Open Letter: An Apology to Sheila Copps and the Bright Future of the National Press Club
In this letter I want to offer my sincerest apology to Sheila Copps, the President of the National Press Club, for comments made in my open letter to the members and directors of the NPC two weeks ago.
For those of you who read the letter, you will recall that I was deeply concerned about governance issues at the NPC and especially about the relationship between the executive committee and the rest of the board of directors.
At the same time, however, I realize that while my intentions were good, and the stakes important, I cast the net of my criticism too wide. Moreover, some additional facts have been brought to my attention that require that I set the record straight in terms of some of the points raised in the letter.
The most important of these matters relates to Sheila Copps, the President of the NPC. Since my letter, several people have reminded me that long before she established herself as a formidable force on the Canadian political scene, Sheila made a mark for herself as a journalist. I agree. She worked as a journalist for the Hamilton Spectator and the Ottawa Citizen before her political career took off and again as a columnist, at various times, for the National Post, Toronto Sun and other newspapers since leaving Parliament in 2004.
Regrettably, I did not delve into her background, and as a result let her role as a leading Parliamentarian and political figure in the past eclipse her past and current status as a journalist. I should not have and for this I apologize. Befitting the position of president of the NPC, Sheila has lent her formidable skills to the organization at a turning point in its history and has, like all members on the executive committee and board of directors, done so in good faith, voluntarily and without pay of any kind.
Several important steps have been taken in recent days to consider, among other things, the governance concerns that I outlined in my letter. A new committee has been struck to thoroughly review the rules and procedures that will guide the NPC into the future. The NPC co-hosted an event featuring the award-winning U.S. journalist and Wikileaks chronicler, Glenn Greenwald, this past week.
The NPC is now regaining its footing as a central institution in the practice of journalism and public life in Canada. In addition to Ms. Copps, the board of directors now boasts amidst its ranks a senior national journalist, a film producer, another who serves as the NPC’s institutional memory, an artist, a television reporter, a diplomatic statesman, a good financial manager, an academic and a few other talented people.
With these people and the recent steps taken, the NPC has turned a corner and the future of the organization is bright. In the next few months, further renewal will occur as a few spots on the board of directors that have recently opened up will be filled by election. For journalists, media practitioners or anybody else who wants to help chart the NPC’s role at the heart of journalism and public affairs in Canada, now is a great time to step forward.
All-in-all, I hope that this sincere apology to Sheila Copps and any other member of the board of directors who may have felt besmirched by my open letter will help to assuage hurt feelings. I also hope that it reinforces our ability to work hand-in-hand for common goals.