"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wWednesday, June 25, 2003

REPORT KO: My former colleague Marnie Ko has a long piece on her tenure at the Report. Some of it is pretty damning, but, as I commented when she let me look at an earlier version, it would have been more potent if she named names. Her treatment by one editor in particular is truly shocking stuff. Samples:

My introduction to the Report (then in its regional incarnation as the Alberta Report) was a rough one. My obnoxious, emotionally erratic first editor told me he liked me a lot, but hoped my husband had a really big stick. Whether he was suggesting I should be beaten, or it was a sexual remark, I don’t know to this day. On hearing that, my husband wanted to take a whack at the editor, but we both knew I needed I needed the job.

That editor was an unpleasant fellow who would fly off the handle one moment, then call you five minutes later like the first conversation had never happened. He’d also call when you were writing frantically on deadline, and talk about useless, boring crap for the next two hours. He’d phone you up just to rant and rave endlessly about subjects and flit from one topic to another. He rarely made sense. I learned to grunt and sound interested while continuing to pound at the computer and concentrate on the latest green scheme to save the whales, or the various methods homosexuals used to go straight.


Indeed, he was so caught up in the moment that he told me I should celebrate such a good cover story by "fucking" my estranged husband. Then maybe he’d support me and I wouldn’t have to work anymore.

The awkwardness didn't stop there. Soon after, my editor began asking personal questions about my family life. I told him these things were none of his business. I refused to answer personal questions His business was that my stories were handed in on time and well done, I said.

“If you continue this,” I told him, “I will quit right now.” Over the course of the conversation, he told me that the new Citizen’s Centre Report Foundation was going to be very well-respected in the future and had plans for their new place among Canada’s movers and shakers. They wouldn’t want to be embarrassed, he said, by any scandal. He told me that women should really be home with their children. He told me that my working would result in me neglecting my children, even though I work at home.


But perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Citizens Centre's goals will be its own failings. Terry O'Neill, speaking for the organization, was asked to comment on the magazine ceasing publication and laying people off. He replied, "Luckily, I don't live paycheck to paycheck." Good for him, but most of the staff, and indeed the vast majority of the country suffering from oppressive taxation, do indeed live paycheck to paycheck. If easing the crushing impact of taxes, and improving the quality of life for all Canadians, are among the new foundations' goals, they've chosen a particularly poor way to go about convincing people. Maybe they bizarrely believe that a little more misery will make eventual reform more likely.

I can't help but think that those of us at the Report should have stuck together earlier. Some co-workers expressed the opinion that I should have taken the Report to the Human Rights Commission and complained about the way I was treated. But that shouldn't have been necessary. After all, a foundation dedicated to promoting good should simply start out by doing good itself. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 10:37 PM