Sun columnist and former MP dies
September 19, 2009
Retired Sun political columnist and television commentator Douglas Fisher died early yesterday.
He would have turned 90 today.
He died “peacefully in his sleep” in Ottawa, his son, Luke, said.
His dad’s ex-wife, Barbara, mother of their five sons, who had “reconciled with him and had begun visiting him in his senior citizen’s home,” was with him.
In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he “was saddened” by the death of Fisher, who “spent his entire life serving his country in different ways.”
Calling the late columnist “a giant of Canadian politics,” Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said he was admired for “his incredible work ethic, his keen appreciation of history and his sparkling intelligence.”
Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski, former editor and later publisher of the Ottawa Sun, called Fisher “the dean of deans in the parliamentary press gallery, a true Canadian icon.
“He will never be topped,” Bonokoski said. “His commentaries during the startup of the Ottawa Sun immediately gave gravitas to its op-ed pages.
“When Doug Fisher entered a room, even Jean Chretien stood up.”
NDP Leader Jack Layton called Fisher “a wise politician who was recognized as one of the best speakers in Parliament during his time there.”
A soldier in the Second World War, Fisher was also a miner, fire ranger, construction worker, bridge guard, and university librarian, then taught high school.
After defeating powerful Liberal cabinet minister C.D. Howe in 1957, he became an MP with the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, forerunner of the NDP.
He was nicknamed “The Giant Killer.”
To supplement his $10,000 yearly salary, Fisher wrote a freelance column for the Toronto Telegram starting in 1961, joining the Toronto Sun when it was launched 10 years later.
“Doug was one of the most important people we had when we started the Sun because he gave us credibility,” columnist and founding editor Peter Worthington said. “The Star wanted him but he stuck with us.”
Fisher also had a political comment show in Ottawa, appeared regularly on CTV’s Question Period, then on the CBC.
Luke said his dad opposed the CCF wooing unions, a marriage that resulted in the NDP’s creation, and quit in 1965.
Afflicted with muscular dystrophy, his last Sun column ran in 2006, with Fisher bemoaning vast changes in government, the growth of power at the Prime Minister’s Office and a focus on party leaders that left the House of Commons “withered almost to insignificance.
“In this century there will be as much opportunity as there was a century ago in the opening up of our west, with the promise of a better society to the fore — if we cultivate our politics sensibly,” he concluded.
He ruled out a funeral, instead urging memories added on his website, www.douglasfisher.ca.
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