Pamela Wallin (1953-)

Pamela Wallin

Year Born: 1953

Year of Induction: 2001

Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Wallin, Pamela (1953- )

Pamela Wallin’s move to the media was serendipitous. She was born 250 km north of Regina in the Saskatchewan town of Wadena – a community which bred and educated an extraordinary number of broadcasters. In 1973, Pamela graduated from the University of Regina with BAs in psychology and political science which led to employment as a social worker. One day, while working at the Prince Albert Penitentiary, she received a phone call that changed her life. The host of a Regina phone-in radio program had taken ill and she was invited to replace him for “a couple of weeks.”

While doing that job, she said later, she realized it was what she had always wanted to be. When she was offered a steady job by CBC Radio, it was the start of a 25-year career in the media.  Her role with the CBC as a performer, political editor and producer took Pamela from Regina to Ottawa and Toronto.

In 1979, Pamela left the CBC, accepting an offer from the Toronto Star to join its Ottawa bureau. But 1981 found her back in Toronto and in broadcasting, this time co-hosting with Norm Perry CTV’s Canada AM. In 1985, CTV appointed her its first female bureau chief. As well as providing world-wide news coverage and doing major interviews, she produced and hosted CTV’s Question Period, a weekly forum on political events, and frequently was weekend anchor of CTV National News.

In 1992, Pamela moved back to the CBC, this time as co-host of Prime Time News with Peter Mansbridge.

The CBC downsized. In her 1998 memoir Since You Asked, Pamela wrote about her painful and public 1995 firing. But she bounced back by starting her own company, Pamela Wallin Productions, launching the show Pamela Wallin and selling it to CBC.

In 2001, she published a second book, Speaking of Success: Collected Wisdom, Insights and Reflections, a distillation of the perspectives of many of the successful people she had interviewed during her media career. She was preparing for its launch when she was diagnosed with colon cancer, for which she underwent a successful operation.

In December 2001, Pamela hosted a Canada Loves New York rally to commemorate the September 11 terrorist attack on the city. Partly, at least, as the result of the success of that rally, Prime Minister Jean Chretien offered her the job of Consul General in New York City. The appointment took effect June 25, 2002.

Over the years, Pamela served on a number of boards and councils, including as chair of the Canadian Journalism Foundation – an organization to foster and encourage excellence and accuracy in the news media. She was given honorary doctorates by Ryerson. Wilfrid Laurier, Regina, St. Thomas and Western universities and from Loyalist College. Among her many awards are the United Nations UNIFEM Canada Award for outstanding contributions toward the advancement of women, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the Gordon Sinclair Gemini Award for the best overall broadcast journalist, and the Radio and Television News Directors Association President’s Award. In 1982, she was honoured by the Queen as an outstanding Canadian achiever.

In 1994, her hometown of Wadena named a main street Pamela Wallin Drive, and that, she said, was her most precious recognition.

In 2001, Pamela Wallin was inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame. 

On July 14th 2006, her term as Canadian Consul-General in New York expired, and shortly thereafter the Globe and Mail reported that Pamela had accepted an invitation to join the Board of Bell Globemedia, owners of the Globe and Mail and CTV Inc. 

On July 1, 2007, Pamela Wallin was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. 

On December 22nd 2008, the PMO announced that Pamela Wallin had been appointed to fill one of eighteen vacancies in the Canadian Senate.

Written by Pip Wedge – October, 2002