Val Sears: The Original Smart Ass

If there's an empty chair at Val Sear's table in Heaven (or the other end) I want to reserve it for myself. Of all the scribes I've met during my 40 years in and around the business, Val was the wittiest and most colorful, at least when it came to using language.

He was a master punster, who could always be counted on to deliver the most "Searing"  and insightful comment or lede. Val took ideas, masticated them, and spit them out in 30 words or less.

His take was always a "blinding glimpse of the obvious".

Today, many of his long time colleagues from the Hill and beyond shared Valisms like these on the National Press Club Virtually Speaking site. Without their permission, I am sharing their stories today.

One of my memories of Val Sears was him coming to Ottawa to cover something that turned out to be far less interesting than The Star expected. He just shrugged and said, "Well, we've turned chaff into bricks before."

The Star had a brief strike in the early 1980s. The Ottawa bureau members were picketing on Sparks street. As the demo wound down, Val lamented, "I wish this would end so I can go upstairs and have a dry martini."

Wasn't it Val who said about Dief, 'Gentlemen, to your typewriters...we have a government to bring down!'?

And when the Tories held their first policy convention after the defeat in 1980, following a nine-month reign, Val reported on the leader's speech with the lede "Joe Clark fell to the occcasion once again."

He told a story about Mike Duffy, adding: "Duffy was aghast, ordering a double chocolate mousse to recover."

I'm sure these stories and more will be told in Val's wake. (Sorry I cannot help myself!)

I met him later in his career, sitting around the press club with his old pal Walter Gray. The pair had lunch together once a week, even after Val suffered a debilitating stroke. The head knock left him with a tongue the size of an orange, but it didn't stop him from skewering everyone who walked by, peppering the conversation with wise cracks, while sporting the smile of a Cheshire cat.

I loved Val. He was the meow to the cat, the butter to our bread, a smart ass of the first order, and an unrepentant shit disturber.

Save me a seat, Val. I'll get their eventually.


  1. Whenever Val Sears arrived on a scene or event it was elevated.


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