Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Downing's view

Why did the right-leaning Toronto Sun support Liberal Gerry Phillips over Conservative Jim Brown, a Sun business office Day Oner, in the 1999 provincial election?

John Downing, a Day Oner and former editor, tells TSF:

"There was no great conspiracy involved in the Sun backing Liberal Gerry Phillips over Conservative Jim Brown. It was actually due to the honourable Sun tradition that began right at the start.

"I was involved with the slate editorials from the beginning, and even though I stepped aside as Editor in 1997, I may have still been offering advice when this decision was made. I certainly think it was the right one.

"Jim Brown wasn't just one of the 62 Day Oners, he was considered a key employee and was one of the nine given a special stock deal better than everyone else. But he left early after he was part of a rebellion. That left a bad taste with other Day Oners like Creighton, Worthington, Downing etc.

"He made a fortune and left without doing all the hard work through the 1970s. He did stay in contact with some staffers, but when he started being a political candidate, he acted as if he had a relationship with all of us and should get special consideration. There was no staffer who thought that.

"The bosses, led by Creighton and Worthington, always thought that the Sun political recommendations would have more credibility if we just didn't back conservative/Conservative candidates. Most of our slate choices were Tories, but there were always Grits and socialists.

"I once supported a Communist, and even Worthington agreed that Oscar Kogan, one of the leaders of the party in Canada, was the best choice for trustee in the borough of York. (Kogan told me later he spent considerable time telling voters to vote for him but to ignore everything else the Sun said.)

"I supported Liberal Elinor Caplan over Tory Paul Sutherland, who was merely Paul Godfrey's favourite (and maybe even his godson). Lorrie Goldstein had to weather the storm that Sunday because Godfrey couldn't find me at the cottage to give me shit. When he did find me, I pointed out that Caplan also was a close friend of his family.

"Gerry Phillips was, and is, a Liberal that the Sun likes. He had been chair of the Metro school board, he was active in kids' hockey in Scarboro, and he was sensible. Gerry introduced me to Dalton McGuinty at a party and Dalton stalked off when I told him I thought Gerry would make a better premier.

"So of course the Sun would support Phillips over Brown because we liked Phillips and didn't like Brown, who got more money out of the Sun than 56 Day Oners. And then he left.


And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.

Thanks again, John.

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