Peter Desbarats photo

Peter Desbarats

Peter Desbarats was Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., from 1981 until 1997. He continues to teach in Western's journalism program, now part of the new Faculty of Information and Media Studies, conducting a graduate course in "Media and Politics" in the 2006-2007 academic year. Before that, he had worked as a print and television journalist for 30 years, starting as a copy boy with The Canadian Press, Canada's national news co-operative, in his home town of Montreal. He also worked in London (UK), Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto, primarily as a political journalist. His last media positions before entering academia were as national affairs columnist for The Toronto Star and Ottawa Bureau Chief and co-anchor for Global Television, one of Canada's three national networks..

From 1995 to 1997, Prof. Desbarats was on leave from Western to serve as one of three members of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia. This inquiry was appointed by the Canadian government to investigate misconduct by Canadian soldiers in Somalia in 1992-93. Following this, Prof. Desbarats published his book "Somalia Cover-Up - A Commissioner's Journal." In 1980-81, Prof. Desbarats was Senior Consultant and Associate Research Director of the Royal Commission on Newspapers and the author of one of its published research volumes "Newspapers and Computers - An Industry in Transition." Since then he has produced a number of research reports for federal inquiries examining aspects of Canadian media and communications. He is cited frequently in the media as an authority on Canadian journalism and has lectured on media to audiences in many part of Canada, the United States, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East..
Prof. Desbarats has written 12 books since his first, "The State of Quebec," was published in 1962. In 1976, he wrote a best-selling biography of René Lévesque, Quebec's first separatist Premier. He is the author of a standard journalism text "Guide to Canadian News Media" (1996) and was co-editor in 1998 of "Freedom of Expression and New Information Technologies" published in Montreal under UNESCO auspices to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.

He is the author of three books for children, several plays and numerous academic and popular articles. His play, "Her Worship," a dramatic comedy about the role of religion in contemporary Canadian politics, played on the McManus Stage of London's Grand Theatre in April, 2002. The Grand Theatre then commissioned him to write another political comedy. "A Practical Joke" was produced in February, 2006. He also writes political and media columns for The London Free Press, The Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen.

Prof. Desbarats is a Director of the Canadian Journalism Foundation and founding chair of its annual Excellence Award. He is a Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. He also serves on the academic grants committee of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada . He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Environmental Journalists in the U.S. and Journalists for Free Expression in Canada.

In London, Prof. Desbarats was a long-time member of the board of Orchestra London, is the past President of the London Museum of Archaeology and past chair of the Ministry and Personnel Committee at Colborne Street United Church.

In 2000-2001 he held the Maclean Hunter Chair of Communications Ethics at Ryerson University in Toronto.
Prof. Desbarats is descended from a long line of publishers and journalists that originated in France more than 300 years ago. His great-grandfather published Canada's first national news magazine "The Canadian Illustrated News" from 1869 to 1883 and in 1873 launched the "Daily Graphic" in New York, the world's first photographically illustrated newspaper.
Peter once interviewed Galbraith in Boston for BCB.