Craig Oliver to retire after four decades with CTV

Craig Oliver, CTV's chief political commentator and a fixture on the network for the last four decades, is retiring.

Craig Oliver, CTV’s chief political commentator and a fixture on the network for the last four decades, is retiring.

Oliver, who turned 81 last month, will step away from appearing regularly on the network as of next week, as announced on CTV daily political program Power Play on Friday. He’ll still appear occasionally as a guest commentator.

Host Joyce Napier told Oliver that one of the incentives for her to join Power Play four years ago was the privilege of working with the veteran journalist, whom she called “one of her journalistic icons.”

“I’m not good at taking compliments,” responded Oliver, who has been described as “irritatingly humble” by colleague Don Martin. “I never think I deserve them.”

“In this town, and we all know, it’s one thing to be loved, it’s one thing to be respected, it’s rare to be both. You’re both loved and respected,” added Evan Solomon, host of Question Period, who sat alongside Oliver on Friday’s Press Gallery Panel.

Oliver’s career with CTV started in 1972 when he signed on to produce new daily network show Canada AM. He went on to serve as director of news and current affairs, Washington bureau chief, and eventually returned to Ottawa as bureau chief and host of Question Period. He stepped back from his hosting duties in 2012.

Oliver fell into broadcasting in his hometown of Prince Rupert, BC following a rough upbringing that saw his bootlegger father abandon him at age 12, as outlined in his 2011 memoir Oliver’s Twist: The Life and Times of an Unapologetic Newshound. Oliver left high school in 1957 to start working at CFPR-AM, a CBC affiliate. From Prince Rupert, he signed on as legislative reporter for CBC Regina, while taking night classes at the University of Saskatchewan and later joined CBC Winnipeg, before returning to Regina as CBC’s national correspondent for the Prairies and then executive producer of regional TV news for Ontario.

Oliver has covered every federal election since 1957 and persevered in spite of a glaucoma diagnosis in his mid-30s that eventually led to him being declared legally blind. For the past few years, he’s worked alongside his daughter Annie Bergeron-Oliver in the Ottawa bureau, who succeeded Oliver and her mother, former CTV news producer Anne-Marie Bergeron, in the “family business.” Oliver’s son Murray is also a former CTV News foreign correspondent and Africa Bureau Chief, who currently teaches journalism at Assiniboine Community College in Manitoba.

Among the accolades Oliver’s work has earned him over the years are inductions into the Order of Canada, Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame, two Gemini awards, and an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Regina.

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