POLITICS

The Coast, Citizen, CBC, La Presse, Star, Vancouver Sun vie for Michener Award

04/25/2013 02:57 EDT | Updated 06/25/2013 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - A CBC investigation into industry funded "independent" research into the health risks of asbestos mining and a probe by alternative weekly The Coast into the mayor of Halifax are among six finalists for the 2012 Michener Award.

Each year the Michener Awards Foundation honours a news organization for meritorious public service journalism.

The other finalists are Postmedia News and the Ottawa Citizen, La Presse, the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Sun.

Each news outlet was singled out for the degree of public benefit generated by the submitted stories.

The winner will be announced June 18 at a ceremony hosted by Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall.

The Michener Award was founded in 1970 by then governor general Roland Michener.

A look at the 2012 Michener Award finalists:

— CBC's Investigative Unit and Enquete showed links between industry funding and "independent" research that downplayed the health risks of asbestos mining in Canada. The research was used to support a "safe use" policy of continued asbestos exports to Third World countries. The compelling series forced government to act on a serious public health issue.

— The Coast, an independent alternative weekly newspaper, revealed that Halifax's popular three-term mayor, Peter Kelly, had taken more than $160,000 from an estate of which he was the executor but failed to disperse hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities and her heirs. As a result of the reporting, Kelly chose not to seek re-election.

— Postmedia News and the Ottawa Citizen exposed the use of "robocalls" to mislead and harass voters during the 2011 federal election campaign. Elections Canada is now investigating complaints, a Federal Court ruling is pending on the legality of results in six ridings, and a PC campaign worker faces charges.

— La Presse looked into the death of a young woman who had taken a "miracle cure." The inquiry tracked the tentacles of these "healers" in Quebec's hospitals and schools and exposed fraudulent receipts for insurance claims and taxes, and few prosecutions. The series shocked the medical community into action.

— The Toronto Star's autism project spotlighted the failure of Ontario's health and social policies to address the challenges faced at different stages of life by those with autism. The comprehensive series looked at all facets of the issue, prompting the province to review children's services and look at ways to bridge gaps for young adults.

— The Vancouver Sun investigated after explosions killed four workers at two northern B.C. sawmills and found that wood dust was frequently involved in fires, and that fire-code inspections were lax. The impact was swift. The B.C. government created a program to reduce the risk of dust explosions, and major forest companies promised an independent audit of dust levels.