Award Winning Journalist

The Life of Eric Malling

Eric Malling’s name resonates strongly with many: he was one of the most hard-hitting broadcast journalists on Canadian television, embodying the image of a truth-teller and covering numerous investigative stories from everyone to political leaders to notable and sometimes notorious newsmakers in a variety of industries. Simply put, Malling knew what to ask, how to ask it, and when to depart from his prepared questions; he had the distinct ability to turn his interviews into conversations.

Early Years

Eric Malling was born on September 4, 1946 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Through his formidable years, he knew quickly he wanted to become a journalist. Following his graduation with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from the University of Saskatchewan, Eric Malling headed to Carleton University to pursue his passion.

In 1969, after a stint working for the provincial government, he joined the reporting staff of the Regina Leader-Post for the Toronto Star. His main goal was to grab front-page headlines. Over the next several years there were many, but the one that stood out the most was on the invocation of the War Measures Act during the FLQ crisis in 1970. The piece caught the attention of journalist Ron Haggart who would later go on to help form The Fifth Estate.

Malling’s work in the newspaper business was followed by jobs at CBC radio and CTV’s Canada AM.

As a reporter for CTV, Malling was assigned to conduct interviews with elected officials on Parliament Hill before joining the team at The Fifth Estate, CBC’s flagship newsmagazine, where he worked for 14 years to an audience of more than 1.5 million Canadians.

Breaking Television’s Rules

It is interesting to note that his documentary on how government-owned Canadair lost $2 billion spawned two Parliamentary committees. In the early 1990s, his reporting on the fiscal crises in New Zealand and Saskatchewan spurred a national debate about government debt.

With an aggressive attitude and an impeccable talent for getting the dirty details of every story, Malling came across as both a great investigative reporter but also “a guy who loved to misbehave.” One of the most-often-told stories about Malling involves an interview he conducted with flamboyant sports announcer Don Cherry, who expressed some highly negative personal opinions about foreign hockey players. In typical aggressive form, Malling called Cherry out on camera and told him candidly what he thought about his comments.

Uncovering

The Ugly Truth

Eric Malling’s loyal viewers may also remember “Tunagate,” a Fifth Estate report that first aired on Sept. 17, 1985 where Malling revealed that Progressive Conservative Fisheries Minister John Fraser had knowingly approved a million cans of rancid Star-Kist tuna for sale. Just two days after the story broke, a flustered Fraser announced a recall of the tainted tuna. It was Malling’s report that ultimately led to Fraser’s resignation.

It was Tunagate and other stories like it that made Eric Malling a sort-of ‘superhero’ of journalism. Eventually, people began to take note, and, because his style was so bold and opinionated, he made a name for himself and wasn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers to get to the bottom of a story. His talent earned him seven ACTRA/Gemini Awards – the most by any single person at the time of his passing, and three Gordon Sinclair awards for excellence in broadcast journalism. He twice received the highest award for investigative reporting from the Centre of Investigative Journalism.

Untimely

Death

On September 28, Eric John Malling, age 52, died at Sunnybrook Hospital. He left behind his wife Pat and their children, Leif and Paige.