By Interim staffAfter dragging the matter on for a year, the Ontario Press Council has decided to not even a consider a complaint into an article and two columns by the Globe and Mail’s Heather Mallick, which, among other things, urged that Henry Morgentaler be given the Order of Canada, incorrectly described a 12-week-old fetus as a “dot,” labelled pro-life members of Parliament in good standing as “stooges” and “daft,” depicted abortuaries as places of merriment and music and suggested that pro-life Canadians are prone to violence.
In a March 5 letter, the OPC said it “saw the column as falling within the bounds of its policy statement, which says it believes it is appropriate for columnists to exercise wide latitude in expressing their opinions, no matter how controversial or unpopular the opinions may be.”
However, the original article, “Why doesn’t this man have the Order of Canada?” published in the Jan. 18, 2003 Globe, was neither a column nor an opinion piece. In fact, it was published in the form of a biography, complete with numerous photographs, on the front page of the newspaper’s Focus section. The intent was to portray Morgentaler as a hero, overcoming opposition from religion, politics, law and pro-life Canadians in his quest to win “rights” for women.
“Most people in his position would have received their Order of Canada years ago. His omission is puzzling,” wrote Mallick.
The article, and two subsequent columns under Mallick’s name, enraged pro-life Canadians, who wrote the Globe with communications of complaint and protest. Even then, however, the Globe emphasized “pro-choice” submissions in its choice of which letters were to appear in its print edition and on its website.
One complaint into the article and columns cited seven separate journalistic conventions that were violated by the Globe and Mallick: