Nova Scotia

Darce Fardy, longtime N.S. freedom of information officer, dies at 89

The Newfoundland native died March 12 surrounded by family at his home in Halifax.

The former journalist earned admiration and ire in his role as privacy review officer

Darce Fardy was a longtime journalist who worked for the CBC in 4 provinces. (CBC)

Darce Fardy, a longtime journalist who pushed to make government information available to the public, has died at the age of 89.

The Newfoundland native died March 12 surrounded by family at his home in Halifax, according to an obituary posted online.

"He left this life surrounded by his loving family, at the time and place of his own choosing, and fully at peace. But only after a toast, a Manhattan, a laugh, a cry, and a rousing chorus of Ode to Newfoundland. We should all have such great fortune," the obituary said.

Fardy was born May 15, 1932, in St. John's, N.L., as Gerard Fardy, though his obituary noted "no one ever called him that. Nor does anyone know where 'Darce' came from."

Fardy grew up on the island and went on to become a national broadcaster, working for the CBC in four different provinces. At one point, while working as a national reporter in Newfoundland, he struck a chord with prime minister John Diefenbaker.

"The line I remember hearing from the prime minister was, 'Everything I learn from Newfoundland, I hear from my good friend Darce Fardy,'" said Fardy's son, Peter.

As his journalism career progressed, he moved into management, where he oversaw the productions of many news magazine shows including The Journal, The Fifth Estate and Marketplace.

An obituary posted online described Fardy as having a 'proclivity for irreverence, humour and mischief.' He is survived by his wife of 63 years, 3 children and 6 grandchildren. (CBC)

He retired from the CBC in 1991, but there was much more to come for Fardy. As his obituary noted: "Darce saw retirement as a word, not a state of being."

In 1995, Fardy was appointed as the review officer overseeing the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It was a job where he drew the admiration of many political leaders who were in opposition. But he also drew the ire of many other elected officials and senior public servants.

"He was one of those people that when you met him or had any dealings with him, he would leave a strong and lasting impression," said Graham Steele, a longtime Nova Scotia politician who was appointed Nunavut's information and privacy commissioner in January 2021.

"His decisions were always so beautifully written, straightforward and completely lacking the kind of legal jargon these decisions always fall into."

When the long-time Nova Scotia journalist Darce Fardy learned he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, he resorted to what he knew best ... telling a story to help people understand. Darce Fardy and his wife Dorothea share their view of the future.

Following his second retirement in 2006, Fardy found himself still looking to remain involved in privacy matters. He founded the Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia, a non-profit advocacy organization aimed at improving the quality of public and private decision-making in the province.

He ran the organization from his home in Halifax where his "office" was between the freezer and furnace in his basement.

"I think a lot of people thought he was in an office tower when in fact he relegated himself to the basement," said Peter Fardy. "There was nothing glamorous about his office situation, he just needed functionality."

Committed to public access to information

In 2013, Fardy was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition for his commitment and contribution to public access to information.

That same year, Fardy was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He shared his experience with Alzheimer's through columns he wrote for the Halifax Chronicle Herald. He wrote them in an effort to destigmatize the disease and give comfort to others who were dealing with it.

"He was very open about it and he never regretted it," said Peter Fardy. "He got tremendous feedback from people who were struggling with the disease themselves or had a family member with the disease."

In one of his columns, Fardy wrote about medically assisted death, something he supported and used in his own death because he felt the right time had come.

His obituary noted that Fardy "died the way he lived — with dignity."

Former journalist and champion of access to information hopes sharing his experience will help others.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Darce Fardy was Nova Scotia's first freedom of information review officer. In fact, Linda Garber was the first in 1994 and Fardy succeeded her in 1995.
    Mar 16, 2022 1:20 PM AT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across Nova Scotia for 30 years.

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