Globe and Mail Columnist Uses ‘Home Of The Week’ To Advertise Sale Of Her Own House

“The Listing:
90 Massey St., Toronto
Asking price: $599,000
Taxes: $3030.95

Over the years I painstakingly improved the house – insulating the attic, building firewalls, rebuilding the front porch, updating appliances, painting and landscaping – but all my work was minor compared to the change in the neighbourhood. Since the mid-2000s, the Bellwoods Park area has gone from shabby chic to super chic, establishing itself as the beating heart of downtown Toronto’s rapid west-end gentrification.

After more than half a decade of being the proud owner of this magical city house it’s time for me to move on. Like the neighbourhood, my life has undergone massive change in the past few years, all of it for the best. My partner has a son from a previous marriage and we recently had a baby of our own. His work is based overseas and I’m spending more time abroad. As a freelance writer I need a home office cut off from the hubbub of family life. As much as I hate the idea of leaving 90 Massey, a more suitable home must be found. I’m saying goodbye to my urban worker’s cottage and hope to do safe in the knowledge that the next owners will love to the place as much as I did. Honestly, how could they not?”

– from ‘Home of the Week: A worker’s cottage built for family life’, Leah MacLaren, G&M, 20 Sep 2012

“In what seems to be a pretty significant conflict of interest, Globe and Mail columnist Leah McLaren has listed her own house for sale in The Globe and Mail’s Home of the Week section.
In the article, McLaren waxes poetically, in 700 or so words, about her “charming red brick Victorian row house.”
By doing so, it would seem as though she is abusing her position of authority in the press to further her own economic interests: selling her house. Unless, of course, her home happened to be the most interesting home for sale that week.
Though she admitted the shameless self promotion on Twitter, the journalistic faux-pas has not gone unnoticed by her audience.”

– from ‘Globe and Mail columnist Leah McLaren tries to sell own house in column’, Michael MacDonald,, 26 Sep 2012

We’ve seen some bald-faced conflict-of-interest behaviour here in Vancouver through our RE bubble, but we can’t recall anything quite like this yet happening here.
– vreaa

22 responses to “Globe and Mail Columnist Uses ‘Home Of The Week’ To Advertise Sale Of Her Own House

  1. “Home of the Week” isn’t exactly a hard news section of the paper. I’d call this tacky and perhaps gauche, but conflict of interest is stretching it a bit. I won’t be writing a “shocked and appalled” letter as I did to the National Post when their condo section had an article on Yorkville where the two “owners” profiled were an agent and the project’s financier.

    Still, I fondly recall the days when Leah and Russel Smith shared a page and both their columns were the better for the competition. In the heat of the newspaper wars, with four paid dailies, Toronto journalism really did approach world class for a while there. With the National Post hemorrhaging red ink and the Globe turned into a great grey photocopier, those days are behind us.

    • “This is nicer than a studio apartment for the same price.” – This argumentational gem received received 5 likes. 🙂

  2. How about this:
    You fork out a million dollars for a condo in Vancouver only to find out that your private residence is “communal” and your brainwashed busybody neighbors decide that you can’t smoke in your own unit.
    (I’m a non-smoker, btw)

    • Agreed. I had the same response to this news.

    • Holy crap. I’m also a non-smoker, but my least favorite thing about renting is the hum of censure (no-pets-no-kids-no-smoking-no-parties)… The only reason that makes buying at all attractive is removing the feeling of being watched/on notice, even for non-disruptive activity within your own residence. Condos already struck me as dangerous, because I’ve been on volunteer boards and they are often well-stocked with crazy. This proves it out.

    • I already found out my private residence was communal when I had to keep my windows closed most of the summer because of my balcony chain smoking neighbors (and then clean the falling ash and cigarette butts off my own balcony), so I can understand where this is coming from. I don’t know if I agree with it, but it’s hard not to wish for it because of my personal circumstances. (At least I don’t own the place?)

      • I have to regularly clean my balcony to remove the soil and muddy water that is falling from the pots on my neighbors’ balconies. Should potted plants be banned? There must be some other solution than a complete ban.

      • Well, the cleaning is hardly even worth mentioning, it’s more the closing of windows during the hottest days of summer in a typical greenhouse-like Vancouver condo. But I agree it’s a problem not easily solved.

    • Hahaha. Oh man. This is why I would never EVER buy a condo. I saw in the video that they still let pets in the condo, maybe they should pass a by-law against pets as well? I mean, come on, it’s communal living and the stench of wet dog is nasty, not to mention who knows what kind of pests they carry.

      And while we’re at it: I would like to petition the city to ban car exhaust, after the great success of banning smoking in the parks it is now time to address the real cancer causing problems: The ships running their marine diesels in the bay and harbor as well as all the cars that drive around town.

  3. Knowing the Globe… the HomePromoFreebie was probably offered to the scribbler in lieu of compensation for other/prior work.

    In the “Could be [much] worse!” category however, we have the UsualSuspects [Lickspittles, Cronies, AspirantCouncillors, VestedInterests, etc.] cobbled together by CityHall to create the illusion of political impetus towards affordable housing…

    Well, as it happens, the OfficialPontificating is over… and TheSolution™ is at hand… “SkinnierStreets™”.

    [CBC] – ‘Thinner’ Vancouver streets among affordability ideas

    [NoteToEd: Not generally known and certainly not openly divulged was the Commission’s other finding… one deemed far too contentious to publish… that SkinnierVancouverites™ would not only create the illusion of more capacious housing – but would camouflage street narrowing in ‘selected neighbourhoods’. Oh yes, “SelectedNeighbourhoods™” invariably means anywhere the Commissioners do not personally reside or enjoy property holdings.]

  4. McLaren was at McGill a year or two ahead of me and she wrote just as poetically about that time in her breakout feature article “The Look” about her own experience bumping into PE Trudeau. Obviously I have a soft spot for her writing – it’s as close to gossip magazines that I come. You know: so bad it’s good, cringe. Intentionally writing as a generational spokesperson, her writing is by-definition-personal. In that way, this article is true to form and purpose. Her readers followed her from uni to profession, in and out of love, perhaps a baby or two, and might now aspire, like her, to a bigger house.

    It’s ironic copy-cat art and entertainment from a writer that is her own protagonist. Obituary – okay, let me try that on. Sappy RE blurb – I do that.

    Pick up paper, scan headlines, read Leah, … rest of paper.

    (Turns out she quit McGill for hometown Trent – but who’s counting: she owns nice Toronto RE and has had a to-die-for career since graduation)

  5. Beware of the condo construction.
    These places are built to milk you dry down the road, rot,rainscreening…
    Plus the windows are eventually all going to have to be replaced, very very expensive.
    Why can’t they build places that won’t rot?
    Hand in your pocket.
    Beware, do your homework, never let a realtor suggest an inspector( a position that requires very little knowledge)

  6. Maybe it’s not even hers, maybe she copied it from a different paper’s real estate section that was published three years ago.

  7. I am shocked and appalled that people read that section of the paper.

  8. Ahh, the Public editor issues a statement in the G&M Journalism (with a capital j, yet?) and commercial interests should be kept seperate.

    You think “Journalists” could’ve figured that one out? Not so much, apparently. Using the Real Estate section to flog your own house is the thing to do. What an advertising opportunity for the staff! *rolls eyes*

  9. because it’s the Globe and Mail, i can’t help thinking about the use of the Dialectic in many of the articles. Is Leah being set up here to cause a negative reaction (thesis), in order to reward her use of Opportunity (anti-thesis) with the end result a co-opted Political Career (synthesis)? We’ll know soon enough.

  10. Every time I come across that asinine column by accident, it seems that they’re comparing another mundane house to being like a “cottage.” moronic.

  11. Hey, my comment just got moderated because I used the word “a$inine.”

  12. Pingback: Friday Free-for-all! - Vancouver Condo Info

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