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John Ward Congratulations on Retirement

Honourable senators, I rise today to honour the work of John Ward. John has been in the news business for almost half a century — 48 years to be exact — with the Canadian Press. He is CP’s longest-serving employee.

John retires at the end of the month. Even when he was hired by CP in June 1970 as a summer relief messenger, John may have had that look of a newspaper man of long ago, but he was only making $49 a week. He wasn’t in the movie, The Front Page, but John Ward has played many roles in the newspaper business over the last 48 years. In fact — and I think this is from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! — John Ward sat right up there in the gallery when a news service actually covered the Senate every day. He has been on the Hill for 30 years. Known as “the Professor” in the news business, it seems that John covered every Ottawa beat. According to his wife, all John ever wanted to do was work for CP. And did he ever work: Toronto; London, Ontario; New York at the UN; Edmonton; and then back to the Ottawa bureau.

When he arrived on the Hill in 1970, his dad Ben Ward was working at CP. For a time, John was known as Ben’s son. In fact, when I arrived in Ottawa two years later in 1972, I got to know Ben before meeting John.

I always felt comfortable with the Wards because we could always see eye to eye, if you know what I mean. John Ward’s accomplishments were many. He covered 30 budgets, numerous federal elections, elections in six provinces, the United Nations, the war zones of Bosnia and Somalia, special occasions such as the visits of the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles. There were a number of National Newspaper Award nominations, and he won two of them. But he didn’t win these awards for recognition. He just loved to write and to get the story right.

In the early days of CP, there were no personal bylines, just a CP byline, but it seems you could always know when a story had John’s touch. Whether it was the murder trials of the rich and not so famous, Stanley Cups, a Grey Cup, Olympic Games, Edmonton tornado, Hinton, Alberta, train wreck or the tragedy of Swiss Air Flight 111, John Ward wrote crisp, clean copy. He never got in the way of the story. He just wrote it.

Colleagues and friends will be honouring John at a local drinking establishment next week. This is the headline: On June 28, 1970, Elvis Presley and the Beatles were still topping the billboard charts, the legal voting age in Canada had just been lowered to 18 from 21, and a teenaged John Ward was setting foot for the first time in a Canadian Press newsroom.

Honourable senators, to know John Ward is to love him. His new nickname will be “Professor Emeritus.” Thank you, John, for telling us the everyday story over the last half century. Honourable senators, I give you John Ward.


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