Charlottetown Guardian's endorsement of Liberals surprises readers

The Charlottetown Guardian has changed years of practice and chosen to endorse the Liberal Party in Monday's election. It's part of a bolder approach the paper is adopting.

Paper changes stance on election support

The Charlottetown Guardian endorsed the Liberal Party in an editorial in Friday's edition (CBC)

The Charlottetown Guardian newspaper is raising eyebrows by endorsing a party and its leader just days before the federal election.

The paper's editorial board has endorsed the Liberal Party with a long editorial, calling that the best choice for P.E.I.

Many were surprised by the Guardian's clear move. "It's just something I figured they didn't take a position on," said reader Nick Bakker.

Bolder approach for paper

The Guardian's managing editor says it's all part of the paper's new bolder approach. 

"It's a very important election for PEI residents," said Wayne Thibodeau.  

Wayne Thibodeau, Guardian Managing Editor (CBC)

"So if we weigh in on the important issues like the economy, what our provincial government's doing, what city hall's doing, why would we not weigh in on what is one of the most important decisions residents will make - who their federal government will be for the next four years?"

Holland College journalism instructor Rick MacLean is applauding the move.

"Newspapers have a leadership responsibility," stated MacLean. "What could be more important than picking the people who are going to spend the money you give them in taxes?"

Not everyone agreed with that. 

CBC News connected with several candidates from different parties, including a Liberal candidate, and all said the Guardian crossed a line.

There was much debate on social media, pro and con, and some suggested they would cancel their subscription.

Their job is to inform people, not persuade them.- Ingham Jenkins, Guardian reader

"I just find it wrong," said reader Ingham Jenkins. "Their job is to inform people, not persuade them."

Thibodeau says it's no different than other opinions expressed in editorials, or from the paper's columnists.

"That is distinct from our newsroom coverage," he said. "We make every effort possible to ensure our journalists write fair, accurate, and unbiased coverage."

Consequences for paper

MacLean said the bold move will have consequences too. "It's going to be difficult for a newsroom for instance, because now your reporters are going to face accusations, 'Well your newspaper is taking sides'."

Announcing a new, bolder stance for the Charlottetown Guardian. (CBC)
MacLean believes the newsroom can still remain non-partisan, while the paper's editorial board can provide community leadership.

Thibodeau said that's the Guardian's belief as well. "The decision is made locally in Charlottetown, by the local editorial board and in no way influences the news coverage of the newspaper."

Thibodeau said his editorial board will continue endorsing parties and leaders in future provincial and federal elections.

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