People / Dan McLeod

Editor, publisher, journalist. Dan McLeod (pen name Paul Tarasoff) is editor and publisher of the Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s alternative weekly newspaper, which he founded in 1967. The Georgia Straight was originally established as an underground journal that would address the concerns of Vancouver’s youth culture, becoming one of the first forums to discuss issues of environmentalism, homosexuality, civil liberties, and counterculture politics. Past contributors to the paper have included Stan Persky, David Suzuki, bill bissett, Paul Watson, Gerry Gilbert, and Bob Hunter. McLeod received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of British Columbia. There he fell under the influence of English professor Warren Tallman. Following a reading by American poet Robert Duncan, McLeod was inspired to join the circle of poets associated with TISH magazine. McLeod has twice earned the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to journalism in British Columbia (1998, 2002).

On the day that the Georgia Straight was first printed, McLeod was taken away by the police and jailed for three hours for “investigation of vagrancy”. This would be the first of many incidents of police persecution and legal harassment surrounding the paper’s publication. Within the first two years of its publication, McLeod and the Georgia Straight were charged with twenty-seven counts of obscenity, one charge of counseling to commit an indictable offense for publishing an article on how to grow marijuana, and one count of criminal libel for comparing a judge to Pontius Pilate. In 2003, McLeod received a $1 million tax notice from the provincial government issued on the grounds that the Georgia Straight was no longer a newspaper, due to its ratio of advertising to editorial coverage. Although many other free newspapers maintained similar ad ratios, the Georgia Straight appeared to be singled out because of its repeated criticism of the provincial government under Gordon Campbell. McLeod mounted a legal appeal and, eventually, the provincial tax department backed down.