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The Globe and Mail Refuses to Discuss their Latest Election Endorsement

Did the Globe and Mail's editor-in-chief really censor his own editorial board's decision to endorse the Liberals? If it's true, he's certainly not saying one way or another. Patrick McGuire pressed him for an answer anyway.

Screenshot via.
Last week, many Ontarians were surprised to see Kathleen Wynne, the Liberal incumbent premier, get re-elected into a majority government after her party had so many costly skeletons in their closet they have yet to answer to. Her majority government owes a lot, I think, to the intense crappiness of Tim Hudak—who managed to turn everyone from teachers, cops, and liquor monopolies against him.


One enemy that Tim Hudak did not have working against his Progressive Conservative campaign machine, however, was the Globe and Mail’s editor-in-chief, David Walmsley.

A day before the provincial election, Jesse Brown’s Canadaland podcast broke a story alleging that David Walmsley overruled the newspaper’s editorial board, who overwhelmingly chose to endorse Kathleen Wynne. At the very last moment, a senior source at the Globe, who Jesse cannot name, and who was not recorded by Canadaland, insists that Walmsley overturned the Liberal endorsement. The post goes as far as saying that Walmsley was following directions from the publisher, who was “carrying out the orders of the Globe-controlling Thomson family.”

Canadaland also has Facebook screenshots showing how the Globe pushed back announcing their endorsement by an hour, which would seem to indicate there was some kind of internal hiccup that led to a delay.

Screenshot via Canadaland.
Just before this allegation broke, David Walmsley appeared on the Globe’s own online news show, Globe Now, to discuss the paper’s endorsement for a Conservative minority. The Globe Now video quotes Professor Paul Booth, who graded all of the editorial endorsements in Ontario, and gave the Globe an ‘F.’ He articulated the silliness of the Globe’s choice very bluntly:

“Recommending that voters return a Conservative minority is nonsensical. How do voters practically implement such a recommendation?”


To this criticism, Walmsley responded: “The thrust of what we’re saying is that there needs to be a period of maturing for the Conservatives, and that Tim Hudak needs to do a better job of explaining some of the math behind his job proposals. But the idea that we’re saying there should be such strategic voting that can ultimately result in a minority is something that’s beyond the individual, but a hope for the province—that is what the Globe and Mail would hope—so that there are reigns applied to Tim Hudak should he win.”

If Canadaland’s story is true, it seems like Walmsley’s confusing defense of their minority endorsement is essentially horseshit. If there was actually an agreement that the paper would go forth with a Kathleen Wynne endorsement and Walmsley changed it at the last minute, it’s hard to believe that there was any genuine “hope” from the Globe that the government Ontario was about to elect would in fact be a Hudak minority.

I sent several emails to David Walmsley and Sylvia Stead, the Globe’s Public Editor, who should probably be dealing with this controversy (since it’s her job) but almost all of my requests for comment were ignored. The only response I got from the Globe was sent yesterday, when I wrote to both Walmsley and Stead asking if they would be providing comment. Stead responded, only by saying: “I won’t.”

When I pressed her on it further, saying that I was planning on writing a story about this and I did not want to proceed, in an ideal world, without comment from the Globe, she wrote: “I'm not in the office today and wasn't for the past two weeks so I am unable to say anything without taking some time to look into this. If you listen to Mr. Walmsley's interview on the Globe show you hear him say that ultimately the decision is his.”


Stead’s what-Walmsley-says-goes defense is acceptable if you run a newsroom strictly under military-style “chain of command” rules, in which case, the editor-in-chief can truly can do whatever they want, and thereby overrule any decision they want. But, speaking personally as a member of the Ontario public and as a journalist, it doesn’t feel kosher for an editor to misrepresent their editorial team’s views by printing a statement that uses the royal we, but really only reflects the beliefs of that one editor. Especially when the statement is used to influence an election (though, as we can plainly see, the power of the Globe’s endorsement is nothing to be impressed with).

Almost zero media attention has been paid to the Globe endorsement scandal, unless you count numerous tweets from media personalities, and a scathing article that Andrew Mitrovica ran on iPolitics yesterday evening. Mitrovica referred to the Walmsley allegation as “in-house censorship” and described Sylvia Stead’s handling of 2012’s Margaret Wente plagiarism scandal as a miserable failure.

It’s hard to disagree there.

Given the Globe’s recent history mishandling an internal scandal, I suppose it’s not surprising to see them plug their ears and close their eyes and pretend no one thinks it’s weird that their editor-in-chief reversed a decision to endorse the Liberal party at the very last minute, but we should expect better from Canada’s “paper of record."