In Memoriam: Peter Desbarats

Peter Desbarats: July 2, 1933 - February 11, 2014.

Peter DesbaratsPeter Desbarats was Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Western from 1981 to 1997. Prior to joining Western, he worked as a print and television journalist for 30 years, primarily covering politics. 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.

During the final years of his appointment at Western, Desbarats was seconded to serve as one of three commissioners 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. The experience formed the basis for Desbarats' book Somalia Cover-Up – A Commissioner's Journal (1997).

Desbarats authored a number of research reports for federal inquiries examining aspects of media and communications and is cited frequently in the media as an authority on Canadian journalism. He also authored the journalism text Guide to Canadian News Media (1996).

In addition to his work as a journalist, Desbarats published widely in a variety of genres, including children's books, plays, and political analysis, including a best-selling biography of René Lévesque (1976). His most recent plays, the political comedies Her Worship (2002) and The Practical Joke (2005), were produced on the McManus Stage of the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.

Desbarats was a Director of the Canadian Journalism Foundation, was the founding Chair of its annual Excellence Award, and served on its adjudication committee. He was also a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and in 2006 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Desbarats returned to the Journalism Program at FIMS in 2007 as the CanWest Global Fellow in Media, and taught the course "Media and Politics."

See also:
Former dean, professor receives high award (Western News, October 28, 2007)
Organ donation panel includes Desbarats (Western News, November 27, 2006)