Canadian conservative journalist Peter Worthington passed away on Monday of a staph infection. He was 86.
The son of Major General F.F. Worthington of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, the younger Worthington served in the Canadian military in both WWII and Korea.
Worthington began his journalism career with The Toronto Telegram in 1956 where he was primarily a war correspondent writing dispatches from Vietnam, Biafra, The Six Day War and was also on hand when Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia. Late in his life, Worthington was imbedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
However, Worthington might be best known as an eyewitness to Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. In 2011, Worthington reflected on the incident:
The plainclothes detective and I both felt shock waves of the gun being fired. We nodded at each other and remarked that we were lucky the gunman was a good shot. Had he missed, we felt we were in the line of fire.
When the Telegram folded in 1971, Worthington and several of his colleagues founded The Toronto Sun weeks later. Worthington served as its editor in chief and was a chief critic of Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Worthington would become the only journalist charged under the Official Secrets Act for revealing the KGB had recruited 16 Canadians. The case was thrown out of court.
The Toronto Sun was and remains Canada’s most conservative newspaper. The tabloid remains a success more than four decades later. Worthington would later help establish The Ottawa Sun.
In the early 1980s, Worthington took a leave of absence from journalism and twice unsuccessfully ran for the House of Commons in the Toronto constituency of Broadview-Greenwood. He ran as an independent in a 1982 by-election and was the Progressive Conservative candidate in the 1984 federal election but lost to Lynn McDonald of the NDP on both occasions.
Worthington is the stepfather of author Danielle Crittenden and father-in-law of former Bush speechwriter David Frum.
In his final act, Worthington wrote his own obituary. It begins, “If you are reading this, I am dead. How’s that for a lead?”