I’ve known Andrew Younger since the summer of 1998. I was director of the King’s School of Journalism. He was on the waiting list for our one-year Bachelor of Journalism class. He wasn’t near the top of the list, but he was persistent. He maintained what seemed like daily contact, just letting us know how keen he was to get in. He was clearly ambitious, but invariably upbeat and positive. Eventually, just before classes began, he was admitted.
Within days, however, he had disappeared.
On September 2, 1998, Swissair Flight 111 had crashed off Peggy’s Cove. The international media descended, and Andrew quickly attached himself to one of the TV crews, spending the next week running errands, humping gear, doing whatever needed doing. Learning.
He returned to classes even more determined to make it in the world of journalism.
And he did. He became a successful, world-travelling independent documentary producer.
I would often invoke his name, both as an exemplar for waiting list applicants, and also as a reminder to myself of our admissions process’ fallibility.
I wasn’t surprised when he became a city councillor, then an MLA and finally provincial energy minister after the Liberals swept to power in 2013.
But I was shocked — and saddened — when it all came tumbling down just before Christmas. Premier Stephen McNeil whisper-announced Younger had taken a leave of absence to deal with a “personal matter.” Last week, Younger teared up as he announced he was resigning from cabinet “to be there for my son and my wife.”
We know Younger received (continuing) death threats, and police protection. We know the police investigation led to an unrelated, still unexplained, charge of assault against Younger by a former caucus staffer. She has pleaded not guilty.
But there is much we still don’t know, in part because that case is still before the courts and the police investigation into the threats is still ongoing.
I haven’t always, perhaps often, agreed with Andrew, the politician. Last year, he wrote a blog post criticizing one of my columns as showing “a shocking lack of research, and is factually inaccurate at almost every turn.”
That said, I wish him the best. This province needs more persistent, upbeat, ambitious men and women.
This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber’s Halifax Metro column.