simonds and Richard Simonds and James White, but that was away back on October 2, 1765; their heirs had disappeared and it was no use looking for them. (“Virtually impossible and impractible to establish the existence and whereabouts of said successory,” the act said.)
Irving mounted a strong lobby against the enabling legislation for the Rothesay grant. When the bill passed over his objections — the only major defeat he has ever sustained in his dealings with the province — he announced that he was suing the provincial power commission for a million and a half dollars for putting pipelines through the land the province had given him for nothing. The province, nervously, proposed to settle for twenty-five thousand but so far Irving has neither accepted the offer nor rejected it. ("He is the most litigious man in the world,” one of his lawyers remarked not long ago. "Normally a lawyer tries to get his client out of court but Irving wants to fight everything through to the finish. Once he had a real difficult case and he was advised to settle. ‘I don't believe I asked you for a verdict,’ he said to his lawyer. ‘I was inquiring if you’d care to represent me.’ He went to the supreme court and won.”) If there are any hard feelings left between Irving and Rothesay they are well concealed. On a straight contract basis Irving has sold the paper company half a million dollars' worth of work and material.
One of Irving's most remarkable shows of strength occurred in December 1961, when a committee of the legislature was considering a government loan to the East Coast Smelting and Chemical Co. Limited. For nearly ten years a great discovery body of base metals had lain dormant. But then Irving bought into it, and things began to happen.
The province agreed to lend East Coast twenty million dollars to build its smelter but there was a great deal of confusion about what Irving and his partners were offering as security. There was, up to then, fifty-one million dollars invested in the mine and this, the Conservative opposition thought, and the Liberal premier thought also, was to be the guarantee for the province’s twenty million.
During the committee hearing Irving and one of his new partners, Jim Boylen. consulted one of their lawyers and the lawyer intervened to explain that the security they were offering was not their own fifty-one million but the twenty million the province was lending them anyway.
"Now,” the leader of the opposition recalled, “my colleague then asked the honorable the premier if this was his understanding and the premier replied: ‘It wasn’t but it is now.’
“I am sure,” C. B. Sherwood, the leader of the opposition said, “all hon. members will immediately appreciate the significance of these last words of the premier. Those of us in the legislature find ourselves in a very peculiar situation.”
Hon. Mr. Robichaud: "Yes, you are in a distasteful situation right now.”
Mr. Stairs: "Order, Mr. Chairman, let the leader speak.”
Mr. Chairman: "Order, please!”
Mr. Sherwood: "Regardless of any errors of judgment, there is the fact that the premier of our province made a commi.ment. New Brunswickers arc people who believe in honoring a commitment. It therefore becomes difficult to vote against this bill in view of the commitment having been made."
Hon. Mr. Robichaud: "Vote against it. Vote against it if you dare!"
Mr. Chairman: "Order, please!”
Mr. Stairs: "Order! Shut the little man up!”
Mr. Sherwood: "Perhaps he is going to take off again this evening."
Hon. Mr. Robichaud: “Yes, I sure will! I sure will!"
Mr. Chalmers: “Another chimpanzee.”
Mr. Sherwood: “As for my colleague, the financial critic, and myself, we believe it has been our solemn duty to bring these facts before all members of this legislature in order that the records of the house will properly record the pertinent statements which had previously been made before a public hearing of the corporation committee.
"The opposition has no quarrel with a policy of guaranteed loans to industry. so long as the guaranteed loans are properly secured and the interest of every man. woman and child in the province of New Brunswick properly protected — it was a part of the policy of the previous government.
"This bill has been the subject of controversy concerning the principle of giving private corporations freedom from responsibility for damages, should they arise.
"In this respect. 1 welcome, and I say this sincerely. Mr. Chairman, I welcome and look forward to appropriate legislation from the government at an early date to eliminate clauses in legislation dealing with this particularly contentious point.
"Mr. Chairman, what 1 have just said should not be interpreted as casting any reflection upon the intentions of the bill's sponsors to develop a mining complex of a most beneficial nature in the economic future of New Brunswick.
“We in the opposition support the general principles of the legislation, as indeed we supported legislation of a similar type as a government for eight years, because we were vitally interested in the welfare of our province and the creation of jobs for our people.
“Under the previous administration, the mining interests received support
and stimulation to the objective of full development of our resources. In this respect, we built roads, provided adequate electric power and created a favorable climate for industrial enterprise. So it is with satisfaction we see this bill before the house today.” Hon. Mr. Robichaud: “Mr. Chairman, I would say this, that in my estimation and, 1 believe, in the estimation of most of the people — not only the members but most of the people — who have just heard the leader
of the opposition, he is getting littler and littler.”
Mr. McCain: “There he is again in orbit!”
Hon. Mr. Robichaud: “I don’t say smaller and smaller, but littler and littler.”
Mr. Stairs: “Who's talking, who’s talking!”
Mr. Chalmers: “He should be down to your size!”
Mr. Chairman: “Order, order!”
Hon. Mr. Robichaud: "The leader
of the opposition has referred to a mistake that 1 have made. I admit I have made a mistake.”
The smelter bill was passed unanimously.
Irving or his supporters frequently get the last word in New Brunswick. Curiously enough, considering his close control of the agencies of communication, it is not always the only word. Two years ago Irving accused his old foe, Imperial Oil, of using the devaluation of the Canadian dollar as an excuse to increase its price of western-Canadian crude. “When the foreign - controlled companies are through with their battle, some of us Canadians hope we will still be here,” he said. Imperial replied, and was duly quoted in the Irving press, that “Mr. Irving is unaffected by an increase in the price of Canadian crude oil because he imports his crude through an international oil company which owns an unrevealed but substantial interest in his oil operations.”
At the height of the refinery strike last winter, John Simonds, regional vice-president of the Canadian Labor Congress, accused Irving’s two papers and his television and radio stations of “censoring” the news. I spent most of a week in the library of the Evening Times-Globe and the morning Telegraph-Journal checking the papers' own assessment of their coverage of the strike: “These newspapers have published seventy-five reports ... reported every public event.” It was a fair claim. Irving’s midwinter declaration of war got more space than any other story. With that one exception, the papers’ news columns gave labor at least as much coverage as it gave management.
Sometimes, in fact, the Irving papers lean over backward. At the height of the strike, the evening paper one day published its usual four editorials. One demanded that the CBC revoke its decision to remove Ed Sullivan from the air. Another demanded that Canada begin, at once, recruiting and training its hockey team for the next Olympics. A third spoke approvingly of the long-awaited decision to build a tunnel under the English Channel. The fourth came out in favor of the flowers of spring.
In the next issue: a third and concluding report on K. C. Irving.