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Six nominees unveiled for annual Michener Award for public service journalism

OTTAWA — An investigation of the wrongful conviction of a Halifax man, another about tainted water, and another about sexual abuse in sports are among the nominees for the country's highest prize for public-service journalism.

The foundation behind the annual Michener Award has unveiled the list of six nominees, which include outlets large and small, as well as a consortium of outlets working together.

The Halifax Examiner's Tim Bousquet is nominated for a five-year investigation of the wrongful conviction of Glen Assoun, which led to court documents being unsealed and revealing grave police misconduct.

Assoun was granted a new trial and exonerated due to the work, and the federal government changed its policy regarding applications for wrongful convictions.

The award is usually handed out at a ceremony at Rideau Hall hosted by the Governor General, but the ceremony itself has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nominees for the 50th anniversary of the award also include:

—The Globe and Mail for an investigation of foreign workers and students that led to stringent regulation of immigration consultants;

—CBC News for reporting on sexual abuse in sports that led to national changes;

—Montreal's La Presse for reporting on corruption in the property-decontamination business;

—The London Free Press for an investigation of how a woman was charged with assaulting police when in fact she was the victim of an assault and cover-up; and

—Concordia University's Institute for Investigative Journalism for bringing together more than 120 journalists in six news organizations, students and faculty from nine post-secondary institutions  who combined to file over 700 information requests to governments that unveiled high levels of lead in local drinking water — and promises to replace aging infrastructure and more stringent testing.

Pierre-Paul Noreau, president of the Michener Foundation, says nominations from local news outlets, such as the London Free Press and La Presse, show local news has never been more critical even as newsrooms across the country face their greatest challenge with the pandemic.

The Michener Award was founded in 1970 by former governor general Roland Michener.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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