Bonus Features: “Knocking out that rag is my only passion”

Before diving into this post, read my TVO article on the Star and the Charitable Gifts Act.

Warning: there’s a lot of material in this one, as so much ink was spilled in the press concerning the Charitable Gifts Act (CGA). What I’m presenting here is a tiny fraction of the coverage. At the peak of the controversy, a quarter of the Star‘s pages (averaging around 56 pages an edition) mentioned the CGA.

Due to COVID-related closures, I was unable to check the Telegram‘s coverage. As the Globe and Mail remained closer to George McCullagh’s heart, I imagine the Tely‘s coverage wasn’t much different, other than using language better suited for the paper’s audience.

star 1948-05-10 atkinson death front page 640

Toronto Star, May 10, 1948.

star 1948-05-10 atkinson foundation

Toronto Star, May 10, 1948.

star 1947-07-14 tely for sale

Toronto Star, July 14, 1947.

Let’s step back a few months, to the news that the Telegram, which had been administered by trustees since founder John Ross Robertson’s death in 1918. Throughout the Charitable Gifts Act saga, politicians and the press wondered why the arrangements surrounding the Tely and the Hospital for Sick Children had not been questioned.

tely 1948-12-01 front page mccullagh note

The Telegram, December 1, 1948.

A front page message from George McCullagh after he bought the Telegram. One can quibble about the claims of political independence, given McCullagh’s strong ties with George Drew and other Progressive Conservatives. Still, he modernized the paper, bringing it into the postwar era by gradually lessening its strong British flavour (the Union Jack soon vanished from the masthead) and bringing in a new generation of talented writers and editors.

honolulu star-bulletin 1949-01-08 mccullagh's hatred of the star

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 8, 1949.

McCullagh’s dislike for the the Star made it into the North American wire services, with this story spreading as far as Hawaii.

star 1949-03-26 cga 1

Toronto Star, March 26, 1949.

The first of many front-page Star editorials on the CGA and its potential effects.

gm 1949-03-28 editorial on protecting ontario charities

Globe and Mail, March 28, 1949. 

star 1949-03-30 dennison and temple

Toronto Star, March 30, 1949.

A few words about who was serving at Queen’s Park at the time. The result of the June 1948 provincial election was 53 PC, 21 CCF, 14 Liberal, and 2 LPP (Labor-Progressive Party, the legally acceptable name of the Communists). Though his party won, Premier George Drew lost 13 seats compared to 1945, including his own. He was vanquished by one of the men seen here, William “Temperance Bill” Temple. Drew handed the premiership over to veteran Peel MPP Thomas Laird Kennedy, who would serve as interim leader until the PCs voted for a permanent replacement on April 27, 1949.

Besides Temple, the CCF caucus of 1949 was an interesting mix of MPPs. Among them:

  • William Dennison (St. David), a speech therapist who served as Toronto’s mayor from 1966 to 1972.
  • Agnes Macphail (York East), elected as Canada’s first female federal MP in 1921. She had switched to provincial politics earlier in the decade.
  • C.H. Millard (York West), who was the United Auto Workers local president during the Oshawa GM strike in 1937, beginning a career which shaped trade union activism in Ontario.
  • Reid Scott(Beaches), who, at 21, was the youngest person elected to the Ontario legislature until Sam Oosterhoff in 2016. He later served the public as a city councillor, judge, and federal MP. When he died in 2016, he was the last surviving member of the parliamentary committee who chose the current Canadian flag.

star 1949-03-30 charities bill editorial cartoon

Cartoon by Les Callan, Toronto Star, March 30, 1949.

oj 1949-03-30 editorial 250px

Ottawa Journal, March 30, 1949.

The Ottawa Journal was among the conservative papers who disagreed with the bill.

gm 1949-03-31 bill assists charities 1

Globe and Mail, March 31, 1949.

A front page editorial where the G&M takes the high ground in paragraph one, then resorts to name calling in paragraph two. But then with a title like “Pay Up and Shut Up,” could you really expect less?

oj 1949-03-31 kennedy statement

Ottawa Journal, March 31, 1949.

Premier Kennedy’s thoughts on the bill. Apart from a three-year break following the Liberal landslide of 1934, Kennedy served as an MPP for Peel from 1919 to 1959. He served as minister of agriculture under four premiers, and retained the portfolio during his interim premiership. His name lives on via a Mississauga secondary school and two major roads in Peel Region (Kennedy Road and Tomken Road).

ws 1949-04-01 editorial

Windsor Star, April 1, 1949.

gm 1949-04-01 editorial cartoon

Cartoon by Jack Booth, Globe and Mail, April 1, 1949. 

The G&M‘s cartoon following CCF leader Ted Jolliffe’s filibuster (which, if you have access to the online archives of the G&M and the Star, you can read lengthy excerpts printed in each paper). The man in the dumpster at the back is federal CCF leader M.J. Coldwell. Pro-CGA coverage accused Jolliffe of defending the Star in order to lure the paper away from its traditional support of the provincial Liberals.

oc 1949-04-01 destroying a newspaper editorial 400px

Ottawa Citizen, April 1, 1949.

star 1949-04-02 charities bill editorial cartoon

Cartoon by Les Callan, Toronto Star, April 2, 1949. 

fp 1949-04-02 editorial 350px

Financial Post, April 2, 1949.

The Financial Post also reported on the potential effects of the original bill on charities and foundations, including the University of Toronto (with its interests in Connaught Laboratories and University of Toronto Press) and the Royal Conservatory of Music (which ran music publisher Frederick Harris).

star 1949-04-06 agnes macphail on bill

Toronto Star, April 6, 1949.

Agnes Macphail’s feelings about the CGA, along with a guest appearance by former premier Harry Nixon (also not a fan of the legislation).

star 1949-04-06 tory

Toronto Star, April 6, 1949.

Was John S.D. Tory (grandfather of the current Toronto mayor) an advisor on the CGA…

gm 1949-04-07 ccf filibuster john tory

Globe and Mail, April 7, 1949.

…or not?

ws 1949-04-06 editorial

Windsor Star, April 6, 1949.

cc 1949-04-07 anti cga editorial

Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), April 7, 1949.

newmarket era 1949-04-07 anti cga editorial

Newmarket Era and Express, April 7, 1949.

Excerpts of pro-CGA editorials from papers of all sizes and publishing frequency were reprinted in the Star.

kingsville reporter 1949-04-07 pro cga editorial

Kingsville Reporter,  April 7, 1949.

stouffville tribune 1949-04-07 pro cga editorial

Stouffville Tribune, April 7, 1949.

A pair of small-town pro-CGA editorials. Of the larger papers in the province, the G&M published a supportive editorial from the Hamilton Spectator. I wonder what the London Free Press‘s take was, as its name never came up in anyone’s coverage.

gm 1949-04-07 anti-jolliffe editorial slam

Globe and Mail, April 7, 1949.

The shortest CGA-related editorial, and a fine example of the snark that enveloped everyone.

star 1949-04-07 front page editorial

Toronto Star, April 7, 1949.

The Star‘s front page editorial the day after the CGA passed. This sums up several other articles which had run in the paper over the previous week.

star 1949-04-07 mccullagh and time

Toronto Star, April 7, 1949.

McCullagh’s interview appears to have been in the Canadian version of Time – it’s not in the April 11, 1949 cover dated American edition.

gm 1949-04-08 editorialGlobe and Mail, April 8, 1949. 

star 1949-06-23 drew and mccullagh and newspapers 1

star 1949-06-23 drew and mccullagh and newspapers 2

Toronto Star, June 23, 1949.

How the Star and McCullagh’s papers covered the 1949 federal election is worthy of a post of its own, if only to show the depths both went to sling mud at each other. Drew fared poorly in his first election as federal PC leader, as their seat count dropped from 65 in 1945 to 41. In Ontario, their count dropped from 48 to 25.

star 1958-03-26 front page

Toronto Star, March 26, 1958.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s