Richard Gwyn is one of Canada’s best-known and most highly-regarded political commentators. He is the author of several highly-praised and best-selling books and has been the recipient of awards for both newspaper and magazine writing.
Born in England in 1934, Gwyn emigrated to Canada in 1954 at the age of 20, following studies at Stonyhurst College and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
Gwyn has been a journalist since 1957, except for the period 1968-73 when he was first an executive assistant to the Hon. Eric Kierans and subsequently a Director-General in the Department of Communications.
In his early career, Gwyn worked for a number of media organizations including Thomson Newspapers, Time Canada and the CBC, mostly in Ottawa but also in Montreal, Toronto, Halifax. It was during this period that he wrote his first books The Shape of Scandal, A Study of a Government in Crisis (1965) and Unlikely Revolutionary, a biography of Joseph R. Smallwood (1st edition 1969, 2nd edition 1972; re-issued with a new post-script 1999). Both books were highly praised by reviewers.
In 1973, Gwyn joined the Toronto Star as its Ottawa-based National Affairs Columnist. His thrice-weekly columns were syndicated in 26 newspapers from coast to coast. In a 1982 survey conducted by Carleton University’s School of Journalism, Press Gallery reporters overwhelmingly voted him “the one columnist all had to read”. He became a frequent commentator on radio and tv and on the CBC and CTV, as well as co-hosting TV Ontario’s half-hour interview program, Realities.
In 1980, Gwyn published The Northern Magus; Pierre Trudeau and Canadians. It was the top-selling non-fiction book of the year and was widely praised as a master-piece of political reporting and analysis. In 1985 he published his fourth book, The 49th Paradox, about Canada-U.S. relations, predicting that free trade would re-define cross-border relations..
In 1985, Gwyn was appointed The Star’s International Affairs Columnist based in London, and wrote about the climatic events of that period, including the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall the end of apartheid in South Africa and the start of the Middle East peace process.
In 1992, Gwyn returned to Canada to write a thrice-weekly column, Home and Away, about both domestic and international affairs. He continues to comment regularly on tv and radio and is a panelist on TV-Ontario’s weekly program Diplomatic Immunity. He published his most recent book, Nationalism Without Walls; The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian (1995), about the state of Canadian identity amid globalism. In 1999, he contributed the lead essay to the collection Trudeau’s Shadow.
During his career, Gwyn has won two National Newspaper Awards and he has received three citations for merit. He has also been the recipient of a National Magazine Award.
Besides his professional activities, Gwyn is an active member of the board of the non-governmental organization Canadian Journalists for Free Expression that concerns itself with the condition of journalists around the world.