William Johnson, CM (born 1931) is a Canadian academic, journalist and author.
Early life and education
Johnson's mother was francophone and his father anglophone and Johnson himself speaks both English and French. His mother was outspoken in the Ontario rights movement regarding French school access under Regulation 17.
For seven years Johnson attended Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, and holds an MA in French literature from the Université de Montréal. At home, he speaks only French with his wife, who has a doctorate in French literature.
He taught sociology at the University of Toronto before becoming a journalist, working as a parliamentary correspondent in Quebec City and Washington, D.C. for The Globe and Mail and as a journalist and parliamentary reporter for the Montreal Gazette in Ottawa.
In 1982, Johnson was made a Member of the Order of Canada with the citation that his "daily reports from Quebec on social, cultural, and political affairs have given Anglophone readers new insights into the problems and aspirations of Francophones and have contributed notably to Canadian unity." He has written about the role that attitudes and misconceptions have played in the history of the Quebec sovereignty movement.
Johnson was elected president of the lobby group Alliance Quebec in 1998, serving a controversial term until 2000. During that term, he refused to meet with government officials, held two small demonstrations against the Charter of the French Language, added clauses to the group's constitution denouncing hypothetical declarations of independence by the Quebec government, and supported the election of members of the tiny Equality Party to the group's board of directors. In protest, 20 members of the board of directors and most staff members resigned, while six affiliated groups severed their ties, calling his leadership style overly confrontational. Donations and government funding decreased, but membership increased during his tenure. As president of the association recognized by the federal government to defend Quebec's official language minority, Johnson insisted on marching in Montreal's Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day parade in 1998, over the objections of the organizers and the police; during the parade, the Entartistes threw a cream pie in his face.
In 2005, Johnson authored a book on then Leader of the Official Opposition and current Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. He also translated from the French language to English the 2006 book Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, 1919-1944 by Max and Monique Nemni.
Johnson is a life member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.