Clark Davey, longtime reporter, editor and publisher, dies


OTTAWA — A former publisher of newspapers in Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal and a driving force behind one of the most prestigious journalism awards in Canada has died.

Born in Chatham, Ont., Clark Davey had a long career that took him from local reporting to Parliament Hill and foreign corresponding, and a 15-year-stint as managing editor of the Globe and Mail newspaper.

He served as publisher for the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette, and was a former president and chair of The Canadian Press.

Davey was in the first graduating class of journalism students at Western University in 1948 and began his career at the Chatham Daily News before working at the Northern Daily News in Kirkland Lake and later the Globe and Mail in the early 1950s.

He was at the United Nations in New York during the 1956 crisis over the Suez Canal, and closely covered then foreign-affairs minister Lester B. Pearson’s efforts to create a peacekeeping force to defuse tensions.

One year later, in June 1957, he was one of three reporters with John Diefenbaker on the election night when the Progressive Conservatives won and Dief the Chief learned he would become the country’s next prime minister.

By all accounts, Davey had the respect of anyone he worked with during his decades in journalism.

“Clark was a legendary character in the Canadian newspaper industry,” said former Ottawa Citizen publisher Russell Mills.

Mills called Davey extremely thoughtful, someone who seemed to see a little farther ahead than others.

“He was a mentor to the rest of us who were publishers,” Mills said. “Whenever there was a complex issue or something like that on table … people were usually turning to Clark.”

Davey also cared deeply about journalism itself. When the Ottawa Citizen’s owner CanWest Global Communications Corp. fired Mills in 2002 over the Citizen’s news coverage and editorial lines, Davey helped organize a protest on the steps of the paper he’d once run.

Davey was a founding board member of the Michener Awards Foundation, which annually hands out the award named for former governor general Roland Michener, for outstanding public-service journalism.

In 2009, Davey was given a special lifetime achievement honour by the foundation.

“Clark was a pillar of the Michener Awards Foundation,” said former foundation president David Humphreys. “For several years he was the driving force and the inspiration that made it Canada’s most prestigious honour for investigative journalism.”

The Canadian Press