Michael Harris (journalist)

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Michael Harris
Michael Harris speaking at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener
Michael Harris at the Registry Theatre, April 2015
Born Michael Terry Harris
Occupation writer, journalist, author, documentary filmmaker
Language English
Nationality Canadian
Citizenship Canada
Alma mater York University
Subjects Canadian Politics, abuse of power, government malfeasance, democracy

Michael Harris (born 1948) is a Canadian investigative journalist, radio personality, documentary filmmaker, novelist, iPolitics columnist and the award-winning author of nine books.[1]

Born in Toronto, Ontario, to Audrey McDonald (née Tilley) and James McDonald, Harris is a graduate of York University in Toronto, and was a Woodrow Wilson Scholar (University College in Dublin, Ireland). His work has sparked four Royal Commissions of Inquiry.

Harris went to Newfoundland in 1977, as a story editor for CBC Television owned-and-operated station CBNT's newscast Here and Now, before becoming the founding publisher and editor-in-chief of The Sunday Express [2] in St. John's. There he broke the Mount Cashel orphanage abuse story and the Sprung Greenhouse boondoggle. Later he went on to become the Executive Director of News and Current Affairs for the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland, then owner of the local CTV Television Network affiliate CJON (NTV).

Harris was at one time a Queen's Park correspondent for the National Post, the Globe and Mail as Atlantic Bureau Chief and later a senior parliamentary correspondent in Ottawa.[1]

In Ottawa Harris hosted an afternoon radio talk show, Michael Harris Live, on Ottawa-based CFRA, and was a columnist for The Ottawa Sun newspaper until March 2011.[3][4] Michael Harris Live on CFRA Ottawa was cancelled February 9, 2012.[5] He is now a columnist for the website iPolitics.

His book 1986 book Justice Denied: The Law Versus Donald Marshall led to the Royal Commission on Donald Marshall, Jr.’s wrongful conviction. His investigative journalism culminating in the book Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel, triggered the Hughes Inquiry into the allegations of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage. Harris also authored Rare Ambition: The Crosbies of Newfoundland, Con Game: The Truth About Canada’s Prisons and the national best seller Lament for an Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery. The executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada called it "The definitive book on the cod catastrophe... After reading this book, you wouldn’t trust the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with your aquarium" (cited on back jacket cover). His 1976 novel "Outrider on Yonge Street" was never published.[6]

Harris, who is married and has two daughters, hosts Ottawa's annual "Alzheimers Flame of Hope Golf Tournament" (his mother who died in 2009 suffered from the disease), and divides his time between his homes in Ottawa, Ontario and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. He was the visiting Irving Chair in Journalism at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick.[7]



  • Justice denied: The law versus Donald Marshall (1986)
  • Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel (1990)
  • Rare Ambition (1993)
  • The Prodigal Husband: the Tragedy of Helmuth and Hanna Buxbaum (1994)
  • The Judas Kiss: The Undercover Life of Patrick Kelly (1996)
  • Lament for an Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery (1998)
  • Con Game: The Truth About Canada's Prisons (2003)
  • Party of One: Stephen Harper And Canada's Radical Makeover (2014)


  • Unholy Orders" (based on the book)
  • Vanishing Point (based on Lament for an Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery)
  • Murder, Most Likely (based on The Judas Kiss: The Undercover Life of Patrick Kelly (1999)

Awards and Honours[edit]


  • Unholy Orders: the Tragedy at Mount Cashel received the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters' Book of the Year award.
  • Rare Ambition: the Crosbies of Newfoundland was the 1994 winner of the TORGI Talking Book of the Year.,[8] the Foundation for The Advancement of Canadian Letters Book of the Year Award and the 1989[8]
  • The Prodigal Husband: the Tragedy of Helmuth and Hanna Buxbaum won the 1995 Arthur Ellis Awards / Prix Arthur Ellis prize for the best true crime book in Canada[9]
  • Lament for an Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery was short listed for[10]
  • Forest For Christmas won the 2014 Amazon.ca First Novel Award


Michael Harris was awarded a Doctor of Laws by the Memorial University of Newfoundland for his “unceasing pursuit of justice for the less fortunate among us.”[11]

He was the visiting Irving Chair in Journalism at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Penguin Random House Canada Author Biography". 
  2. ^ "Memorial University of Newfoundland's Historical Directory of Newfoundland and Labrador Newspapers - S". Retrieved May 27, 2015. 
  3. ^ 580 CFRA News Talk Radio. Cfra.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
  4. ^ Robertson, Marjorie. (April 27, 2011) Criticize Harper, get fired from the Ottawa Sun. rabble.ca. Retrieved on 2011-09-23.
  5. ^ "Courageous Canadian journalist fired for criticism of Israel". 
  6. ^ "CFRA Radio Talk Show with Michael Harris @ 3:35 pm NB time". Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  7. ^ "St. Thomas University Names Michael Harris Irving Chair in Journalism". Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "CNIB Produced Non-Fiction". Retrieved May 27, 2015.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "MUN_Literary_Awards_in_Canada_1923-2000" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  9. ^ "NArthur Ellis Awards / Prix Arthur Ellis". MUN Literary Awards. Retrieved May 27, 2015. 
  10. ^ "the Donner Prize". Retrieved May 27, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Michael Harris ipolitics profile". Retrieved May 27, 2015. 
  12. ^ Kimber, Stephen (April 1, 1989). "No News Is Good News in Nova Scotia". Ryerson Review of Journalism. Retrieved May 27, 2015. 

External links[edit]