It is with great sadness that I sit to write my editorial for this issue. Upon arriving at work this morning, I was greeted with an e-mail message from a journalist colleague in Quebec notifying me that Mike King, our correspondent in Montreal, had passed away over the weekend from a brain aneurysm. He was 51.
I had met Mike only once while in Montreal for a legal technology conference last year, but he had been writing for Canadian Lawyer for years bringing our readers the stories of the people and events in the never-dull Quebec legal scene. He was an editor’s dream: he always had great story ideas; was flexible and able to accommodate all types of requests; filed his stories on time and if he couldn’t he made sure you knew why; and his copy was well written and rarely required much editing. It could be due to his 22 years as a daily newspaper reporter at the Montreal Gazette and before that at a variety of other papers around the country, but even that experience doesn’t always translate into easy-to-work-with or good writers.
Mike was a great writer who had a way of really bringing characters to life even when faced with closed-mouthed sources and difficult subjects. It was one such story, about Louis Pasquin, the first lawyer in Canada found guilty of gangsterism, that Mike struggled with. No one was really willing to talk about the case, and he was forced to write it from various outside and non-attributable sources and court documents. After much digging and lots of tinkering with the content, we got ourselves a story that told a fascinating tale of Pasquin, whom Mike described in the July 2009 Canadian Lawyer cover story “Gangsta rap” as “no stranger to drug dealers or major police probes as a well-known defender of bikers and mobsters from the Hells Angels to the Montreal Mafia’s notorious Cotroni clan.”
To end on a positive note, Mike’s story went on to win a KRW Award for best news coverage at the annual Canadian business press awards at the beginning of June. His wife Christine Kupka told me he lit up when he heard he’d won. It’s a great achievement for Canadian Lawyer and a great honour for a great journalist.
Our columnist Philip Slayton was another KRW silver award winner this year for his Legal Ethics column. KRW honourable mentions went to the always colourful Ezra Levant for his Back Page column; former staff writer Glenn Kauth, who now edits Law Times, for his story “Big BD” and a profile of Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart; and writer Paul Brent for his wrap-up on the legal aspects of the auto bailouts in the August 2009 cover story “Assembly line.”