Sunday, 4 November 2007

Forum: Matthew Fisher

An e-mail to TSF from Matthew Fisher, son of Douglas Fisher (see photo):

"A surprising omission from this list of Day Oners is Douglas Fisher, who may have written more copy for the Sun than any other writer.

Mr. Creighton recruited Doug as the lead political columnist after his 10-year old column with the Tely ended when it folded.

Despite many offers to join the Globe and the Star, Doug remained a fixture on the Sun's editorial pages from 1971 to 2006, writing more than 5,000 columns for the chain before retiring two weeks shy of his 87th birthday.

Now in his 89th year and living just outside Ottawa, he remains an avid reader and keen follower of politics. He is working on his memoirs as a soldier, librarian, teacher, Member of Parliament, television host, journalist and Hockey Canada co-founder.

Perhaps his name was forgotten because although he worked for the Sun, he never worked for the Sun in Toronto, having always been the newspaper's voice on Parliament Hill.

This squib has been contributed by his son, Matthew, who also was a columnist for the Sun for 10 years."

Thank you for your e-mail, Matthew. We certainly haven't forgotten your father, but you raise a 36-year-old Toronto Sun puzzle. What constitutes a Day Oner?

The "official" count of Toronto Sun Day Oners is elusive, but in all of the lists and counts (62, 64, 68 and 69) we have seen there are omissions. They include op-ed writers Doug Fisher and Lubor J. Zink, two Tely staffers who didn't hesitate when asked to write for the Sun.

You would think every man and woman on the payroll Nov. 1, 1971, would be recognized as a Day Oner, but the most quoted figure these days is 62 and that does not include a few correspondents.

If there is an accurate Day One payroll document, it is probably under lock and key because of the very generous stock gift in the early 1980s. Every Day Oner received 1,200 free Sun shares, a handsome - and well-deserved - bonus. But there were rumours of discontent. Some people thought they should have been on that list.

The question is, did Fisher and Zink receive 1,200 free shares as Day Oners, or did the fine print exclude bureau correspondents? If excluded, why? What constitutes a Day Oner - only the bodies who were working at the Toronto Sun 35 hours a week?

So, Matthew, your father does, indeed, appear in the first Toronto Sun on Nov. 1, 1971. His Page 7 op-ed column is about Robert Stanfield and his concern for the future of the Ottawa Tely men and for his own future as PC leader.

Doug wrote:

"Last week, Robert Stanfield had the Tely men who covered Ottawa in for lunch. It was not a wake. The invitation came out of the conservative leader's nicest personal quality, a sensitivity to the individual problems of others.

"The luncheon conversation didn't rest long with the Telegram's closing and in regrets. Mr. Stanfield got a sketch of each man's destination: Peter Thomson to the Montreal Star; Peter Ward to freelancing in Ottawa; Rick Mackie to the Montreal Express; Brian Upton to a federal post with CIDA and Lubor Zink and myself to the Sun. All of us then, carrying on in Ottawa."

The column ends:

"Mr. Stanfield as Prime Minister is a credible thought."

Two seats kept Stanfield from doing just that in the 1972 federal election.

We look forward to reading Doug Fisher's memoirs.

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