Story by Adela Talbot
Vassy Kapelos’ keen interest in politics was cultivated early by her parents, family members and three newspapers that hit her doorstep every day while growing up in Toronto.
“It’s a cross-section of current events and politics that really interested me. I just loved the theatrics of it. I love the drama of it all,” said Kapelos, BA’04 (Political Science), a Canadian broadcast journalist who has covered politics for the Global Television Network for nearly a decade.
Earlier this month, CBC announced Kapelos would be taking the helm of its flagship daily political program, Power & Politics, starting in March.
“It’s important for people to understand the decisions being made and the way they affect their lives. You’ll see people upset about teachers going on strike because it affects their kid’s’ daily life. But often they’re not aware of the decisions that led to that in the first place. There’s a role for people to explain and make others aware of what is going on. It is too easy to not pay attention,” she continued.
Kapelos started her career in journalism in Swift Current, Sask., where she worked as a video journalist for an independent station. From there, she moved to Saskatoon to work for Global, packing up for Edmonton shortly after when she became the station’s legislative reporter.
“That’s when I started to cover the things I had always wanted to cover and got into the business for. I always knew I wanted to be a political reporter. I came into (the role) at an interesting time. Alberta politics. Oh, boy. People think that is dry, but it was anything but. It was a real thrill,” Kapelos noted.
Covering Alberta’s legislature, Kapelos broke a story about the large severance package paid out to Premier Alison Redford’s outgoing chief of staff in 2013, a move that ultimately forced Redford to introduce a new sunshine list for public employees.
Kapelos moved to the Ottawa bureau in 2013, becoming its chief in 2016 and host of Global’s The West Block in 2017 following the retirement of Tom Clark. She has travelled around the world with Global and has taken assignments that spanned coverage of the Olympics in Rio to sitting with troops in northern Iraq.
“I love reporting with a great passion, but hosting a political show just felt right from the beginning. And The West Block was a big challenge. This next job for me is just an extension of what I love doing the most,” said Kapelos.
“Now, instead of doing it half an hour a week, I get to do it for two hours a day. I’ve just been really lucky in the natural progression of that. I have the best job in the world. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been.”
Given the current political climate and upcoming elections, both provincial and national, Kapelos is excited to step into her new role, seeing that early interest in current events and politics intertwine on such a large and important scale.
“This is an incredibly interesting time to be covering politics in Canada. It is always interesting, but now we are seeing a couple of different storylines collide and one of them is the elections and this cultural reckoning,” she explained.
“I have a great interest in what is happening with the #MeToo movement. There is a realization that this stuff happens in politics. That will be part of what I cover, and part of my role will be being cognizant of that and seeing how it materializes and what happens now. We are getting a clearer, more realistic picture of what is happening, but there are so many question marks hanging over how to fix it and what happens next,” Kapelos continued.
“As we’ve seen with the provincial election, there is a great intersection between those two things. I’m looking forward to that and I’m really looking forward to all the election coverage. I’m excited to be at a place that covers elections really well. If there is anything we’ve seen from south of the border, it is that people are hungry for good coverage, for good reporting and good journalism on politics.”
Her time at Western, she added, nurtured her interests and strengths in politics, but also spurred her on her to continue down its path.
“A lot of the classes I was able to take at Western upped the ante for me, and, if anything, just increased my desire to learn more about it,” Kapelos said.
“I love politics and it sort of underscored all of that. I loved Western and come from a long line of people who went to Western; I lived the Western Experience to the max. In addition to the academic advantages I had, it just sort of rounded me out as a person. It set me up socially and with the skills I needed to expand my life,” she added.