Former Sun-Times publisher named Canadian diplomat here

John Cruickshank

John Cruickshank, the Canadian journalist and media executive who earned respect and trust during seven years as an editor and publisher of the Sun-Times, is returning to Chicago as a diplomat for his country.

Cruickshank, 63, has been named consul general of Canada in Chicago. The Midwest consulate covers Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Northwest Indiana and the Kansas City metropolitan area. He will assume the post in mid-April.

“Mr. Cruickshank personally exemplifies the many links between Canada and the United States, which includes his time in Chicago and his tenure as publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times,” Chrystia Freeland, foreign affairs minister of Canada, said in a statement Monday. “With his proven leadership, I have no doubt that he will successfully represent the best of Canada in Chicago.”

The Toronto native, who stepped down last March after seven years as publisher of the Toronto Star, most recently has served as chairman of the Canadian Journalism Foundation and co-chair of Canadian Press Enterprises. He previously held senior editorial roles at CBC News, Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette and the Globe and Mail.

Starting in 2000, Cruickshank was highly regarded as a stabilizing figure during the tumultuous reign of Conrad Black and David Radler, top executives of Sun-Times parent company Hollinger International. Both Black and Radler eventually served prison time for fraud.

“John was the cheerful peacemaker, the steady hand, who came in after the dismissals of Black and Radler and told us the good news was, the Sun-Times had been making more money than we thought, and the bad news was, it had been stolen,” the late Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert said of Cruickshank when he stepped down as publisher in 2007. “He was a calming, encouraging influence.”

Of his tenure at the Sun-Times, where he rose from vice president of editorial to chief operating officer and publisher, Cruickshank later joked he “was the only one who wasn’t under FBI investigation at the time that they needed a new publisher.”