COVER STORY: EVAN SOLOMON
The CTV host on the move from Midtown to the nation’s capital
Canadian journalist, former Village resident and media personality Evan Solomon became the new host of CTV’s Ques
tion Period, a weekly political affairs show based in Ottawa, in September 2016.
Now that Solomon has been hosting Question Period for a little over a year, he’s branched off to add his own talk radio show to his resumé. The Evan Solomon Show, Bell Media’s first daily syndicated talk show, premiered Sept. 5 across the country on stations in Montreal, Ottawa and in Toronto on Newstalk 1010, as well as other markets.
Solomon says the idea behind the show is to bring together Canadian cities in a national conversation about issues that affect the entire country.
“We need to have a conversation about things that are going on across the country, not just what’s going on in our cities,” he says. “We’re trying to get the country talking to each other because the truth is we all have a huge impact on each other and we need a national conversation about that.”
The show covers everything from potential drug decriminalization to the success of horror movie It, and Solomon says it’s this wide variety of water-cooler topics that will make the show stand out.
“Our goal is to get at what matters. There are a lot of ways to get at what’s real: sometimes it’s a fact, and sometimes the truth is an emotion,” he says.
Solomon says he recently interviewed a Canadian stranded in the Caribbean, terrified for his life, as well as an HIV sufferer who was charged with aggravated sexual assault for accidentally leaving a partner in the dark about his condition. He says he hopes to bring more real stories like this to the forefront of the show.
“Our show is all about people with skin in the game, not just talking heads who have an opinion. So when you’re listening to the show, you’re thinking this matters to people; they’re betting their life on it.’”
Although he and his family left their Hillcrest neighbourhood home and relocated to Ottawa eight years ago, Solomon remains connected to Toronto.
“My family is all there, so we go to Toronto a lot and we love it,” he says.
Solomon grew up in the York Mills and Yonge Street area of Toronto and attended Crescent School from Grades 7 to 12. He says his years at Crescent were some of the most formative of his life, and he’s made lasting friendships with some of his former teachers.
He eventually bought a house at Harbord and Bathurst, and then he and his wife,Tammy Quinn, moved to Davenport and Christie where they raised their kids across from Hillcrest Park.
Now settled in Ottawa, Solomon says he’s honoured to be the current host of CTV’s third oldest TV series.
“It’s a real honour to host an absolute landmark show like CTV’s Question Period. The people who have sat in that chair are some of the great journalists, Bob Fife, Craig Oliver, Ed Greenspon, Jane Taber, Kevin Newman.These are phenomenal journalists, all of them,” he says.
Solomon says that over the past year, since he’s been hosting the show, he’s covered some powerful and crucial global issues. From the national carbon tax to the election of Donald Trump and its effect on NAFTA, Solomon says they’re always aiming to tackle some of the most important issues to the country and the world at large.
“Every week we try to have an interview that moves the ball forward,” he says. “It’s kind of like that brunch where everyone’s jacked up on coffee, and all of a sudden a really passionate debate breaks out and people are on two sides. The difference with Question Period is you get that debate and then we get to say ‘Great points. Here’s Bill Morneau, the finance minister. You can ask him directly.’”
As a student at McGill University, Solomon had the foresight to know the key role religion still plays in the world’s politics. Solomon says he was drawn to study English literature and religion because of his desire to know what makes the world tick.
“I was always interested in how people organize themselves in a society through the stories they tell. Back then it was interesting because nobody thought about religion as one of those driving forces,” he says. “I remember covering 9/11 in New York, and it was kind of like religion burst back through the window and everyone was, like, ‘Oh this is one of the fundamental driving forces in our world. We better understand it.’”
Solomon stayed busy during university playing sports and writing plays for the McGill Players’Theatre. He says he always knew he wanted to be a journalist, and after a year freelancing in Hong Kong, he came back to Toronto to start his own magazine with a friend, Andrew Heintzman.
“It was a real funny time in Canada where a lot of young writers, journalists and thinkers were trying to start stuff up. It was a startup culture back then,” he says of the ’90s. “We discovered there was something going on with this Internet thing. The web hadn’t even come out yet, and so Shift became a magazine about digital culture.”
In 1999, Richard Szalwinski, president and CEO of BHVR Communications, bought Shift magazine. Solomon moved on to write a novel called Crossing the Distance, which was published in 1999, and began his career as a radio and television host with the CBC until his controversial departure in 2015.
Now, with two kids, two national talk shows and a weekly column for Maclean’s magazine, Solomon has his hands full. The media personality says he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon — the world of daily radio never stops.
“In daily radio and television, it’s ‘That was a great show, what are we going to do tomorrow?’ I work with some great people, and that is the great thing about the job — working with the team and trying to make some great programs every day,” he says.