OTTAWA — The Toronto Star led nominations for the prestigious Michener Award for public service journalism.
The newspaper secured two of the six short-listed nominations for the award, one on its own and one for a collaboration with CBC and RadioCanada.
The Globe and Mail, the London Free Press, the National Observer and La Presse secured the other nominations.
The collaborative entry from CBC, RadioCanada and the Star focused on exploring Canadian angles uncovered in the Panama Papers, the name given to millions of leaked documents from a South American Law Firm.
The Michener Foundation credited the three media outlets for putting "a Canadian face on a global story" by identifying home-grown lawyers and consultants allegedly helping to structure offshore tax avoidance deals. The foundation said the coverage led to the federal government hiring many new employees at the Canada Revenue Agency specifically to crack down on tax avoidance.
The Star's second entry probed secrecy at Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, an agency that's called in to investigate reports of death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault involving police. The Michener Foundation said revelations from the paper helped shape recommendations meant to improve police transparency in the province.
A Globe and Mail series on questionable real estate sales practices in British Columbia led directly to new provincial legislation, the foundation said, citing a new tax on foreign buyers and tighter government regulations for the industry.
The London Free Press was nominated for a two-year investigation into the life and death of local figure Jamie High, which the foundation said exemplified the importance of local media. The series led to changes in policing, bail, community and hospital mental health care, the relationships between hospitals and police, the role of courts, and the treatment of inmates, the foundation said.
The National Observer was recognized for investigating conflicts of interest around hearings into the Energy East pipeline. The paper's investigation led to a postponement of the hearings as key officials had to recuse themselves from the proceedings.
La Presse produced a series looking into Quebec's video lottery business, which brings in nearly a billion dollars of annual revenue, and found that hundreds of bars were flouting rules meant to protect patrons from addiction. The series also revealed that the province's regulatory agency was ignoring such breaches, even for repeat offenders. More than a thousand such terminals are set to be withdrawn from service in the coming months.
The Michener award, founded in 1970 by former governor general Roland Michener, honours excellence in public service journalism. This year's award will be handed out by current Gov. Gen. David Johnston on June 14.
The Canadian Press