Jonathan Kay

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Jonathan Kay
Jonathan Kay Canadian Journalist Smaller File.jpg
Jonathan Hillel Kay

1968 (age 54–55)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
EducationMcGill University (BEng, MEng)
Yale University (JD)
SpouseJennifer Good

Jonathan Hillel Kay (born 1968) is a Canadian journalist. He was the editor-in-chief of The Walrus (2014–2017), and is a senior editor of Quillette.[1] He was previously comment pages editor, columnist, and blogger for the Toronto-based Canadian daily newspaper National Post, and continues to contribute to the newspaper on a freelance basis. He is also a book author and editor, a public speaker, and a regular contributor to Commentary[2] and the New York Post.

Early life[edit]

Jonathan Kay was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, to an anglophone Jewish family. His mother is the socially conservative newspaper columnist Barbara Kay. His father worked in finance and was the breadwinner of the family.[3] He attended Selwyn House School,[4] and Marianopolis College before obtaining a BEng and an MEng[5] in metallurgical engineering from McGill University and a law degree from Yale Law School. He is a member of the New York bar. After practicing as a tax lawyer in New York City, Kay moved to Toronto, where, in 1998, he became a founding member of the National Post editorial board. Kay describes himself as an avid tennis and board game enthusiast, and sometimes has incorporated his passion for both pursuits into his journalism.[6]


Kay joined the National Post at its inception, in 1998, as a member of its editorial board, subsequently becoming the newspaper's Comment editor as well as a columnist. He left the newspaper's staff in 2014 but continues appearing in its pages as a freelance columnist.

Apart from his editorial work, Kay has also written two non-fiction books. In 2007, Kay co-authored The Volunteer, a biography of Mossad officer Michael Ross. In May 2011, HarperCollins published Kay's second book, Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground (ISBN 978-0-06-200481-9).[7] The book reflects Kay's interest in the psychology of conspiracy theorists.

Kay was a freelance editorial assistant on Liberal Party of Canada leader Justin Trudeau's memoir Common Ground published by HarperCollins with duties that included conducting some of the interviews with Trudeau that were used for the book. After the resignation of Trudeau's principal secretary Gerald Butts due to his role in the SNC-Lavalin affair, Kay revealed that Butts worked with him for the book.[8] His participation in the project was criticized by conservatives in social media as well as by Sun News Network personality Ezra Levant, on whose 2009 book Shakedown Kay also worked on as an editorial assistant.[9]

His freelance articles have been published in a variety of US publications including Newsweek,[10] The New Yorker,[11],[12] The New Republic,[13] Harper's Magazine,[14] the Los Angeles Times,[15] The Weekly Standard,[16] the Literary Review of Canada,[17] The National Interest[18] and The New York Times.[19]

Since May 2018, Kay also hosted Quillette's Wrongspeak podcast, along with Debra W. Soh[20] until she quit at the end of first series of episodes (2018).[21] From February 2019, Jonathan continued to present the podcast throughout the year. Wrongspeak has been announced as "on hiatus" ever since December 30, 2019 as the last podcast featured Jonathan Kay's mother, Barbara Kay.[21]

The Walrus[edit]

Kay was named editor-in-chief of The Walrus, a Canadian general interest magazine, on October 29, 2014.[22] Kay left the Post on November 21, 2014, but continued to contribute opinion pieces on a freelance basis.[23]

He resigned as editor-in-chief of The Walrus on May 13, 2017, following a controversy around cultural appropriation in which Kay argued that concerns by Indigenous writers about the practice should be balanced against the right to free artistic representation.[24][25] Kay said the reason he left was because of conflicts between his role as a manager at a respected media brand and as a columnist and media panelist in which he would state controversial opinions and that he had felt the need to self-censor his byline pieces and commentary outside of The Walrus. "In recent months especially, I have been censoring myself more and more, and my colleagues have sometimes been rightly upset by disruptions caused by my media appearances. Something had to give, and I decided to make the first move. I took no severance," he said in an email written to The Globe and Mail. Kay added that there had been no conflict between himself and the publisher of The Walrus and that he had been given a free hand to edit the magazine and its website and that the pressure he had felt to self-censor was in relation to his non-Walrus work.[26][27]

Published books[edit]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2002, he was awarded Canada's National Newspaper Award for Critical Writing. In 2004, he was awarded a National Newspaper Award for Editorial Writing.[28] He is currently a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.[29]


  1. ^ McDermott, John (November 2, 2019). "Those People We Tried to Cancel? They're All Hanging Out Together". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Kay, Jonathan (June 2003). "The Scandal of 'Diversity': At Yale Law School, as everywhere else in higher education, racial preferences exact their insidious and damaging price". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  3. ^ "Guilty Memories from an Anglo Montreal Childhood". The Walrus. December 15, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  4. ^ Selwyn House School Yearbook 1985
  5. ^ "eScholarship@McGill – Results – Full". August 20, 1996. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "Among the Truthers". Among the Truthers. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  8. ^ "Everybody Loves Butts!". February 19, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "Jonathan Kay: An editor's note regarding my work for HarperCollins on 'Common Ground'". National Post. October 21, 2014. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  10. ^ Staff (February 8, 2010). "Tea Party Movement Is Full of Conspiracy Theories". Newsweek. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  11. ^ "Dec. 8: Jonathan Kay to deliver F.R. Scott Lecture". McGill Reporter. November 18, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  12. ^ Kay, Jonathan (June 30, 2001). "Gay 'Trek'". Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  13. ^ Kay, Jonathan (April 11, 2010). "Hot Shots". The New Republic. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  14. ^ Kay, Jonathan (September 2001). "The republic of Texas". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  15. ^ Kay, Jonathan (January 30, 2002). "Watching Her Go From a Doll to a Rock to a Bomb". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Weekly Standard". March 14, 2005. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  17. ^ Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks (December 1, 2010). "The Literary Review of Canada". Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  18. ^ "The National Interest". October 3, 2001. Archived from the original on December 15, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  19. ^ Kay, Jonathan (January 3, 2002). "The New York Times". Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  20. ^ Herzog, Katie (May 31, 2018). "Wrongspeak Is a Safe Space for Dangerous Ideas". The Stranger. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Kay, Jonathan (December 30, 2019). "Wrongspeak #17 - The Family Business with Barbara Kay". Retrieved December 6, 2022. As the Wrongspeak podcast hits pause and we say goodbye to Debra, Jon interviews his mother Barbara Kay for the first time. (...) Thank you to Dr. Debra Soh for her invaluable contribution to our first series of episodes and to our producers at TNKR Media.
  22. ^ "The Walrus names Jonathan Kay new editor-in-chief". Globe and Mail. No. October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  23. ^ "Jonathan Kay: My life at the National Post, and why I'll miss it". News.nationalpost.ocm.
  24. ^ "Jonathan Kay out at The Walrus". May 14, 2017.
  25. ^ Mendleson, Rachel (May 14, 2017). "Jonathan Kay resigns as editor of The Walrus amid 'appropriation prize' backlash". Toronto Star.
  26. ^ "Walrus editor Jonathan Kay quits amid free speech uproar: 'I have been censoring myself more and more'". May 15, 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  27. ^ "Jonathan Kay resigns as editor of The Walrus amid cultural appropriation controversy". The Globe and Mail.
  28. ^ "Jonathan Kay". July 25, 2011. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011.
  29. ^ "2012 Speakers - Foundation for Defense of Democracies". Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2017.

External links[edit]