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November 01, 2013


Well an interview on their intentions is a good start but the group still needs to press the issue.

Ah yes, "Truth is the daughter of time----".

Bill Hewlett:
Most people in Guelph Know that you are an a--kissing supporter of the Mayor.
However the petition has been signed by much more than the 50 valid required signators who are voters, property owners and citizens.
So a properly placed request under the rules of engagement to request an audit of the financial affairs of this City "concerns" you!!
The Province has NO OPTION but to do an independent audit of the financial affairs of this City.
I wonder if you are concerned, but if so, on which side - the taxpayers - or the rollers in the trough???

I'm curious to know the full story on why Gerry no longer works for the Merc. Any insight on that?

I posted it petition on Guelph's reddit page and Facebook. I may post it to Ontario's reddit page

This is the thing I dislike about right-wing populism. It seems to be overwhelming based on half-truths, innuendo, hypocrisy and bald-faced lies. Time and time again I see people like Rob Ford, Stephen Harper, the Rethuglicans in the USA, and so on, making bold statements that simply do not stand up to investigation of the actual facts. Yet they never develop a little humility, they just "double down" and refuse to change their worldview in the face of evidence that contradicts it.

I blame the media to a great extent. Trained journalists seem to be taught that they don't have to make any effort at all to find out whether a statement is true or not, as long as they "balance" it with an opposing point of view. That's why, for example, the Mercury keeps giving a platform to climate change deniers. If journalists and editors ever developed anything like an ethical code of conduct with regard to this sort of thing, I suspect that a huge amount of the air would be drained from the entire populist movement.

Agreed, Bill. I've noticed this myself. When 95 percent of climate scientists concur on climate change why do the media feel the need to say experts are "divided" and give equal time and space to both viewpoints?

But the general thing with conservative thought is that they take extremely complex and multi-layered issues and dumb them down to simple ones and try to apply simple "common sense" solutions that (not surprisingly) never work in practice. This is why they're always equating government fiscal policy with running a business, or even worse, running a household budget. The media should be smart enough to call them on their deceptions but never do for fear of appearing biased.
I've been trying to call out the Merc's misleading and mathematically incorrect definition of "tax increase" every year around this time and they still refuse to report it correctly. I don't know if they're stubborn, mathematically illiterate, or just like the newspaper-selling aspect of taxpayer outrage.

And Liberals why I seem to have issues with them is because the moment one forms an opinion on something a liberal claims that they are 'racist, sexist, islamophobic, homophobic, and xenophobic' and that Liz Sandals gave us the runaround about Lyme disease, that b*tch should get her a-- educated on it and its sad that she somehow became education minister.

As for city council, we can't keep on defending them if they keep on making stupid decisions people can only tolerate it so much, and many people are currently counting down the days to when Farbridge loses the next election.

"I'm curious to know the full story on why Gerry no longer works for the Merc. Any insight on that?" -- Jeff


1. What would you be looking for as part of the "full story"?

2. Curious that you are interested in knowing the "full story" about why someone is no longer writing for the Mercury -- is it also true that you are interested in knowing "the full story" of why certain staff no longer work for the City? Or perhaps that doesn't interest you?

3. Gerry has a comment section on his blog -- I suppose you could have asked him that yourself, assuming you haven't already. But you probably already knew that.

This redirection seems to be the kind of game-playing that rubs the public the wrong way.

I salute calls for accountability and transparency, but how this can be brought about by using misdirection and obfuscation is beyond my reckoning.

I stopped coming here years ago looking for actual information. It's more of a forum for rants and general inanity. Dissension is met with hostility and real debate is near impossible.

It's the comments like Louis' above that really illustrate my observations. He can't make his point without resorting to vulgarity.

"I'm curious to know the full story on why Gerry no longer works for the Merc. Any insight on that?" -- Jeff
Craig Chamberlain suggests you ask Gerry on his blog. Yeah, that will give you one side of the story.

For the "full story" I suggest to dig out Gerry Barker's stories from the Merc archives. Enuf said.

Dennis, surely you aren't suggesting "Jeff" is actually expecting to get the "full story" via an inquiry on this forum, or at least he shouldn't be. Of course you aren't, right?

So, what about his post, then?

Jeff's comment was a drive-by on his part, which I think was obvious to most, and that's what he's being called on, and unfortunately, you didn't distance yourself from it -- which is in all sincerity, disappointing.

Actually, a quick Google search pretty much answered "Jeff"'s query, and yes it does come from Gerry's blog:


For five years I have been writing a column on the Mercury editorial page. My association became challenged just before the 2010 election when I was told I could not write a column that was biased against “you know who.” Following the election my columns, mostly critical of the Farbridge council, were regularly challenged or dropped altogether.

I wasn’t surprised when informed by e-mail that the column was finished. The added touch was that I should feel free to submit letters to the editor or the occasional guest column when the muse sparked.



Please note exactly the reason that Gerry cites, "I was told I could not write a column that was biased against 'you know who.'” Even in an opinion column it is unethical to write biased pieces for a newspaper. If you cannot come up with logical arguments or facts in support of your position, you are writing journalism, you are writing vendictive propaganda.

Alas, I meant to write in the last post "you are _not_ writing journalism, you are writing vendictive propaganda".

Bull***t Hulet
Gerry's column was the only thing worth reading in that rag. He actually questioned the company line; you know not just smile and wave.


Yes, another insightful comment that furthers the public conversation----.

I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don't know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren't already ;) Cheers!

So you delete the post complaining about all the spam but leave the spam....nice. Bring back Scott

Bill, you have to admit that there seem to be very few articles in our local papers that are in any way critical of the Mayor, but different rules apply for members of Council. At least level the playing field: if councilors are fair game for innuendo, why not the Mayor?

Informative article, just what I wanted to find.

Bill Hulet, there are those of us who want less government and lower taxes and are not right wing by any means. Many of us have become distrusting of govenment of all levels. For this we get called pejoratives by people like yourself.

Names like "Rethuglicans", "teabaggers", "right-wing populists" etc, etc.

One thing you need to be aware of is that the more that people like you call people names, the more you are actually driving many of us into the welcoming arms of candidates like Ford, Hudak, Harris, Harper etc.

One of the big reasons for the rise in these types of candidates is the puerile intolerance of the left for anyone who does not toe the party line or sees the world differently.

Something to think about.

calin: We have an imperfect way of describing political ideology but wanting less government and lower taxes is the most common definition of "right wing".

I can't speak for Bill but the terms he used actually do apply to some pretty reprehensible politicians and their followers. If you don't consider yourself one of them then maybe he's not addressing you with those names.
And if you're truly not and you feel yourself being driven toward Ford, Hudak and Harper, well, you're only hurting yourself because I can almost guarantee that none of them have your best interests at heart.

yea but look at what Farbridge has promised, she promised a lot of stuff but never delivered, its pretty much secrets, lies and no replies 2.0

Steve, I wouldn't call wanting less government "right-wing", but non-interventionist. Right-wing to me is analogous to authoritarian (like Harper for eg).

Conservative would be more appropriate. But these labels have become so malleable, they are almost meaningless. (look at Obama, a Democratic President, killing innocent civilians with drone strikes and jailing people without due process/habeas corpus etc, while still being called "progressive" by his sycophants).

These terms are all fictions meant to divide us at this point. And its likely all no more real than pro wrestling.

I sure wouldn't vote for any of those names I put out there. Truth is that I don't really like either of my choices. The "right" with their might-makes-right mindset, want to tell us what to do; the "left" with their hive-minded political correctness and contrived moral outrage about every thing under the sun, want to tell us what to think.

Both are guilty of the same levels of waste and cronyism, (and driven by neo-liberalism). We see this from our Senate scandals to local governments across the country (look at London's mayor's shenanigans for eg).

Many of us are disaffected largely because of this sham. Record low voter turnout is a good barometer of this.

Introducing mandatory recall laws in every jurisdiction, when elected officials run afoul would be a good start. Simple, break the law, break your promises, engage in cronyism/corruption, you're fired. Same goes for public employees, especially those Sunshine Listers in management.

Wow, good posts Calin.

Left/Right/Authoritarian/Libertarian labels are used by politicalcompass.org, seen here for Canadian national parties:

I don't disagree with a lot of what you're saying...corruption, cronyism, and the like are seen across the spectrum. And none of the parties match my views completely which is why I don't join any party or align myself with any candidate or leader.

But I don't think recall is the answer...at least not as it's currently practiced. There was a case just last week in Colorado where two state senators who sponsored and passed a gun control law (supported by 80% of voters, according to polls) were recalled by less than 11% of eligible voters because so few people bothered to vote in the recall election. Not exactly democracy in action.

Recall has to be carefully set up, yes Steve -- it shouldn't be about changing an election outcome based on a difference in politics (and the provincial and federal government does have to survive "confidence votes"). I'm not sure that Calin is suggesting otherwise.

Recall should be about allowing the electorate to press the reset button on whom they've elected in matters that involve grievous misconduct that falls short of being illegal -- something beyond some form of censure within the government. But it shouldn't be set up in a way that allows groups to go back and forth between elections, removing someone whose politics they disagree with.

There has to be integrity to election outcomes.

Steve, as I am sure you know, Bob Bell and Jim Furfaro were elected to Council in 2010 with only 1,759 and 1,696 votes, respectively, about 20% and 19% of those cast in their ward. Now, I do not know what turnout was in Ward 1, but given that overall, citywide turnout was 33.9%, that would suggest that Bob and Jim were both likely elected with considerably less than 10% support of those eligible to vote in their ward.

So, while you suggest it is ridiculous to recall an elected official with 11% of those eligible actually chiming in, I would suggest back, that it is equally ridiculous to think someone elected with such minimal support in the first place is not beyond recall by a comparable proportion of voters.

oops, "not beyond recall" should just be "beyond recall" ...

Steve, what I was suggesting is to change the relationship between voters and public servants to one of employers/employees.

The premise is that the whole of the public sector should work as in the private sector: if you dont' do your job, you're out the door.

Apply it to politicians *and* senior pubic sector management (far too often the front line workers and unions are blamed for poor management).

We need to break the dishonest and parasitic cycle of revolving door cronyism and empty promises with no repercussions.

Recall is a great idea if properly thought out. Low voter turnout is another issue, albeit a serious one. We can build a better, more democratic system, which will hopefully make people feel that they want to be a part of.

Another example of everything that's wrong with our system:


Someone like her seeks a position of power over us, based on empty slogans like "restoring the middle class" etc.. So voters vote her in (ie "hire her to do the job") and her position comes with zero strings for another 4 years. This is not good enough.

I'm all for election reform, especially getting rid of the first-past-the-post system of minority rule. Instant-runoff is a far superior method.
I'm also all for accountability, so no arguments on that front...I'm just saying we need to be very careful about how we implement it so we don't cause more problems than we're solving. Adding more and more opportunities to vote will, in my opinion, only lead to voter fatigue and even lower turnout.
As for the employer/employee relationship, that's precisely what out current system is *supposed* to be. Councillors are the chosen representatives of the citizens (the employers) and give oversight to the city staff (the employees). Our powers over those representatives unfortunately only comes at election time. How do we increase that authority? More frequent elections? Mandatory voting?

Asking questions are actually good thing if you are not understanding anything fully, except this post presents pleasant understanding yet.

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Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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About Chris

  • Chris Herhalt
    covers municipal affairs and politics for the Guelph Mercury. Prior to joining the Mercury he worked at The Record of Waterloo Region and at The Canadian Press. He can be reached at cherhalt@guelphmercury.com