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Media, politicos respond to death of James Travers

News media and politicians across the country responded with shock to the news that James Travers, political columnist for The Star, died this morning of complications from surgery.

Among the journalists grieving were Don Newman and Susan Delacourt. Politicians across the spectrum joined them, including Jack Layton, Bob Rae, and Doug Finley.

So many others were posting tributes via Twitter that Jim Travers became a trending topic.

Many of Travers's columns are available on the website of The Star. He is perhaps best remembered for a prophetic column published on April 4, 2009: The quiet unravelling of Canadian democracy. A key passage:

Africa, despite popular perception, despite the Somalias and Zimbabwes, is moving in one direction, Canada in another. Read the headlines, examine the evidence, plot the trend line dots and find that as Africans – from turnaround Ghana to impoverished Malawi – struggle to strengthen their democracies, Canadians are letting theirs slip.

There, dictatorships are now more the exception than the rule and accountability is accepted as a precondition for stability. Here, power and control are increasingly concentrated and accountability honoured more in promise than practice. Canadian politicians flout the will of voters and parties. Once-solid institutions are being pulled apart by rising complexity and falling legitimacy. Scandals come and go without full public exposure or cleansing political punishment. If not yet lost, Camelot is under siege.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee and a longtime admirer of James Travers.

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