John was raised in Gravenhurst, Ont., graduating from the University of Toronto in 1979 with an Honours B.A. in English and from the University of Western Ontario in 1988 with an M.A. in Journalism.
In a career spanning three decades, John has worked as a reporter and columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, Southam News, the National Post and, since 1999, the Globe and Mail, where he has served as the paper’s Queen’s Park bureau chief, Washington bureau chief and Ottawa bureau chief, becoming Chief Political Writer in 2012 and Writer at Large in 2015.
Along the way, John wrote Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution; Loyal No More: Ontario’s Struggle for a Separate Destiny; The Polite Revolution: Perfecting the Canadian Dream and Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper.
In 2013, HarperCollins published the national bestseller The Big Shift, which Ibbitson co-wrote with Darrell Bricker. And in 2015 Signal/McClelland & Stewart published Stephen Harper, John’s landmark biography of Canada’s 22nd prime minister, which won the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing.
In February 2019, McClelland & Stewart in Canada, Penguin Random House in the United States, and Little, Brown in the United Kingdom will publish Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline, co-authored with Darrell Bricker. Empty Planet is also being translated into Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.
John is also a writer of plays and of novels, including The Landing, which won the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. In March 2018, on its tenth anniversary, the book was republished by Kids Can Press.
His work has also been nominated for the National Newspaper Award, the Donner Prize, the B.C. National Book Award, the Trillium Book Award and the City of Toronto Book Award, among others.
John’s chief interests outside writing include music (mostly classical) reading (mostly history and biography) and playing poker with reporters (mostly losing). He lives and writes in Ottawa.