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VICTOR MALAREK


Investigative journalist/author

Date and Place of Birth: 1948 in Lachine, Québec


Date of Interview: August 4, 2016

Place of Interview: Toronto, Canada

Interviewer: Sophia Isajiw

Length of Interview: 02:10:51 (raw)



(Excerpt):


Interviewer: What drives you, is it a sense of injustice, is it identification with the underdog, is it something else?

Victor Malarek (VM): Yeah, well, it’s a sense of…It’s a sense of justice. It’s a sense of ‘somebody has got to speak.’ You know, nobody spoke for me and my brothers, or any of them in the boys’ home, we were all like brothers in the boys’ home. We fought with each other but man, you mess with us on the street–we are the biggest gang you’ve ever wanted to see. But nobody spoke for us.

I remember when I was at an international conference for social workers and psychologists, and we were talking about the child care system in the world, I guess. They asked me to speak and there were a couple of people from Montreal. And one of them puts up her hand and she says: ‘we used to send the boys to Weredale, to the boys’ home, and yeah, we knew certain things were going on but, what are you going to do? Where are you going to put 180 boys?’ And I looked at her and said, two things here: you knew what was going on, but in the whole time, the 4 ½ years I was at the boys’ home, we never saw a social worker. No one ever came to check on us. They put us in the piece of garbage place, this abusive place, this Dickensian place, but they never came to find out what was happening to us. Secondly, I said to her, no one said that you had to close the place down. ‘But you’re saying all this rotten stuff happened.’ But I didn’t say close the place down. All you had to do was get the sadists, arrest them, charge them, throw them in jail and bring in a bunch of people who actually gave a shit about these kids; because every one of those boys who was in there, were just kids. But I could tell you, they filled the penitentiaries in Quebec after they got out; lots of them. They had horrific lives. And I could tell you that I know at least 20 who were shot to death in gangland slayings, from my generation in the boys’ home; from my generation.

So, you know, it’s a sense of justice that pushes me forward. It’s a sense of saying, these people can’t speak for themselves, so someone’s gotta speak. I don’t want to cover politicians. Yap, yap, yap, yap, they’re full of beans. They say they’re going to do something; they don’t unless they’re embarrassed into it. I don’t like listening to them. I don’t want to cover parliament, I don’t want to cover Provincial legislatures, because all you hear is the same garbage. Garbage in – garbage out. And all the reporters are there because they want to rub elbows with power. You want power? Go out and do something. Make a difference. When you make a difference, people pay attention. When I walk into Queen’s Park, in the Provincial Legislature in Ontario, when I walk into the Parliament, House of Commons after Question Period, all the reporters look over – because they say: “Malarek’s here, something’s happening.” And the politicians go, I’ve had politicians come up to me - the Foreign Affairs Minister, the Health Minister, the Defense Minister, whomever, look at me and go: “You’re not after me are you?” And I go: “You’re turn’s coming.” And they laugh but they’re wondering ‘who is he coming for?’ And usually it’s someone I’ve asked for an interview and they go ‘no.’ But I am infamous for the unscheduled interview. Because a politician who says no to me, and he’s a cabinet minister, or she’s a cabinet minister, is fair game. You’re elected to answer questions. And you may bafflegab during question period, but you don’t with me. And I get the camera rolling.

You know, a long time ago, when I first joined CBC at The Fifth Estate, Roger Abbott who was with the Royal Canadian Air Farce, they had this big gala, advertising people, everything. So they were introducing, I guess, so- called stars of CBC and I was asked to be there. He’s introducing me to say a few words. He didn’t introduce me as Victor Malarek, he goes: “The next guy I’m going to introduce you to, if he shows up at your house with a camera behind him, you know your day is ruined.” And I thought, ‘wow, that’s pretty cool.’ I walked out beaming. I said, ‘yeah, he’s actually right.’ Because many, many times I show up with a camera rolling and they know their day is ruined, but for a reason. If you’re a real bad guy, or you’re a politician avoiding me to ask the questions that need to be asked, and get the answers that I need to get, I’m going to show up for an unscheduled interview.

Victor Malarek (VM): But, I was there, and my Executive Producer accepted the Gemini for Best Host, and they phoned me. Actually, they didn’t phone me, I picked up the Globe and Mail and it says “Malarek Wins Gemini,” and I went, “oh, OH, I won!” So I got this nice Gemini, and last year and this year on the new one, the Academy [of Canadian] Cinema and Television, 2 of my documentaries for 2015 and this year 2016, both won for Best [News or] Information Segment. One was called, can’t remember what they were called now [2015: The War Zone; 2016: Hands of God], anyway for 2 of my documentaries. It’s interesting receiving...by the way, I don’t go to the awards ceremonies.

Interviewer (I): Yeah, but those aren’t just any awards ceremonies, those are the highest awards in Canada for broadcast journalism.

VM: Yeah I know, but… But I’ve won nice awards in the Ukrainian community, where I turned up.

I: And what have you won there?

VM: The Syrnick [John Sirnyck Award for Journalism] from the Shevchenko Foundation [The Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, in 2007 for W-5], very proud of that, because of the work I’ve done in the Ukrainian community on stories that I’ve worked on, including “Help Us Help The Children,” a documentary for CTV which was a beautiful documentary [the W5: “Forgotten Children” DVD is part of this file]. I won the award from the [Ukrainian Canadian] Social Services in Toronto; beautiful, beautiful award. I went to that because it means something to me that they’re honoring me for different kinds of things that I’ve done. They knew about my book on The Natashas and the trafficking of Ukrainian girls, fighting for the rights of all these girls from the former Soviet states and bringing that to the attention, literally, of the world. So, those awards mean something to me.

I: Do they have more meaning?

VM: Yeah, it’s sort of like they recognize who I am from that community that didn’t recognize who I was way back. You know when I got that award, the [Ukrainian Canadian] Social Services Award, and when I got the Shevchenko Medal [2004], I made sure my mother was there, you know, and she was really proud. Because it’s important to her, and I know that being Ukrainian is important to me, it’s in my soul.



CROSS REFERENCES:


Victor Malarek, Wikipedia entry


Victor Malarek, CTV News bio page


2009 CBC Sunday News interview with Victor Malarek on his book The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It


2006 PBS Frontline interview with Victor Malarek on his book The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade


SELECTED AWARDS:


2016 Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, 2016 Canadian Screen Award for Best News or Information Segment, W5: “Hands of God,” CTV (Bell Media)


2015 Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, 2015 Canadian Screen Award for Best News or Information Segment, W5: “The War Zone,” CTV (Bell Media), 2015


  1. Michener Awards for Journalism (3 with The Globe and Mail, 1 with The Fifth Estate)


  1. 2010 for “Beyond Justice” an in-depth report into three killings by RCMP officers in British Columbia and the failure of the justice system to hold police accountable


  1. 2001 for his hard-hitting investigation into the Toronto Police Union and the justice system


  1. 1988 for “Entrepreneurial Immigration” examining the federal government’s policy of encouraging business immigrants to come to Canada, showing that the project failed badly and was far from being the success the government claimed.


  1. 1985 for reporting on the special problems of unseen immigrants


• 2010 Markian Ochrymowych Humanitarian Award, Ukrainian Canadian Social Services, honoring journalist Victor Malarek for his ground breaking work highlighting the issue of human trafficking in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine, in the international media.


2007 John Syrnick Award for Journalism from the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko and here  and here 


  1. 2004 Taras Shevchenko Medal, Ukrainian Canadian Congress


1997 Gemini Award for Best Overall Broadcast Journalist and here


BOOKS:


  1. Orphanage 41 (2014)

  2. The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It (2009)

• The Natashas - The New Global Sex Trade (2003)

• Gut Instinct - The Making of an Investigative Reporter (1996)

• Merchants of Misery (1989)

• Haven's Gate: Canada's Immigration Fiasco (1987)

Hey ... Malarek! (1984) Made into a feature movie: Malarek, 1988, starring Elias Koteas, full movie

Victor Malarek’s daughter Larissa Malarek directed and produced the documentary “One Perogy At A Time.” Narrated by Victor Malarek


The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org

excerpt from the Interview with VICTOR MALAREK
ORAL HISTORY OF UKRAINIAN CANADA