Wednesday 31 January 2007

Fave Flashback '75

In the spring of 1975, Toronto Sun staffers eagerly began packing for the move from the Eclipse Building at 322 King Street West to their spiffy new digs at 333 King Street East.

It had the feeling of a move from a basement apartment to a penthouse suite, or, as phrased in Ron Poulton's 1976 book Life In A Word Factory, from Cabbagetown to Rosedale.

The creaky, four-storey building on the northeast corner of King and John Streets, across from Farb's Car Wash, was a measuring stick. It helped measure the phenomenal growth of the upstart tabloid from Day One (Nov. 1, 1971) through May of 1975.

Toronto Sun pioneers made do with what they could afford in 1971 and settled in for 43 months of publishing a tabloid in a factory setting with award-winning flare.

The newsroom was unique, with numerous steel pillars and support beams, large air ducts overhead, finicky electrical outlets, a condemned elevator, well-aged Underwood typewriters etc.

If that wasn't enough of a challenge, the tabloid was being printed on presses at Inland Publishing in Mississauga, a 20-mile trek from the Eclipse Building.

But ask Sun staffers who worked in the Eclipse Building and most will say they wouldn't have had it any other way.

This privately-owned newspaper was their love child and they were willing to work 20-hour days in an unglorified environment if needed to see it grow.

This blogger worked in the Eclipse Building for only four months before the move, but considers himself fortunate to have shared that unique workplace experience.

Construction of the new three-storey Sun complex began in 1974 and in the month or two before the move, staffers were given escorted tours of their new home.

The new Sun building, with its high-speed presses, executive offices, professional darkroom and its own cafeteria, emitted such a sweet smell of success. We were eager to take up residence.

On the night before the move, night editor John McLean, darkroom manager Wasyl Kowalishen and yours truly sat around the rim playing poker after the last edition had been put to bed. We were surrounded by packing cases and clutter.

We had played poker around the rim after hours on occasion and thought it only fitting to say goodbye to the Eclipse Building with a final game.

Norm Betts, a Day Oner photographer, had some last-minute darkroom packing to do and when finished, snapped a photo of the poker players (later used in Life In A Word Factory.)

While McLean and yours truly often played poker, Wasyl's wife didn't think much of him gambling and the photo in the book apparently put Wasyl in the doghouse.

We said our goodbyes to the Eclipse Building, not knowing many of us would return in November of 1992 for a bittersweet 64th birthday party for ousted CEO Doug Creighton.

(During Doug's birthday party, an announcement was made that a small plaque recognizing the Eclipse Building as the first home of the Toronto Sun would be installed. Looked for a plaque on several visits over the years, without success.)

Meanwhile, back at 333 King Street East . . .

Connie Woodcock was the first reporter to sit down in the sparsely-furnished newsroom to type a story. This blogger's report of Burlington's missing four-year-old Cameron March was the first front page story off the new presses. (Cameron was never found, no arrests were made. It is a cold case that has haunted me for three decades.)

It would be a couple of months before "The Toronto Sun" lettering was added to the King Street entrance. The transition accomplished, with few complications, it was onwards and upwards for the Miracle on King Street for the next two decades.

Word is 333 King Street East might be sold off by Quebecor once its new Islington printing plant is completed and staff numbers shrink once again.

Maybe it could be purchased and used for another upstart, privately-owned Toronto tabloid capable of beating the media odds once again.

Until then, the miracle that was can still be measured by taking a drive past the Eclipse Building and then 333 King Street East.

Those were giddy days, indeed.

Tuesday 30 January 2007

Sandy Naiman exits

Four brief lines in Monday's Toronto Sun capped 30 years of Sandy Naiman's award-winning presence in the Sun she loved.

"This is Sandy Naiman's last story for the Toronto Sun and you can now reach her at"

Reach her we did to wish her well in her post-Sun freelance writing endeavors and to ask her how it all began in 1977.

When we talk about the "heart" of the Sun and "Sun family," Sandy's story, more than most others, says it all. She taught colleagues volumes about bipolar disorders
and the lifetime battles people with mental illnesses endure because for Sandy, it was a first-person story.

When she was hired in 1977, management knew about her mental illness, but most staffers didn't. That took a couple of volatile episodes in the newsroom. Sandy says she knew she had found a caring workplace when her bosses and colleagues stood by her.

Says Sandy:

"I started at the Sun as a freelancer in entertainment. Kathy Brooks hired me, with George Anthony's blessing, on a recommendation by (Ryerson's) J.D. MacFarlane, who knew I had a serious mental illness, but the Sun decided to give me a chance.

"I was approached and invited to apply for that freelance entertainment job as at the time, I was editing the Royal Alexandra's Centre Stage magazine, published by Ed Mirvish. When Mirvish heard I had a freelance assignment with the Sun to review Tom Jones at the O'Keefe, he gave me an ultimatum: "Them," as in the Toronto Sun," or me, "As in Ed Mirvish, et al." He saw it as a conflict of interest.

"The Sun was paying $25 for the review. Mirvish was paying $100 a week, with no benefits for the editing job. I took the Sun. My dad wanted to disown me, but I saw it as an opportunity. My first Sun appearance was my Tom Jones review, which ran on June 24, 1977. Then I started hanging out around Ms. Brooks, who was editing both Entertainment and Lifestyle, and George Anthony, writing all kinds of other entertainment stuff.

"That's how I got The Exhibitionists column, which ran daily. I interviewed
Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy, Neil Sedaka, Burton Cummings and all kinds of stars at the CNE Grandstand that summer. I also submitted a Lifestyle proposal for a series of six profiles of older, ethnic women who could reflect and tell their stories about coming to and growing up in Toronto. That ran, too.

"I was hired officially into the Lifestyle section on September 6, 1977, as a feature writer, with
David Kendall, who taught me how to 'punch up' my copy."

Sandy had been working from home for several years when Editor-in-Chief Jim Jennings told her in March of 2006 he wanted her back in the newsroom fulltime.

"At first, I was a little surprised, but on April 17, I started. I was given Joe Warmington's old desk. He moved over to Bob MacDonald's desk. I sat beside Ian Robertson, who taught me how to write a news lead and became a sweet friend - we're both 58 - and young Brodie Fenlon, who I came to adore, like a son or younger brother.

"I was so happy to be working at 333 again, and I loved those first months before the June 20 layoff. Working at home had cushioned me from the carnage taking place down there by Quebecor, but being back, it didn't take long to see how the spirit of the place was being sucked out fast.

"At first, it took me hours to write a 40-line news story, but Jonathan Kingstone told me practice makes perfect, like playing the piano. I wasn't very good as a general assignment reporter, but I was a body. And I could write local news. Softer stuff, human interest, United Way, you know.The last 10 months were the toughest and most exciting of my career."

Three decades, and a number of Sun and public service awards later, Sandy decided to take a buyout to save the job of another Sun news staffer in the latest round of cutbacks.

Sandy covered a lot of bases in 30 years, including Sun stints as an entertainment writer, Lifestyle features writer, business writer, columnist, news assignments etc. Columns she wrote: News: People Who Make A Difference, 2006-2007; Showcase: Book Reviews, 2003-2006; Lifestyle: Choices, 1998-2000; Women's Health, 1991-1999; On My Own, 1986-1988; Women on the Move, 1980-2000; Entertainment: The Exhibitionists, interviews with all CNE Grandstand stars, 1977.

All the while, she was collecting numerous public service awards, appearing on radio and television programs, making public speaking engagements across North America on mental health issues as a
member of the Mental Health Works Speakers Bureau etc.

And thanking the Sun for its 1970's newsroom environment.

"By giving her a chance, Sandy says, MacFarlane, Anthony, Brooks and the workplace culture of the Sun helped to lay the groundwork for her future successes," says a Mental Health Works story on the web.

The Toronto Sun Family wishes Sandy an equally busy and successful post-Sun freelance career.

We are better people for having worked with you.

Monday 29 January 2007

Dennis Earl blog

Dennis Earl is a Hamilton blogger/writer with a keen interest in the ongoing carnage at the Toronto Sun. He makes a few good points in his most recent blog in picking up on the byline protest Friday and the wearing of black on Thursday to protest the most recent layoffs.

Dennis, crediting this blog for reporting on the protest, wonders how readers and other media would know about the protest without a press release or public statements.

"How many Friday readers noticed this, of course, is hard to know for sure," he says of the absence of bylines. "One wonders if any of them realized that it was a union protest."

A published photograph of Sun staff in black would have said it all, he says.

Dennis agrees with the Toronto Sun Family when it says the silence of Sun columnists in the ongoing battering of the tabloid they love is deafening.

Says Dennis: "Where are the angry columns from longtime pundits? Why no special comment from the editors? Where are those brave souls willing to spill their guts online? In other newspapers? On television? On the radio? They are nowhere to be found."

As we told Dennis, we are waiting for a very public "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" comment by a brave Sun columnist before more bodies are tagged by Quebecor for quiet exits into the night.

How many more parties for parting Sun colleagues will Betty's, the local unofficial but hospitable press club on King Street East, be hosting before the lights are turned off?

Stay tuned.

Sunday 28 January 2007

Rolf Rimstad & SONG

Brad Honywill, the Toronto Sun's former Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild unit chair, says in an e-mail another casualty of Quebecor's cutbacks was Rolf Rimstad.

We had heard the 30-year staffer, brother of the late Sun legend Paul Rimstead and writer Diane Rimstead, was fighting for his job, but his departure in June wasn't reported.

But then Sun Media has been negligent in reporting most of the resignations and layoffs in the past year. Numerous vets gone - and forgotten.

Rolf may be gone, but not forgotten by SONG. An arbiter's decision is pending. (See Brad's comments below.)

Rolf, who chose to use the original spelling of the Rimstad family name, never coasted on his brother's reputation, before or after Paul's death in 1987. He was a dedicated sports desk editor with little time for idle banter. He was a worker.

Good luck Rolf. As another victim of the cutbacks, you are in good company.

Meanwhile, Brad Honywill has updated us on Friday's byline protest, Thursday's wearing of black in the newsroom and SONG activities and accomplishments since its arrival in 2003.

Says Brad:

"The purpose of the byline strike was to protest the continuing downsizing of the newsroom by Quebecor and to honour those people who worked their last day on Thursday.

Twelve people were laid off on Thursday at the end of their eight-week notice period. Another four people took buyouts to save four jobs. We said good-bye to all of them at a party at Betty's on Thursday evening. Also to protest the downsizing, virtually all editorial staff wore black to work on Thursday.

We are now down to about 120 people in the newsroom, from 200 at the peak prior to Quebecor's purchase in 1998. Staff is horribly demoralized, both because of the loss of fellow workers and because of what most of us see as a mindless drive toward the destruction of the paper we love and helped to build.

SONG, or CEP Local 87-M, has taken a number of steps to combat the downsizings.

First, we launched the Save Our Sun campaign, encouraging members to wear t-shirts with the slogan to work and to display signs with a similar message.

Second, we initiated a common employer application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board which, if successful, will result in Ottawa, Toronto and London, plus the new "corporate" positions, all being in one bargaining unit and negotiating as a single team, just as the company negotiates as a single entity.

Third, we have been very successful in organizing new units, which increase the bargaining power of the Toronto Sun editorial unit, namely the editorial department at the Ottawa Sun, the pre-press department at the Toronto Sun and all departments at the London Free Press.

Fourth, we have grieved a number of actions that the company has taken which threaten the jobs of the people remaining at the Sun.

In addition to fighting the downsizing as much as we can through grievances and at the labour relations board, the contract negotiated by CEP Local 87-M on behalf of Sun members continues to work for them every day.

We didn't have a wage grid before and the company was systematically lowering wages. They can't do that now and you can bet, under the current drive for economies, they would be doing that.

The contract also prevents the company from getting rid of people just because they are more senior and, therefore, more costly, because layoffs have to take place in order of reverse seniority. In other words, last in, first out.

Some might question whether this is working, in light of the fact that the unit chair, Maryanna Lewyckyj, with 23 years at the Sun, has been laid off. But, as Maryanna often points out, she chose not to bump into a lower position, taking a severance package instead.

If there's ever any doubt that the company would go after senior employees - like they did in 2001 - then look at what happened with Rolf Rimstad, a sports copy editor with 30 years experience.

The company claims they eliminated his position - a "special" copy editor. We say he was fired without cause and we're willing to spend thousands of dollars at arbitration to preserve the principle of seniority at the Sun.

We've had several days before an arbitrator on this. We expect a decision soon.

The unit executive at the Sun is the main body responsible for initiating these actions in the workplace and the Local, or SONG, is there to support them in whatever way we can.

As the former unit chair at the Sun, this support is personally very important to me. I have no greater priority than supporting the Sun members in the face of this destructive attack on our jobs and our newspapers."

Thank you for your update, Brad.

Friday 26 January 2007

Missing bylines

Numerous bylines and photo credits were missing from Friday's Toronto Sun in a Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild protest over the latest job losses.

Bylines, and some photo credits, were absent throughout the paper, in news, sports and entertainment, replaced with "Toronto Sun Staff" and "Sun Photo."

Saturday update: Stan Behal, senior photographer and the newsroom's union membership secretary, says:

"It was a demonstration of support for our colleagues, whose last days working for the Sun were the end of this week, and a unanimous show of disaffection for a company who would slash content providers with little apparent concern for the quality of the product and then, in an apparent end-run around the contract, hire people for non-unionized national editorial positions.

"It is not a tone I think productive for future bargaining. Also, as a show of support for those leaving on Thursday, to almost a man and woman, reporters, photographers, and columnists wore black as a further demonstration of their support . . . "

Problem is, there were no words in the paper to explain the protest and SONG didn't explain the withdrawal of bylines and photo credits in a press release. (Not that we could find.)

How were readers to know Sun reporters and photographers were making a statement about Quebecor's cutbacks and layoffs? Maybe SONG left it to the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and National Post to pick up on the protest, which would be noticeable to anyone in the media.

More disturbing to the Toronto Sun Family was the absence in Friday's Sun of parting words about the dozen laid off staffers who made their exit this week.

Except for Bill Brioux's cryptic "Stand By Me" comments in his final column, there wasn't a peep from anyone in the paper about the layoff victims.

Not a word about the departures of Day Oner Sherry Johnston after 35 years and 22-year vet Maryanna Lewyckyj. Not a "thank you," not a "we'll miss you," not a "good luck" in print.

Toronto Sun columnists, male and female, used to have the balls - and the freedom - to comment on negative happenings at the Sun.

When Sun legend Hartley Steward quietly retired last year, without fanfare or a mention of his departure, it took veteran columnist Mark Bonokoski to right that wrong. Mark devoted an entire column to Hartley's contribution to the Sun over three decades.

Mark did it because he remembers the day when that was what the Sun was all about - caring and sharing. Where are the other columnists when it comes to speaking for colleagues they have worked with since the 1970's and 1980's?

Has the newsroom neutering by Quebecor completely silenced compassion and free speech?

Knowing former staffer Christie Blatchford, we have no doubt she would have devoted a column to parting colleagues, with a few choice words about Quebecor's methods.

Where is Christie's style of bravado among today's Sun columnists and commentators? MIA.

If an unexplained byline protest is the closest Sun staffers can get to expressing their feelings, freedom of speech at Sun Media is dead.

Job seekers

A dozen laid off Toronto Sun staffers, from Day Oner Sherry Johnston to popular TV critic Bill Brioux, have come to the end of the trail.

More than a few brews were hoisted last night at a sendoff party for the latest staffers to be shown the door at 333 King Street East.

Maryanna Lewyckyj, a 22-year employee who exits as assistant Money editor, was among those in a local bar trying to cope with the new reality of being unemployed.

Sherry Johnston's departure is incredulous after brightening the newsroom with her smile for more than three decades.

She was also Andy Donato's capable right-hand woman for numerous years and, overall, a loyal Sun staffer.

We will miss Bill Brioux's entertaining TV coverage and his weekly tribute to Jennifer Love Hewitt's golden globes. The Sun's TV coverage just got dimmer.

Others now looking for employment: John Simpson, copy editor; Tania Pereira, copy editor; Laura Bobak, copy editor; Mark Keast, sports editor; Natalie Pona, reporter; Brett Clarkson, reporter; Scott Stevenson, mail messenger; April Novak, typist; Manuela Foliero, typist.

The Sun has also lost four other layoff-related jobs. Veteran award-winning photographer Fred Thornhill, veteran writer
Sandy Naiman and reporters Dave Henderson and Kim Bradley took buyouts to save the jobs of others.

Fred Thornhill's departure leaves only two veteran members of the photo desk's Dream Team from the 1970's and 1980's - Stan Behal and Michael Peake.

Sandy Naiman's departure reminds current and former staffers how much she has contributed to our understanding of the true meaning of the "Family" in Sun Family.

Collectively, that is a lot of talent out the door.

Just call this Blue Friday.

Wednesday 24 January 2007

The Rumour Mill

The rumour mill in recent months has created a depressing possible scenario for the future of the Toronto Sun and its sister tabloids.

The rumours include:

- More layoffs in 2007, possibly another 140 Sun Media staffers across the board;

- The Sun's pressroom will be the main target of the next round of layoffs. (As announced by Quebecor in 2005, a centralized printing plant being built in the Islington area will publish the Toronto Sun, the London Free Press and 24 Hours, trimming pressroom jobs);

- With all of the staff reductions, cutbacks and obsolete presses at 333 King Street East, the building Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt built in 1975 will be vacated and sold;

- The depleted Toronto Sun staff will move under the same roof as 24 Hours and Canoe staff;

- The Sun and 24 Hours will eventually be merged and published as a free daily newspaper;

- The few remaining Toronto Sun Day Oners will retire or move on to other media ventures;

- The Little Paper That Grew will grow no more;

- Quebecor, a Quebec conglomerate that bought Sun Media on Jan. 7, 1999, will have morphed the Miracle on King Street into a throwaway freebee in less than a decade;

- The fate of sister Suns in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton? Morphed or axed?

If all of the rumours become fact and that is the destiny of the 35-year-old Toronto Sun, there is a "what went wrong?" book to be written.

The Globe has been published since 1844 (163 years), merging with the Mail (1872) in 1936; The Toronto Star has been around since 1892 (115 years); the Telegram was published from 1876 to 1971 (95 years); The National Post, the pup, made its debut in 1998 (nine years).

Media watchdogs have been saying for years Toronto is unique in having four major daily newspapers with street sales and home delivery. Gamblers were putting their money on the Post being the first casualty and with the Conrad Black debacle, it looked like they might collect. But the Post is hanging in there.

If the Sun becomes a throwaway newspaper, carried on the backs of advertisers, it would remove it from the major daily newspaper league, a big loss for fans of the Sun, circa 1971 through the 1990's.

And it would be a sad day for the Toronto Sun Family.

Monday 22 January 2007

Gord Walsh exits

A new week and a new departure at the ever-shrinking Toronto Sun newsroom.

Veteran Sun staffer Gord Walsh, who worked his way up the Sun ladder from police reporter to managing editor, has called it quits and will make his exit on Feb. 2.

"It is time to try something else - after I take a break," says Gord, a good-natured newsman who has kept the newsroom afloat despite heavy staff cutbacks.

Gord, managing editor for almost eight years, says there was no "final straw" in his decision to resign.

"Just doing something I have been thinking about for a long time. It has been a great ride and I am leaving on a positive note. Change is as good as a rest, so they say."

Speaking of rest, we can't imagine the stress level of an ME at the Sun these days.

Sun staffers at the 35th anniversary reunion of former and current staffers in November said Gord was doing a Herculean job in managing a newsroom with a bare bones staff.

Gord has always been a dedicated Sun staffer, back to the 1980's while manning the police desk. When he graduated to city desk, he did so with ease. Reporters appreciated his laid back style in management/staff relations.

Gord and his replacement, Michael Burke-Gaffney, have worked together for more than two decades. We are sure Gord, always the gentleman, wishes Mike well as ME.

We wish you well, Gord. It was always a pleasure working with you. The Star, Globe and Post would be wise to note that you are available.

And to Michael, former Sunday Sun editor and multi-talented newsman, our best wishes as ME and resident juggler.

The Sun newsroom still doesn't have an editor-in-chief, a post left vacant in September with the sudden resignation of Jim Jennings.

Cold Cases

When Max Haines retired last year, his departure left a huge void for Sunday Sun readers who could never get enough of his chilling Crime Flashback tales.

The mild-mannered master of mayhem, who got his start at a Nova Scotia newspaper called The Casket, had a passion for researching and writing about murders most foul.

How to fill that void? This blogger has suggested the crime writing void could be filled quite effectively with Toronto's first weekly Cold Case column.

Approach police forces across the province, from small villages to major cities, and ask them to cooperate with the Sun by revisiting baffling cold cases.

Tackle cold cases - unsolved murders, missing persons, fatal hit-and-runs, bank robberies, frauds etc. - with the same thoroughness of a Max Haines Crime Flashback.

Sun Media could offer cash rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction and it could profile the weekly cold cases on SUN-TV and the Internet for wider exposure.

Mark Bonokoski's superb column in the Sunday Sun on Jan. 21 could be used as Exhibit A in the argument for a weekly Cold Case column.

Mark's research into the 1933 Toronto hit-and-run death of 10-year-old Wolf Cub Buster Silvester proves no unsolved case is too old to forget.

The veteran, award-winning columnist, working from well-aged Telegram clippings, located the victim's 81-year-old younger brother in Nova Scotia and personalized the tragic cold case with an interview.

Multiply Mark's column by 52 per year and a Sunday Sun weekly review of cold cases could help ease the decline in circulation.

The Sun of old thrived on innovation and had more hits than misses in hand-picking columns in its first 30 years.

Sun Media has the combined Telegram/Sun library clippings to kick-start the research of cold cases recommended by police forces.

Cold Case columns researched and written with the same sensitivity as Sunday's Mark Bonokoski column would be positive on numerous fronts.

Relatives of victims would have renewed hope of closure; readers could help solve baffling cases; culprits might surrender out of new bouts of guilt; the missing might be found.

The recent identification of bones found in a field north of Toronto 40 years ago captivated readers and tips resulted in a family being able to bury a young murder victim.

Police, the media and the public made it happen. That is team work in the most positive sense, as experienced by John Walsh and his America's Most Wanted viewers for 20 years.

It could happen more often if the Sun, or any Toronto newspaper, devoted more time and space to Ontario's cold cases.

Thursday 18 January 2007

Jennings at Globe

Loyal fans of Jim Jennings, who suddenly resigned as Editor-in-Chief of the Toronto Sun in September, are wishing him well with his new job - at the Globe and Mail.

"P.S. - Former Toronto Sun Editor-in-Chief Jim Jennings has been hired as the Globe and Mail's Acting Art Director. He started on Monday of this week," says a reliable source.

The Sun's loss, the Globe's gain.

Fave Flashback '91

SkyDome was two years old and still giving awe-struck visitors goosebumps when the Toronto Sun booked the huge stadium for its 20th anniversary celebration on Nov. 1, 1991.

Co-founders Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt were always there over the years in rewarding employees for their loyalty and productivity.

But they outdid themselves in staging the 20th anniversary Toronto Sun bash, prompting the applause of 3,000 employees and former staffers who attended the party.

The Sun had experienced a light downturn in advertising in 1991 and had opted out of several ventures to reduce expenses, but Doug vowed there would be a memorable party to thank employees for the tabloid's phenomenal growth in the first two decades.

Former Toronto Sun employees working at sister newspapers in Calgary and Edmonton were flown in for the party and comped rooms at the posh SkyDome hotel. A VIA train car was booked to transport Ottawa Sun employees to the party.

While employees were told the party was at SkyDome, few expected to be walking onto the field surrounded by a full Conklin Shows midway, with carnival games, a Merry-Go-Round, Argo dancers, bars, patios, dining areas and the activities screened larger than life on the JumboTron.

It had the surreal feeling of a Felini movie.

John McDermott, a former Sun employee and Doug's favourite Irish crooner, joined the happy birthday greetings in song and the cutting of the huge birthday cake by Doug, Peter and Don was followed by an indoor fireworks display.

The 20th anniversary party, with appropriate celebratory publications and mementos, would be the Toronto Sun's last great milestone celebration. (A black tie dinner for Day Oners was held the previous night at the Royal Ontario Museum, which hosted a 20-year Sun photo display.)

Doug Creighton was quoted as saying: "This weekend is costing us about as much as it did to start the paper in 1971."

In hindsight, the 20th anniversary was the highest of peaks for the Miracle on King Street.

Booking the SkyDome reportedly raised the ire of Maclean Hunter execs and shareholders who considered that degree of giving back to employees was an avoidable expense.

Lord Thomson became a very wealthy man with that mentality - all take, minimal give.

But Doug, Peter and Don were givers; newspapermen at heart, millionaires by chance. They gave back a fortune over the first 20 years with parties held to celebrate circulation and anniversary milestones, plus Christmas bonuses, profit sharing, stock offers, sabbaticals etc.

Loyal? Damn right, we were. That is why 99% of the employees were outraged when Doug was ousted a year later, four days after the Toronto Sun's 21st anniversary.

What a difference a year made - from the harmony and highs of a 20th anniversary celebration to a boardroom takeover by the takers.

We all know where the takers have taken the Sun.

Tuesday 16 January 2007

Countdown begins

The little paper that stopped growing will be thinner still on Jan. 25, with the latest round of layoff victims making their exit. (See updated list below.)

The SONG union members will be joining several high profile non-union Toronto Sun staffers, including Sports Editor Pat Grier, who resigned or were fired in recent months.

Gord Walsh, Managing Editor for almost eight years, has resigned and will make his exit on Feb. 2.

Jim Jennings, resigned as Editor-in-Chief on Sept. 20. He is now the Globe and Mail's acting art director.

Linda Williamson, Editorial Page Editor, asked for a buyout and left to work as the communications manager for the Ontario Ombudsman.

Andrew Wallace
, Photo Director, left the Sun to work at the Star. Len Fortune has taken over Andrew's previous management post.

Pat Grier, Sports Editor, left the Sun under "murky circumstances" and reportedly has retained legal counsel.

Alison Downie, Readership Editor, was quietly let go by the company on Jan. 5.

Notified on Nov. 30, these union members will lose their full-time and part-time jobs as of Jan. 25:

Bill Brioux, entertainment critic (f/t); Maryanna Lewyckyj, Assistant Money Editor (f/t); John Simpson, copy editor (p/t); Tania Pereira, copy editor (p/t); Laura Bobak, copy editor (p/t); Mark Keast, amateur sports editor (p/t); Natalie Pona, general assignment reporter (f/t); Brett Clarkson, general assignment reporter (p/t); Sherry Johnston, administrative assistant (f/t), a Day Oner with 35 years at the Sun; Scott Stevenson, mail messenger (f/t); April Novak, typist (p/t); Manuela Foliero, typist (p/t).

The following jobs were saved thanks to buyouts from other staffers:

Jon McCarthy, copy editor (f/t) - Dave Henderson took a buyout, saving Jon's job; Mike Koreen, sports reporter (f/t) - Kim Bradley took a buyout, saving a reporter job. Mike has been reassigned to GA reporter; Brodie Fenlon, GA reporter (f/t) - veteran writer Sandy Naiman took a buyout, saving Brodie's job; Dave Lucas, photographer (f/t) - veteran photographer Fred Thornhill took a buyout, saving Dave's job.

The following vacancies were eliminated:

Rob Granatstein's reporter job (f/t); Lisa Lisle's reporter job (f/t); Bill Pierce's copy editor job (f/t). All were promoted to management jobs shortly before the layoffs. Plus Vivian Song's reporter job (f/t). Vivian was hired as a "national" reporter before the layoffs; James Robinson's copy editor job (f/t). James was hired as "corporate" editorial co-ordinator before the layoffs; Bob Bishop's Showcase editor job (f/t); Derek Tse's assistant Showcase editor job (f/t). Bob and Derek left between rounds of layoffs to join the Toronto Star; Lara Schroeder's copy editor job (f/t). Lara left between rounds of layoffs to join CBC online; Gillian Symington's proofreader/copy runner job (p/t). Gillian got a job with MuchMusic.

Monday 15 January 2007

Remembering Jamie

Does Quebecor consider a promise to a dying young man expendable fluff, something that can be eliminated with the stroke of a bookkeeper's pen?

It would seem so now that the Toronto Sun's annual Jamie Westcott Memorial Award for crime reporting has been quietly eliminated by the media conglomerate, a decision attributed to cost-saving cutbacks.

Jamie Westcott won four newspaper awards in his three short years in the Sun newsroom, all the while battling cancer with the same bravado as our national hero, Terry Fox.

Before Jamie died at 25 on June 13, 1989, the Sun told him he would not be forgotten; an annual award for crime reporting would be awarded in his name.

Jamie's father, Clare Westcott, said knowing he wouldn't be forgotten meant the world to Jamie, whose goal in the last few years of his life was to succeed as a newsman.

Sun colleagues applauded the gesture and the awards were presented through the 1990's.

There is no heart, or soul, left at Sun Media if a promise to a dying man can't be honoured.

If Quebecor's goal is to sever all ties to Doug Creighton and the glory days of the Toronto Sun, when Sun "Family" meant something, it is succeeding in a most shameful manner.

A comment posted by Dennis Earl to Toronto Sun Family: 1971 - 2007 at January 16, 2007:

I very much enjoyed the tributes to the Westcott family. Out of curiosity, I did a Google search and found something that I'd like to add to the story.

The day after Jamie's death from cancer, two members of the 34th Parliament of Ontario noted the tragedy with kind remarks during an afternoon session of the Legislative Assembly. First up was Cochrane South MP Alan William Pope (PC):

"I note with regret the passing of James Westcott, a police reporter with the Toronto Sun. While a high school student, Jamie was recognized for his contributions to his school through numerous awards and distinctions that he earned while he attended that school in London. He was an excellent student.

"In his all-too-brief journalism career, through hard work and dedication, he shared or received himself numerous awards and citations. He was a credit to his profession, which in return respected him. He was a source of pride to his family, who loved him. He carried his pain and the effects of his disease with dignity until his life ended at the age of 25.

"To his mother and dad, Virginia and Clare, whom many of us know so well, and to all his family and friends, all members of the Legislative Assembly offer our sincerest condolences at the passing of Jamie Westcott."

Then, later on, Richard Frank Johnson, the NDP member representing Scarborough West, said: "I wish to briefly join the comments by the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) about the very sad passing of Jamie Westcott, which most of us have read about in the papers today. He was a young 25-year-old reporter, and in connection with this House, the son of a servant of this place for many, many years - Clare Westcott, a constituent of mine.

"Along with his wife, Virginia, he is, I am sure, suffering a great deal, as do all families that have a premature death of this sort strike them. On behalf of our caucus colleagues, I would like to pass on our condolences to that family today in this time of need."

Pretty amazing that a 25-year-old journalist, already successful and highly decorated, would inspire two politicians of different philosophical persuasions to acknowledge his death in the classy, graceful manner that they did.

Dennis Earl - The Writings of Dennis Earl

Saturday 13 January 2007

The Westcotts

The Westcotts of Ontario have had media ties for more than half a century.

It all began in 1950, with Clare Westcott at the Toronto Telegram, brief as it was; followed by Genevieve Westcott and her award-winning rise to international recognition as a print/broadcast journalist; Jamie Westcott and his award-winning, but bittersweet, three years as a Toronto Sun reporter/photographer; Kathleen Westcott, the youngest of nine children, hired as an executive assistant to Global TV's vice-president of programming.

Clare Westcott, the father:
Clare can type his full-time media resume using only 11 words: Toronto Telegram, Monday to Wednesday. Fired for refusing to work weekends.

Says Clare: "I came to Toronto in 1950 (after 10 years with Hydro in Western Ontario) to a job at the Telegram. It paid $2,750 a year and my intention was to take journalism at night at the newly established Ryerson Institute. I left my wife and baby son in Seaforth and lived in one room on Dalton Road. The deal with my quite new wife was that I would return home every weekend, for she worked for three doctors and lived in an apartment above their medical clinic.

"While in high school and through the later 1940`s, I worked part-time for the weekly Seaforth News. I started at the Tely at Melinda and Bay on a Monday morning, and registered for night school at Ryerson the same day. On the Wednesday, I saw my name on a posted list of those who were to work on the weekend. I went up to a man who looked important and told him I had promised my wife I would return to Seaforth every weekend and would not be able to work. He asked my name, then called someone on the phone and said, 'Make up Westcott's pay, he`s through.'

"At later Tely reunions, I was the guy with the lapel badge (which I framed and still have) saying simply, Toronto Telegram - Clare Westcott - Monday to Wednesday. In later years, the guy who fired me became a good friend. It was J. Douglas MacFarlane - who was turfed from the Tely by John Bassett about 20 years later, with about the same grace as JDM dumped me."

Clare vividly remembers his firing: "About 30 minutes after J.D. made the call - I presume to payroll - a fellow came up and gave me a cheque for three days. I did work only three days, Monday to Wednesday, and I damn well left early Wednesday when I was turfed."

But Clare quickly landed on his feet.

"I was so very lucky to have bounced to another job, even though it paid about $100 less. I became a minor spear carrier for Leslie M. Frost and hung around Queen's Park for the next 35 years. I was awash in humility through all those years, for everyone knew I was a high school dropout. I quit Grade 11 to join the army and was rejected as unfit, so I left school for Hydro. Now, when I look at my Grade 11 school picture, I see the unfit Westcott is the only one still alive."

Among the numerous sidebars in Clare's life: He was campaign manager for Frank McGee in the June 1957 election in Scarborough, winning with the largest majority in history (Clare is now writing about the big win and how Gratton O'Leary, John Bassett, J.D. MacFarlane, Laurie McEchnie, Val Sears, Dalton Bales and the short-lived Sunday Telegram made the record win happen.)

In the mid 1960's, Clare, the high school dropout, was appointed to the Board of Governors of Ryerson and in the early 1970's, former Premier John Robarts and Clare received the first two honourary degrees.

After retiring from Queen's Park in 1985, Clare was appointed Commissioner of Metro Toronto Police, only to be fired by David Peterson in 1989. Then it was on to special assistant to Finance Minister Michael Wilson until 1993, when made a citizenship court judge in Scarborough. Fired again, this time by the Chretien government.

Clare also returned to his newspaper roots during the 1980's and 1990's, writing a weekly column for the Seaforth News.

"I wrote a column about this and that - politics and politicians, people I knew - and anecdotes from my years in government, including pieces about newspaper folk. Wrote 200 to 300 columns."

The writer in Clare found an unexpected source of material after selling their house in Scarborough and moving into a condo.

"I had a library of about 2,000 books and about as many 78s and vinyl records. Many of the books were up to 100 years old and I had a lot of vintage records and a few hundred tapes. So I rented a stall at the Pickering Antique Market and liked it so much, I was there every Sunday for two years. Wrote a column about it."

In the decades since his three-day stint at the Tely, Clare has retained ties with the media, became good friends with JDM, wrote a few pieces for the Sun and "had great relations in the 70's and 80's with Sun staffers at the Queens Park press gallery, especially Claire Hoy and his replacement, Lorrie Goldstein."

Genevieve, the daughter:
Genevieve Westcott, one of New Zealand's most recognized journalists and a sought-after public speaker, got her start in Canadian media as a Vancouver Sun financial reporter. At 23, she became the Vancouver Province's youngest editorial page writer.

Television beckoned and Genevieve continued her media climb, working at Canwest Television Network, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and as West Coast bureau chief for CTV National News. She capped her Canadian TV career as an anchor and correspondent for CTV's W5.

In 1984, Genevieve moved to New Zealand, where the award-winning journalist continued to impress employers and viewers at TVNZ's Eyewitness News, with appearances on newsmagazines Close Up and 60 Minutes; anchored TV's A Current Affair and The Westcott File; worked as a 20/20 correspondent and also hosted ZB radio programs in Aukland.

With 13 national and international awards for journalistic excellence on her resume, she is also a sought-after public speaker through her Westcott Communications firm.

Jamie Westcott, the son:
Jamie Westcott was born into a growing family on May 30, 1964. While attending General Crerar Public School in Scarborough, young Jamie became keenly interested in Latin, but the school didn't teach Latin.

Clare and Virginia Westcott never discouraged any of their children when it came to education so after he completed Grade 8, they enrolled Jamie at Regina Mundi College, a private Catholic high school in London, Ontario.

With six of their other children attending or planning to attend the University of Western Ontario, the University of Windsor, York University and the University of Toronto, the Westcotts took out a second mortgage to get Jamie into Regina Mundi in 1978.

Jamie got his taste of Latin in London and graduated from high school in 1983 as an Ontario Scholar. His parents wanted him to attend the University of Toronto, but Jamie opted for St. Michael's College in Toronto.

Clare says university life wasn't what Jamie was expecting. With the media success and adventures of his older sister in mind, his thoughts turned to journalism. Within a few months, he dropped out of St. Michael's and switched to journalism at Centennial College in Scarborough.

"Jamie was 21 and about halfway through journalism when the cancer was discovered in December of 1986," says Clare. "He didn't want to stay in school for he didn't know for sure how long he had. The doctor told him he thought they found all the cancer, but couldn't be sure.

"The doctor told his mother he would likely have three to five years if it returned - and longer if it went into remission. I am sure Jamie then knew the odds."

Jamie, operated on in January of 1986, began a series of heavy chemotherapy sessions that continued into spring.

With the help of Doug Creighton, Jamie joined the Toronto Sun family in May of 1986 as a summer student. The good-natured new staffer helped co-workers get past the hat he always wore by saying he was self-conscious about losing his hair during chemo.

The Westcott media streak continued, with Jamie feeling right at home at the Sun, winning four awards for crime reporting and writing tabloid cops and robbers stories and features with flare. His presence in the newsroom was appreciated and he was elated by the acceptance.

Cancer being the cruel bastard that it is, Jamie's fight for life came to an end June 13, 1989, at Scarborough General Hospital, where he was born. He was 25. It was a blow to fellow Sun staffers who came to admire Jamie as a man and journalist.

The Jamie Westcott Memorial Award, initiated and sponsored by the Toronto Sun in his memory, was awarded annually through the 1990's for crime reporting. Jamie was told about the new award shortly before his death.

"Jamie was afraid he would be forgotten because his working life was so short," says Clare. "The award was given out through the '90's, but budget cuts by the Quebecor folks resulted in it being dropped. "

(Editor's Note: One more entry for the ever expanding heartless Quebecor Wall of Shame.)

Clare said when Jamie went off to school for those five years in his teens, they had no idea he would be gone from their lives at 25.

"We didn't know then we would be losing him, for in those five years away, we only saw him during the summer holidays and maybe one weekend a month. I cherish the plaques he got for the four newspaper awards he won in his short three years at the Sun."

He also cherishes a June 1, 1986, letter Jamie mailed to his sister, Genevieve, and her husband, Ross, in New Zealand. The letter, written a month after he started working at the Sun and three years before his death, captures Jamie's eagerness to be accepted and productive.

"Hi Gen & Ross,
Just writing from work to say hi and to tell you about my 1st month as a ‘real newsman.’

So far, so good. I've had about a dozen assignments, mostly soft stuff. But a few good stories made the paper. This place is fun all the time . . . work gets done . . . but there’s no tension or bitching like I thought there would be!

There are five students here now, and they usually keep 2 or 3, so I’m just gonna try & impress the hell out of them!

Slow news day today, so I’m just hangin' out & taking calls. I hear you are up for more!!! awards. Way to go.

Still haven’t taken a pic for a story cuz no matter who I shoot, they seem to have a file picture to use instead.

I was using the Pentax, but I have no flash for it so I take an idiot camera from work now. It’s just a Nikon one-touch, but I would really like to take more shots.

Did my first pick up yesterday when I worked the police desk. All those radios going at once is confusing, but once I begin to understand what they’re talking about, I’ll know what to listen for!!!

Only 2 more treatments left & then I’ll be back in the hair business. Yeah!

Anyways, the editor’s back so I’ll have to get back on full alert. Thanks again for the sweater. Tell Ross he has good taste.

Love, Jamie. "

Clare Westcott, son Jamie and 20 other family members flew off to New Zealand in 1987 for the wedding of Genevieve Westcott and husband Ross. During their stay, Clare and Jamie visited The Rainbow Warrior, a ship that had been sunk by the French secret service. Jamie, like most loyal and enthusiastic Sun reporters in the 1970's and 1980's, took notes during his stay in New Zealand and on his return, wrote two stories about his trip, including a full page fishing story with pictures. His beard, his contagious smile, his enthusiasm for writing and his Terry Fox bravado while battling cancer are all components of the memories family, friends and co-workers have of Jamie almost 20 years after his death.

Friday 12 January 2007

Sunday Sun

In her final Sunday Sun column, Val Gibson hinted Sun Media has a makeover in mind for the Sunday paper.

Would that be an extreme makeover, or just more minor meddling with a once successful Sunday Sun format?

Be gentle. We are finding it more difficult by the week to justify paying $2.12 for the thinning Sunday Sun. The recent departure of Max Haines left a big void on our must-read list.

We have to wonder if Mike Burke-Gaffney and other former Sunday Sun editors who saw Sunday Sun circulation rocket past 300,000, 400,000 and 500,000 in the glory years weep silently.

In our books, Burke-Gaffney is one of the unsung heroes at the Sun. He was at the helm for many Sunday Sun milestones, including passing 500,000 in Sunday sales.

Each and every circulation milestone in the early upswing years naturally called for a lavish Doug Creighton endorsed party to say thanks to Sun staff.

There are no parties for downturns.

But if Sun Media is taking notes:

The TV guide listings have become a pain for those who put their faith in the (N) as in new episode. New episodes are often not listed with an (N) making PVR scheduling frustrating.

Your TV guide sports listings now include poker, but why ignore requests for CITY-TV's Professional Poker Tour and World Poker Tour listings? And how about NBC's new Poker After Dark?

Your TV guide Crossword could be a little more challenging, although it does feel rewarding to be able to breeze through it week after week.

Jim Thomson continues to write an interesting video column, but why is his e-mail address not mentioned for the benefit of readers?

With the retirement of Max Haines, why not fill the void by introducing Toronto's first weekly Cold Case column? Work your way across Ontario writing about the most baffling cold cases. Offer rewards for arrests and convictions.

Max Haines' solid feedback and ratings should tell you readers can't get enough well-written crime stories.

Be innovative, as were the Sun's founders and editors in the early years. The Sunday Sun was the first to introduce a video column, first with a lottery/gambling column, first with a weekly crime flashback column.

The Sunday Sun is still worth a $2.12 investment out in the boondocks. We are just anxious about the direction Sun Media will take with its rumoured makeover.

Pump & Dump

Sun Media's tactics in the personnel department are sounding much like the old Bay Street penny stock "pump and dump" routine.

Pump and dump colourful TV writer Bill Brioux.

Pump and dump Readership Editor Alison Downie.

Pump and dump Val Gibson's Sunday Sun column.

Who's next? Check your local billboards and TV and radio commercials.

Eric Margolis has been spending more time in the Toronto Sun's deserted newsroom and on Sun TV. That is bothersome.

The enlightened columnist is a rare breed - a 21st century political analyst who wades through all of the American propaganda and tells it like it is in Iraq, Washington and elsewhere.

But Eric's fresh air analysis is much like a new television series you enjoy. Your enjoyment increases the odds of the series being axed prematurely.

So get out of the newsroom, Eric. Flee to the nearest bureau and out of the scope sight of the bean counters. We don't want to lose you.

Other people Sun Media can't afford to lose include Andy Donato, Mike Strobel and Mark Bonokoski.

Friday 5 January 2007

Alison Downie


Alison Downie and her much hyped Readership Editor column have been quietly axed by Quebecor.

Alison and her popular direct link to readers were terminated two months after she wrote her last Sunday Sun readership column on Nov. 5.

Shame on Quebecor for keeping Sun readers in the dark about the fate of the Readership Editor. The Sun of old would tell readers why Alison and the relatively new and much hyped Readership Editor position are no longer valid.

(FYI: Alison, 47, was born in Dundee, Scotland. The Ontario Press Council member earned a journalism degree from Conestoga College in Kitchener. She was a reporter at the Citizen and then the Banner in Orangeville. During her stay at the Woodstock Sentinel-Review from 1985 to 1998, she worked her way up from reporter to managing editor. Alison was city editor at the Ottawa Sun from 1999 to 2002 and city editor at the Toronto Sun from 2002 to 2004.)

Alison, hired for the new Sun position by editor-in-chief Jim Jennings in 2005, settled in quite nicely, responding to the concerns of readers and answering their telephone calls and e-mails.

You can still read Alison's columns on the Internet. Did a sensitive Quebecor find Alison too honest in her reaction to the comments and complaints of Sun readers?

Or did Jennings' abrupt resignation in September 2006 curb her enthusiasm for the job and she let it be known? Jennings' sudden departure sure felt like a body blow to staffers who considered him a newsroom savior, much needed in such negative times.

Newsroom speculation was Jennings, a veteran America-born newsman who helped redesign the Sun in a major overhaul and was vocally pro-staff, resigned over additional newsroom staff cuts in the works.

(Jennings' resignation was announced on the day the SUNshine Girl failed to appear in the Sun, an omission management said was a technical error.)

Maryanna Lewyckyj, associate Money editor and Sun newsroom union rep, told the Globe and Mail Jennings would be missed because "he was seen as someone who stood for editorial integrity and fought against further cuts at the paper."

She told the Globe many people in the Sun newsroom were concerned that more layoffs were coming and added: "These are pretty frightening times."

Frightening times, indeed.

Two months after talking to the Globe, Maryanna learned her name was among 16 additional newsroom staffers to be axed.

Thursday 4 January 2007

Centralized Editing

The David Edgar story is a classic example of why having sports done centrally doesn't work.

Edgar, for those who missed it, is a 19-year-old from Kitchener, Ontario, who scored a goal against Manchester United in Premier League action while making his home debut for Newcastle United - only his second appearance for the club at that level.

Now granted, soccer isn't a big sport in Canada, but it is big enough. And it is big enough that a kid who quit hockey to play soccer and defied the odds to make it to the big show, and then pulls off a stunner against arguably the biggest franchise in the world, should at least get front page play and more than a wire wrap story.

The Toronto Sun used a wire story inside, the London Free Press, an hour away from KW didn't even have the story on their front page.

The Star at least assigned a reporter and produced a great piece . . . not sure where they played it (in print) but it was on the front of their web page.

You know, it was hammered into us (at the Sun) that news is always local . . . and here's a classic example of story that should have been bigger.

Oh, and just to add one more thing, the Globe also did a great job of getting to the home town of Canadian juniors goalie hero Carey Price - again a story that pushed a sports story into human interest and into the front pages of the paper.

Why didn't the Sun hit the Edgar story? Top four reasons: There is no longer a local focus; there is no staff; no one at the Sun gives a damn about soccer; it is someone else's job.

Tuesday 2 January 2007

Mr. Lou Grant

It was a brilliant Toronto Sun promotion, pitched to the public with a straight face.

The Toronto Sun, in need of a city editor, decided to hire Mr. Lou Grant as senior city editor.

The appointment of Lou Grant, formerly of American television and newspaper newsrooms, was announced in the business section on Page 59 of the March 9, 1979, Toronto Sun.

The "Toronto Sun Appointment," with a photo of Lou Grant below, read:

"J. Douglas Creighton, publisher, is pleased to announce Mr. Lou Grant has accepted the position of Senior City Editor.

Mr. Grant brings a distinguished career spanning electronic and print journalism to this newly-created editorial position.

He comes to Toronto from the Los Angeles Tribune and has worked on many major metropolitan dailies, including the Herald, the Globe, the News, the Chronicle, the Times and the Examiner.

For seven years, he was News Director of WJM-TV in Minneapolis where his highly acclaimed news operation captured several Teddy Awards.

As Senior City Editor he will exercise full editorial control and will report to Managing Editor Ed Monteith."

Lou Grant arrived for work on March 23, 1979, and looked quite at ease sitting at city desk until pesky Peter Gross from CITY-TV started directing him to do this and that for the camera.

After 15 minutes of Peter Gross in his face, Lou was looking like his grumpy old self at WJM-TV and the L.A. Trib.

Lou was surprised that his appointment created a stir among some readers who lambasted the Sun for hiring an American editor, rather than a Canadian.

With day one on the job out of the way, Lou attended a welcome-to-the-Sun cocktail party and got to mingle with Creighton, Peter Worthington and staffers from all floors.

So it was a shock to many the next day when Creighton announced Lou was fired. He was too disruptive to the flow of the newsroom, with the TV cameras and all, said Doug.

Lou made his exit and flew back to L.A.

And the Sun, for the benefit of readers who didn't know it was a clever promotion, got back to reality.

The reality all along was veteran actor Ed Asner, whose Lou Grant character on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the Lou Grant series paid his bills and won awards, was a great sport.

Ed met with Peter Worthington in Los Angeles earlier in the year to discuss the Lou Grant stunt and agreed to do it while in Toronto during a film shoot.

The hiring of Lou Grant and booking the SkyDome for a lavish Toronto Sun 20th anniversary staff party rank among the most memorable one day events in Sun history.

Classic Sun.

Lou Grant Day also created the ultimate Odd Couple in the newsroom and at the reception: outspoken leftist Ed Asner and outspoken cap C conservative Peter Worthington.

But Ed's day in the Sun obviously made an impression. He dropped by the Sun to say hello a couple of times while filming in Toronto.

And CITY-TV's Peter Gross was not invited.

Those were the days, my friends, we thought they'd never end.