Winner: Grant LaFleche, St. Catharines Standard
Grant LaFleche’s investigative reporting on an ongoing political corruption scandal in Niagara region took readers inside closed-door meetings. Through the use of secret recordings and confidential documents, he presented the perspectives of those who would not speak to him. His continued work on his series, All the Chair’s Men, shone light on how public funds were funneled into a secret contract and held those in power to account. LaFleche’s coverage of funding tussles over the upcoming Summer Games and a neo-Nazi leader representing the People’s Party of Canada during the federal election campaign were also impressive.
Runner-up: Alan Hale, Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Alan Hale’s dedicated efforts to cover the Akwesasne played a significant role in helping the First Nation and the city of Cornwall build a stronger relationship. Hale’s coverage also probed controversial issues involving to the First Nation, including internal tensions over the sale of cannabis and racial profiling at the nearby border. By building relationships in the Mohawk community, Hale’s coverage led to greater understanding and respect.
Runner-up: Sabrina Bedford, Brockville Recorder & Times
Sabrina Bedford’s comprehensive coverage of the International Joint Commission’s management of water levels along the St. Lawrence River helped explain complex policy issues to the public. It culminated in a scoop revealing that the IJC was responding to residents’ concerns about high water levels by deviating from its official plan. Bedford’s detailed coverage included scientific evidence and the human impact of rising water levels, which both helped create a better understanding of an often-complicated issue.