How Toronto's Papers Covered a Canadian Military Scandal

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How Toronto’s Papers Covered a Canadian Military Scandal

Almost all of Toronto's dailies have the same thing on their front page today—with slightly different takes.

In Front Page Challenge, Torontoist analyzes the best and worst of Toronto’s major dailies.

Front Page Challenge

Most of Toronto’s newspapers lead this morning with a story currently cloaked in secrecy: on Monday, an RCMP investigation of the Canadian military led to the sudden removal of the country’s second-highest ranking military officer after a discovery that “pretty high-level secret documents” have been leaked. Nothing is yet known about what these documents were or whether the leaks involved journalists, the intervention of another country, or something else…yet. On the eve of the ascension of Donald Trump to the White House and the tremendous uncertainty in the world over this geopolitical sea change, which of Toronto’s papers best capture the moment?


globe jan 17
The Globe and Mail


The Globe has the most generous coverage of any Canadian newspaper of the removal of the vice-chief of the Canadian military, Mark Norman, pending the RCMP investigation now underway. These are early days for this developing story, with the Globe and other papers unable to say what this is all about, or why the military is stressing this is a “temporary” removal of Norman’s duties. The Globe uses a large photograph of the vice-admiral to fill up the space on this sparse front page, which also includes an update on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to advance the Brexit decision to leave the European Union while still forging a new economic partnership with the EU, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s promotion of retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie. Leslie will lead the effort to strengthen Canada-U.S. relations as soon-to-be President Trump seems to favour billionaires and generals in terms of filling his cabinet.


post jan 17
National Post


The Post leads this morning with a lurid true crime story from Christie Blatchford, who is in Calgary covering the triple-murder trial of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and their grandson Nathan. The headline is an excerpt from the testimony of Alvin and Kathryn’s daughter, who walked in on a crime scene in her parents’ home. The Post also reports what little they know about the RCMP investigation into the Canadian military, but it’s worth noting at the front page’s bottom right corner that the Post is hard at work rationalizing and accepting our new Russian overlord with a somewhat admiring story of how Vladimir Putin has seemingly outsmarted the Western world, leading “a country with less money than Canada and less people than Nigeria” to global domination.


star jan 17
Toronto Star


The Star is, as usual, all over the place on Page One this morning. They too report on the growing scandal in the military but the story runs below the fold. Their top story is of a Barrie-area woman whose recent suicide has complicated an upcoming trial over her alleged sexual assault. A suspect was arrested in the case, but he may now not be tried for the charge. The Star also claims to have gotten action from the Feds over the mercury contamination situation at the Grassy Narrows First Nations reserve. The Star is the only Toronto paper reporting on the likelihood that the Blue Jays will retain the services of Jose (Batflip) Bautista for next season…for 40 million dollars!


metro jan 17
Metro Toronto


If you thought Metro was done with the civic-minded tubthumping after it led them to victory in the derby for Torontoist’s 2016 Front Page Challenge trophy, think again, because it seems they were only warming up. Though they did find room on Page One for a cute animal (in a story about sharing the dog after a couple breaks up), the main focus this morning is on “Activism!” with a pair of front page stories to get people fired up. Between the story of female bartenders in Toronto banding together to fight sexual harassment in the city’s bar scene through training in how to intervene, and Matt Elliott urging Americans scared of President Donald Trump to look to the tactics of local activists to learn how to fight the power, Metro is hyped plus they’re amped.


sun jan 17Toronto Sun


This morning’s Sun cover features a surprise cameo from one of the paper’s favourite targets of the recent past, former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (aka Premier Dad), who is taken to the woodshed for old times sake along with the current Premier Kathleen Wynne. A report from the right-wing think tank The Fraser Institute says the shutdown of coal plants (McGuinty’s bright idea) hasn’t helped with air pollution levels or the rising price of electricity—in short, a billion dollar waste. Joe “Night Scrawler” Warmington gets the task of reporting on the removal of the Vice-Admiral from duty, and you can actually picture him slamming away on his intrepid reporter’s manual typewriter with his fedora cocked on his head while you read his opening paragraphs: “At a time when Canada has fighting troops in war zones, it was the Canadian military at home who had the bombshell dropped on it. Not since the heinous scandal of Col. Russell Williams has the Canadian military been this shaken.”


This week’s winner: This week’s trophy goes to the paper that chooses fight over flight in the wake of the new Trump era, stressing activism as the best response in the face of fear, exploitation and uncertainty. Metro gets on the board on our weekly standings.


frontpage_METRO

Newspaper Number of Wins
National Post 2
Metro 1
Toronto Sun 0
Toronto Star 0
Globe and Mail 0


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