“If there has been a frustration in my career,” reflects political journalist Tim Creery, “It has been trying to write about policy.” At 48, Creery has been a correspondent in Quebec City, Ottawa, Washington and Paris, and until March was editorial page editor of the Montreal Gazette. Sitting at a desk covered with proofs for a new Canadian magazine, Creery continues: “We write about fights during Question Period, we write about clashes of personality, the tactics of politics, the tricks and the manoeuvres—yet we’ve tended to put aside policy as airy-fairy stuff for academics.” The surge of English-Canadian reaction to the victory of the Parti Québécois in Quebec has convinced Creery that the country finally is ready for something it has never before been able to support: a public affairs review.
In fact, so strong is his conviction that Creery has given us one. Appearing on newsstands early in November is a 48-page one-dollar monthly public affairs review edited by Creery. Its title: Report On Confederation.With former university administrator John Pepperell as general manager, Report has been registered as a charitable organization, thus making donations tax deductible. Squeaky-clean
funding rules restrict contributions to $1,000 or less.
The first issue (with a press run of 17,000) is impressive. Following a cover by political cartoonist Aislin are articles by the cream of Canada’s senior political journalists, including former Toronto Star Ottawa bureau chief Anthony Westell, former Montreal Star Quebec editor Dominique Clift and independence-leaning Le Jour editor Evelyn Dumas. It is all solid, serious, reasoned, reasonable material. It is well written and readable. The Globe and Mail's Norman Webster writes a fine piece on the history of the Ontario-Quebec axis and Dominique Clift reviews the impact of the Parti Québécois’ first year in office.
The question is whether Creery is right and Canadians are indeed prepared to support a magazine that relies heavily on an in-depth essay style of journalism. Report's heavy title may discourage readers, and its goal of balanced analysis may deprive it of the often partisan ideological punch of, say, Britain’s New Statesman. Perhaps the greatest danger—concentration on the question of Quebec—is something the founders insist is not a problem. “Interest in public affairs has never been so great,” says Pepperell, “and if there is ever going to be a public affairs review in this country, now is the time.” GRAHAM FRASER
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