Reporting the Nation's Business: Press-Government Relations During the Liberal Years, 1935-1957


250 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-2977-9
DDC 070.4'08'8328




H. Graham Rawlinson is a Ph.D. candidate in historyat York University
and a historical research consultant.


The more than two decades of unbroken Liberal party rule in Ottawa that
this book describes have been a rich hunting ground for Canada’s
political historians. Politicians, parties, bureaucrats, and the war
that dominated the lives of an entire generation have each come under
scrutiny. This book offers a needed addition to the existing literature
in detailing the remarkably close relations between several leading
journalists and the government. Brennan focuses his discussion on five
members of the press: Grant Dexter, Ken Wilson, Bruce Hutchison, George
Ferguson, and Blair Fraser. Each wrote for a Canadian newspaper or
magazine, and each in his time was considered an influential commentator
on national affairs. A fateful conjunction of circumstances, however,
made their reporting almost always highly favorable to the governing

The rise of the national bureaucratic state was crucial in this regard.
World War II entrenched the power of several key Ottawa bureaucrats
whose nationalist, progressive perspective meshed neatly with that of
journalists who believed Canada’s future depended on civil-servant
expertise. Although careful not to exaggerate the influence that these
reporters had on public opinion, Brennan argues that a kind of symbiosis
emerged, under which politicians, civil servants, and journalists
cooperated to an astonishing extent to keep the Canadian state (i.e.,
the Liberal party) on course in a rapidly changing world. The author’s
solid research and sensible arguments make this book essential reading
for those looking for a full examination of the years of Liberal
hegemony in Ottawa.


Brennan, Patrick H., “Reporting the Nation's Business: Press-Government Relations During the Liberal Years, 1935-1957,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,