Columnist Ray Rivers has taken a deserved vacation - roaring around his farm on a tractor cutting walking trails.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 16th, 2016



Where is Ray?

For many Gazette readers Ray Rivers had become a Friday habit – his views on matters federal, provincial and from time to time international have appeared in the Gazette for more than three years.

I first met Rivers when he was talking to a group of Liberals who used to meet regularly at Artisano’s. I liked what I heard Rivers saying a found a way to strike up a conversation. That led to his writing for the Gazette.

Rivers goes fishing NZ - Jan 2015

Rivers tries to get to New Zealand once a year – relaxes with family and gets in a little fishing. His daughter returned to Canada with he husband and their children. Ray is working on making a good hockey fan out of at least the grandson.

This summer Rivers and I decided that a full break for a month or more was well deserved – and except for one occasion when he had to say something about the Brexit mess in the United Kingdom, Rivers has behaved and worked with tools on his farm in Mountsburg rather than the keyboard on his computer.

There is a tree lot that needs some pruning and a new deck for the hot tub. Grass to be cut with the mower that Rivers treats as something you drive at a NASCAR event and the chicken coop needs a good clean up.

Rivers reading a newspaper Jan 3-15

Rivers is incapable of getting through a day without reading at last one newspaper.

So – for those who wonder where Rivers is – it isn’t quite “gone fishing” but it is a respite from a task that can get onerous. Writing a column every week is demanding.

Rivers and I usually have a short conversation about what he would like to write on – we exchange ideas and I pretty well leave him to his own devices. It is the readers that keep him on his toes.

There are about a dozen that watch what he writes very carefully. It did take a while for Gazette readers to fully appreciate that Rivers was a columnist with a view point. Several complained that he was a Liberal and therefore shouldn’t be writing articles.

He is certainly a Liberal and a liberal as well – and that was the point. The Gazette wanted someone with a clear point of view. We also wanted a strong Conservative and talked to a number of people who could have filled that role – none chose to step up the plate.
Public opinion needs to be informed and the exchange of views is part of what informs people. It took us some time to bleed out the more raucous comments that used to appear in the Gazette.

This is not yet a city with a clear understanding of how important it is to keep the public informed and to do so as transparently as possible.

Rivers, who has consistently written a column with often extensive links to other material that few columnists provide.

Rivers on a beach in NZ

With the New Zealand part of the family now on Canadian soil Rivers can see his grandchildren whenever he wants.

Rivers will be back in the fall – we expect him to have something to say about both the Republican and Democratic conventions taking place in the United States and how our federal and provincial governments are doing in this country.

The Gazette is fortunate to have Rivers as part of the editorial team – Burlington doesn’t yet fully appreciate the contribution he makes – which isn’t about what he actually writes – but about the fact that he does write. The city badly needs a public that is informed and is prepared to speak out.

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