October 19, 2015 5:11 pm

National Post’s Andrew Coyne in public disagreement with paper over endorsement

Postmedia newspapers, including the National Post and Ottawa Citizen, are shown with Quebecor Media's Ottawa Sun on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. Postmedia Network announced it would purchase 175 of Quebecor's English language newspapers, including the Toronto Sun and Ottawa Sun.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
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TORONTO – Prominent political journalist Andrew Coyne says he has stepped down from his position as editor of editorials and comment for the National Post after clashing with the newspaper over a piece he wrote that was at odds with the Post’s endorsement of the Conservatives in Monday’s federal election.

Coyne issued an explanation in a series of tweets, saying he resigned the editor’s post “to protect my reputation and to preserve my editorial freedom as a columnist.”

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Coyne said he will continue as a columnist for the National Post.

Coyne had penned an unpublished column expressing a different view than the position the National Post took on the election. He later wrote on Twitter that he intends to back the NDP candidate in his riding and that “the Conservatives don’t deserve to be re-elected, and the Liberals don’t deserve a majority.”

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“Postmedia executives and I had a professional disagreement,” Coyne wrote of the National Post’s parent company. “Their view was that the publication of a column by the editorial page editor dissenting from the Post’s endorsement of the Conservatives would have confused readers and embarrassed the paper. My view was that that was what I was paid to do as a columnist: give my honest opinion on issues of public interest.”

Coyne did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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In a note to National Post staff, Editor-in-Chief Anne Marie Owens announced Coyne’s decision, saying he felt his dual roles were in conflict. She praised his tenure in the editor’s job.

“In his short time as editorials & comment editor, Andrew brought intellectual rigour to our editorials and his enthusiasm for intelligent argument and debate to the comment pages,” she wrote.

Coyne tweeted that a newspaper’s managers and owners have every right to take an editorial stance and determine who and what gets published, but suggested he felt his columnist job would be compromised if he stayed silent when he and management didn’t see eye to eye.

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In this case, Coyne said he felt readers would be able to differentiate between the newspaper’s official endorsement and the views of an individual columnist.

“I don’t see public disagreement as confusing. I see it as honest,” he tweeted. “Readers, in my view, are adults & understand that adults can disagree.”

Coyne said he would stay on as a columnist with the paper, but would no longer oversee the editorial and commentary section that he presided over since December 2014.

Coyne, the son of a former Bank of Canada governor, has carved out a long and varied career among Canada’s major media outlets.

In addition to columnist positions with the National Post and Globe and Mail, he spent years as national editor of Maclean’s magazine. He is also a regular member of CBC’s weekly “At Issue” panel.

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