The Fifth Estate at Queen’s Park

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We were lucky enough last week to also meet with Toronto Star Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Robert Benzie. It was easy to see how Robert got to the prominent position in the political press that he currently occupies: the man has boundless energy. Even at the late hour (our last meeting of the day), Mr. Benzie enlivened the room immediately, giving a short but impassioned speech on the importance of provincial politics. Whether it’s road works, education, or health care, the goings-on at the Ontario Legislature are of great consequence to Ontarians (which is why, Robert reminded us, the Star has more staff dedicated to it than any other major newspaper).

Robert gave us a brief rundown of his career background, which was very helpful for those of us interested in a career in journalism. He also told us something we already suspected; that there was never a dull day at the Pink Palace. Whether it was the drama of the recent provincial election, the controversy involving digital media access to the Legislature Press Gallery, or the sale of the lottery by the OLG, we had no shortage of current events to discuss and Robert had no shortage of great insights to give us.

Finally, one thing that was a great pleasure to see given all the mudslinging politicians are usually subjected to in the popular press was Mr. Benzie’s reverence and respect for our elected MPPs. Whether extolling their long work days, their forbearance of more lucrative private sector prospects in the name of public service, or their generally good characters, it was a pleasure to meet such an uncynical political commentator.

The 2014-2015 OLIP interns had a fantastic time chatting with Robert Benzie, and would like to extend our gratitude to him for making time for us on what was doubtlessly another busy news day at Queen’s Park!

– Justin

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