Prophetic Word on the Street

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Haroon Siddiqui

Canada’s largest love in for books celebrated its 20th anniversary this past Sunday.

The Word on the Street, a cultural phenomenon welcomed thousand of bibliophiles to the historic Queen’s Park where we luxuriated in the spoken and printed word.

To me the best tent was sponsored by the country’s largest newspaper the Star, one of the last independent voices in journalism. Having survived Robert Pritchard’ s dismal tenure, the paper has maintained its original mandate of the Hindmarsh family’s engaged Methodist faith:” afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

In this day and age when papers are struggling to figure out the impact of the Internet, the paper still does serious in depth investigations. All day at The Word at one hour intervals their ace reporters and columnists interacted with the public.

If there was a star it was their fearless columnist Haroon Siddiqui.

His opening gambit set the tone: “Journalism failed in the Iraq war.”

But Siddiqui was one of the few who did not. After expressing his sympathy immediately after 9/11 he immediately went deeper.

He ridiculed the pretext for this abominable war and just before our PM made “the greatest foreign policy decision in the post war period'(Siddiqui)—rejection of a conflict role in Bush’s disastrous war.

When hacks like Dan Rather were lining up behind Bush (“Just tell me where to stand and I am with you” the supposed journalist said on Letterman.

Siddiqui said after his column he received 800 emails—650 supporting him.

Then on the next Saturday morning he received a call from Prime Minister Chretien who asked him what he should tell Bush when he was to meet him in 2 days. Siddiqui told him and Chretien said that that’s what people in the cities were telling him—but not Stephen Harper, Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.

While the major papers of power and influence, the Washington Post and the New York Times later issued apologies for their lamentable coverage, Siddiqui and the Star never had to.

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