Back when I was a young political reporter, a colleague and I decided to write a book about the shambolic government of Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm.
Keith Baldrey and I were both reporters for The Vancouver Sun based in the capital, and had unparalleled contacts and access to those in the best position to provide behind-the-scenes accounts of Mr. Vander Zalm’s chaotic administration. We sought the permission of our employer. Not surprisingly, The Sun was ecstatic we were pushing ahead with the project, asking only that it get first chance to publish any juicy content.
The newspaper was thrilled, knowing the publicity the book generated would be good for both the newspaper and two of its political reporters. As it turned out, Fantasyland became a best-seller and The Sun benefited enormously from it.
Mr. Zussman was recently fired for participating in a project not dissimilar to the one I embarked on a few decades earlier. He and Vancouver Sun reporter Rob Shaw collaborated on a book about the fall of B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark and the rise of the NDP under John Horgan. With a scheduled release date of next spring, the pair had little time to spend on research and writing. But their extensive contacts with those in key political circles made a very tight timeline possible.
While I don’t know Mr. Zussman well, I can say he has forged a reputation in the Victoria press gallery as extremely likeable and incredibly hard working. The CBC won a major industry honour in October, largely on the back of his reporting on the last days of the Clark government.
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