It’s time to write -30- and thank you for the privilege

Our columnist says he’s had a great run, and some days he wants to continue doing this forever. But it’s time.

For more years than I care to count, I have been professionally — and often personally — “shocked and appalled” on a regular basis about the goings on going on in our world. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to vent my anger with words on paper, virtual and otherwise, instead of just sputtering my frustrations into my morning bowl of Bran Buds.

Since the 1980s, I’ve written weekly or monthly columns for all manner of media no longer among us — Halifax Magazine, Cities Magazine, The Halifax Daily News, the Optipress chain of weekly newspapers, The Daily News again and Metro Halifax — as well as a few outlets, I’m happy to say, that continue to survive and flourish, perhaps in spite of me, like Atlantic Business Magazine and the Halifax Examiner.

Over the years, I’ve quit on principle or been fired for cause, depending on whether you believe me or the Asper family. I’ve had publications shutter their doors while I was writing a “brilliant” column that never saw the light of day. (Trust me on that.) And I’ve been invited for coffee by editors who informed me their bosses “had decided to go in a different direction,” and so, they no longer required my columns. But thank you for your service.

I’ve had a great run. Some days, I want to keep doing this forever. But it’s time.

I reached out to Examiner Editor Tim Bousquet early in January — “Wondering if you have time for a coffee in the next few weeks?” — but then he tested positive for COVID and, well, then this, and then that… we didn’t meet until early February.

In the meanwhile, I kept trying to write one “last” goodbye column, but every week, it seemed there was something more, and even more outrageous to be shocked and appalled about:

And don’t get me started on even more recent events — the provincial government’s unilateral decision to impose a funding “agreement” on provincial universities; Tory Premier Houston’s “unfortunate” oopsy … “poor choice of words” in describing an historic record snowfall in Cape Breton as a “PR issue;” provincial Liberal leader Zach Churchill’s pretend promise (elect him and see) to cut the HST… and, well, choose your own reason to be shocked and appalled.

Rick Howe, the late, great radio talk show host, had it exactly right. “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

But I regress. Again.

It’s time.

There are other stories I want to tell. A couple of novels I still want to write. And then there’s still teaching.

It’s time.

I’ve had a great run. I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to express my opinions in public and lucky to work with many great editors and publications, including, most recently, Tim and the crew at the Examiner.

That began in the depths of the autumn of 2016. I’d just had my “thank you for your service, goodbye and good luck” coffee with the editor of Metro Halifaxthe weekday giveaway tabloid that would itself disappear three years later.

A few hours after my final column appeared, Tim contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in writing for the Examiner.

I was.

It wasn’t time. I wasn’t ready to stop. Not then.

More importantly, I’d long been a fan of Tim’s work, first his take-no-prisoners, topple-a-mayor investigative work as news editor for The Coast and then, for the previous two years, as the owner, editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner, his self-described “independent, adversarial news site devoted to holding the powerful accountable.”

Tim has walked that talk, and given me and others the freedom and encouragement to do the same.

Seven years and 350 columns later, it is now time.

Thank you for reading.



A version of this column originally appeared in the Halifax Examiner

To read the Examiner, please subscribe.

  1. Dear Stephen, you have been an inspiration and mentor to thousands ofwriters and journalists with roots in Atlantic Canada and beyond. Thank you for all you’ve done for sharing the stories that inspire and keeping the decision makers on their toes. Time to pass the torch to the next generation of investigative reporters and editorialists you have schooled over the years. There is a life beyond writing. Make the most of it. I will miss stumbling upon links to your posts on Linked In and Twitter (X)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *