Fresh faces and new blood are part of the campaign to elect the next city council.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 14th, 2018



We do politics differently in Burlington.

Somewhere along the way the Tory’s in Burlington came to the conclusion that the Gazette was a Liberal newspaper and decided that they would not keep us aware of their events.

We are frequently able to dig up some of what they are doing. We hear from the other political parties.

This “shyness” on the part of some of those elected to office is disturbing.

The politicians seem to feel that we are supposed to write nice thing about them – and on many occasions a piece of reporting does put the politician in a positive light.

At the municipal level we used to meet for lunch on occasion with several of the members of council. We have done tours of a ward with Council members. When the news is critical or points out a short-coming – the lip curls.

The Mayor decided some time ago that the Gazette is biased and unfair. We didn’t hear that from Rick Goldring during his first term of office. His 59 second comment on how good a job the Gazette was doing was a little embarrassing. The comments were made during Goldring’s first term. He had a change of mind during his second term. In the world of politics the relationship with media is often fractious. Rather than invite media into their office and talk through the concern – in Burlington they decide that you’re biased.

The politicians and many of the civil servants don’t understand media and the role it plays. Behind that is the lack of an understanding of what their own role really is – they are there to serve. It is an honourable profession – many – not all, fail to honour the work they do and they diminish themselves in the process.

We are all accountable.

The Gazette gets it in the ear from readers and we publish what they say. We are members of the National NewsMedia Council – we pay an annual fee to that organization – it amounts to more than my monthly rent – and when someone takes a complaint to the Council we are required to respond and if the Council comes to the conclusion we made a mistake and were wrong we have to publish that finding. They are in the archives.

When Mike Wallace was the Member of Parliament he got very upset with the articles we wrote when he was mismanaging the flow of information at a parliamentary committee. Politics is the art of the possible between competing interests. The role of the politician is to listen, and ensure that the interests of the public are heard, understood and acted upon.

Recently we have heard politicians say that they are not hearing from the “majority” – they seem to feel that if they don’t hear from half the population then those who do speak up are just cranks who don’t like the idea of change – the nimby’s.

Flood Goldring with chain of office

The Mayor wasn’t comfortable enough with the Chain of Office to wear i outside th Council Chamber during his first term. He wore it for a TV interview in his second term.

Early in his first term of office we recall a conversation with the Mayor and how people interacted with him in a supermarket or on the street – he was surprised that they saw him as someone special. A Mayor is the Chief Magistrate – what people are responding to is the office of the Mayor and the role a Mayor plays. The fact that it is Rick Golding is not the issue.

The public expects their Mayor to lead and to be seen as a leader.

The tension between Councillors Meed Ward and Craven is close to measurable, Neither has ever been a fan of the other and on Monday evening the feelings got spilled onto the horseshoe of the Council chamber

The tension between Councillors Meed Ward and Craven is close to measurable, Neither has ever been a fan of the other.

We have heard members of the current city council squabble like children over whether or not the Councillor for ward 2 can involve herself in anything that takes place in ward 1. Every member of the Burlington city council is also a member of Regional council where they represent the city – not just a ward.

During the working through the 2010 Strategic Plan I was approached by a member of council – no need to embarrass the member at this point, who said “You should do something about Meed Ward”. I was stunned – did this member really think the role of media was to go gunning for a member of council?

The job is to report on what city council does and to hold them accountable and to put what they say and do in context and to remind them what they had said previously.

The Gazette also provides a forum for anyone to make a comment on a specific news story. Some of the comments don’t get published – I am constantly surprised at how nasty some people choose to be. Our experience has been that the really nasty ones come from an email address that cannot be verified.

Jim Young answering RG

Jim Young

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie

We have been very proud to have been able to publish the delegations made by Jim Young and Gary Scobie and Dee Dee Davies; less proud when we were required to publish situations where we were wrong.

Saying we are exceptionally under-resourced may be true but I isn’t an excuse.

Many of the politicians in this city seem to feel that media is in place to publish what they write and not ask any questions. Who taught them that?

City Council talks about transparency and accountability and seem to feel that if they say they are accountable and transparent – then they are. When more than 30 people delegate on an issue that argument gets shot full of holes and the wind is taken out of the sails.

While the provincial election is taking up most of the oxygen and attention it is worth noting that there are now four new candidates under 40 and a fifth expected later this week.

Two of the incumbents have chosen to retire.

There is a change in the air – new blood and fresh faces.

Salt with Pepper is a column of opinion, reflection, observation and musings of the Gazette Publisher.

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3 comments to Fresh faces and new blood are part of the campaign to elect the next city council.

  • D Walker

    Hearing that Mike Wallace was upset by your reporting makes me wonder if he knows what he’s getting into by running for Mayor. If he didn’t enjoy your reporting while he was MP, I doubt he’ll enjoy it any more if he becomes Mayor.

    Thanks for always reporting all sides.

  • Joan Gallagher Bell

    Great review as always. Now I am going to speak from my shoes. News is to be shared good or bad. How else do we find out what is happening in good old Burlington? Mayor Goldring is a very good person. The others on Council are good in their own right. Looking to the future within Burlington politicians either federal, provincial or municipal new blood is a definite need. The media…Gazette is a good source of free advertisement. Forgot that did politicians?

  • Allen Jones

    Great recap of what should be … BRAVO