It quickly became evident after my second illegal firing by the (Montreal) Gazette in late 1981, that neither future Toronto Star Editor Michael Cooke nor Mel Morris nor the Gazette nor Southam Inc. nor the Brit-dominated power clique at the Toronto Star would be satisfied simply with my departure from the Gazette.
Cooke inspired his co-conspirators both with his false allegations about me as a political hazard and with his false tawdry tales about my personal character to help him destroy my professional career and my livelihood.
The day after my second dismissal, I began calling other Canadian newspapers in quest of a new job. And the response I got was astounding.
I had never before had difficulty finding employment in my chosen profession. Now, suddenly, nobody would even talk to me.
One notable exception was the Hamilton Spectator, another large Southam daily at the time and now a Toronto Star subsidiary. The Spectator’s managing editor invited me to come to Hamilton for a tryout as a copy editor.
I traveled to Hamilton and showed up at the Spectator at the appointed time.
But instead of the Managing Editor it was his boss, the Editor, (I can’t recall whether the Brit’s name was Geoffrey Stevens or Geoffrey Stevenson), who greeted me upon my arrival.
He invited me into his office and told me flat out: “I don’t have a job for your and even if I had a hundred openings I wouldn’t have a job for you.” I asked him why that was. He replied: “You know why. You worked at the Gazette, didn’t you?” I confirmed that I had and he continued: “I think you should know there isn’t a newspaper in this country that will hire you now.”
In the coming days and weeks I learned that that was truly the case. So I decided to restructure the shell corporation I had formed to launch a weekly sports tabloid into a publishing consultancy.
My first client was The Las Vegas Sun, which hired me to redesign the fabled broadsheet. When the redesign was completed, I was offered the permanent position of Assistant Managing Editor.
It was agreed that we would have to address my U.S. employment status. The Sun proposed to sponsor me as an immigrant “on the basis of exceptional talent.”
Toward that end, however, The Sun wanted to assemble some testimonials from past Canadian newspaper employers and Publisher Mike Callahan (a former Democratic governor of Nevada) asked me if he could contact some of my past employers.
The next day, Callahan summoned me to his office. He told me: “I’ve spoken to the managing editor of the Toronto Star and the publisher of the Edmonton Journal. I think we’re distant relatives. (The Journal’s publisher was J.P. O’Callahan.) We had a nice chat and I’m afraid I’m going to have to let you go.”
Callahan confirmed that his decision was based on “information I received from these two gentlemen.” But he would not tell me what that information was.
A short time later I began a probationary job as a copy editor on the foreign desk of The New York Times News Service. The tryout had been arranged by Dick Long, a former editing colleague at the National Enquirer (Weekly World News) and a former Times staffer.
I was very upfront about my lack of legal status to work in the U.S. The Times agreed to employ me under the table during my probation but insisted my immigration status would have to be addressed before I could be formally employed.
Toward the end of that probationary period I was asked to assemble a small file of letters of recommendation from former Canadian employers, again for the purpose of getting me a Green Card “on the basis of exceptional talent.”
I contacted many of my former employers and made the request. Not one would agree to send such a letter even though I had left most of my previous positions on good terms.
When I advised my supervisor at The Times that I was unable to assemble the file, he politely suggested that it would be extremely difficult for the newspaper to place an illegal alien on permanent staff and it was reluctantly agreed that I would leave.
I made one final attempt to secure appropriate employment in the U.S.
The Boston Herald engaged my services as a publishing consultant to assist in the tabloid’s redesign and to train a group of veteran editors in tabloid editing and layout.
When that assignment ended, Editor Joe Rabinowitz asked me to join the paper on a permanent basis and offered me the editorial management position of Chief Editorial Production Co-ordinator. It was the Number Three job in The Boston Herald’s newsroom.
But once again I was asked to assemble some letters of reference from past Canadian employers, with a view to The Herald securing me a Green Card, again “on the basis of exceptional talent.”
Again I contacted several past bosses and requested the letters.
About three weeks later, Rabinowitz mentioned to me that he had still not received any of the letters.
The next morning, however, Rabinowitz came into the office about mid-morning and stopped by my desk to show me an Edmonton Journal letterhead among his daily mail.
Twenty minutes later Rabinowitz called me to his office and asked me to close the door. When I sat down he told me: “I’m afraid I’m going to have to rescind my job offer.” I asked him why. He declined to respond. I asked him if it had anything to do with the letter from the Edmonton Journal. He confirmed that it had. But he steadfastly refused to show me the letter or discuss its contents with me.
Once again, the spectre of Michael Cooke had come back to haunt me.
It was time to return to Canada.
Don’t miss the next installment of “How and why Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke got me illegally blacklisted,” coming in the next few days.