Most of the Gazette readers do so daily; the comments they make are interesting.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 7, 2015


Response to our readership survey is doing well.

Survey - readership frequency  Feb 7-15

We’d like to convert those weekly and every three day people to daily readers. The monthly readers were all residents somewhere other than Canada. Snowbirds maybe?

We asked our readers what they think of the work we do and what they would like to see more of and what they would like to see less of. The survey will stay up for 21 days – and then we will publish the results.

One thread that is consistent is the reaction to opinion pieces that are clearly political. We have two people who write a “column”. We don’t tell the columnist what to write; each one comes up with ideas of their own and they run them by the publisher. I get to say Yes or No.

Columnists are people with opinions, insight and experience. They are a critical part of a civilized dialogue that needs to take place in every community. The work done by a “columnist” is not reporting nor is it journalism. It is comment and opinion.

On a number of occasions we have run pieces offered to us by people running for office. We think it important that anyone running for office be given an opportunity to get their ideas out to the public. We were not interested in their ‘platform’ but we were interested in their thinking process. There were more than a dozen that were offered to us during the last election that we turned down – not because of the candidate but for what they had written. Most just gave us their platform – that’s advertising. We were interested in think pieces.

We also interview candidates and elected officials.  During the last election two candidates refused to be interviewed.

A number of people made comments on these political viewpoints. We have reproduced several below and have added our own commits to the views these readers have expressed. We’ve not used the names of the writers but have put in initials to separate the views of one writer from those of another.

JF: “I agree that the coverage of City Hall is the strength of the Gazette. It fills a void. It does it well.
I get annoyed when they write upon or “create” Federal “issues” with the well-known Liberal Propaganda slant. It is not helpful. It simply comes across as a blowhard bravado and the motives are obvious. The Liberal Party echo chamber loves it, but it is of little value to the community. Zero value to journalism.”

This writer seems to not appreciate that the writer is a columnist – sharing an idea or a concept or a criticism. Yes, Ray Rivers is a known Liberal and writes from that vantage. Mike Wallace is Burlington’s MP – when he distributes his newsletter door to door you know that he is going to tout the Conservative party line – that what he is – a Conservative.

“When we can discuss and debate issues with a non-partisan perspective, value is added. When the so-called “debate” is simply to retort to the Liberal Party position on something Ray or Pepper have concocted, it is just that. A retort.”

We don`t for a second think a partisan comment does not add to the debate. The Conservatives fought hard to create the CBC; the Liberals fought hard to end capital punishment. Were these `partisan` issues?

“I know what to expect if I buy Torstar papers vs the National Post. I know what to expect if I watch CBC rather than Sun News. Is this what we want the Gazette to evolve into?”

Burlington does seem to have a problem with independent opinion. Ray Rivers is a Liberal, always has been. Thinks marijuana should be legal -the publisher disagrees with him and that the Senate should be abolished – again the publisher disagrees with Rivers.

I hope that as publisher of the Gazette we offer our opinions and make certain that there is space for people with other opinions. There are a couple of genuine nut cases out there that we don’t publish.

“Completed the survey, but disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to comment on the op ed-style pieces written by Ray Rivers and various candidates, including the Liberal candidate for the provincial riding. Very politically biased writing. Certainly not balanced reporting or opinions. The Gazette is more of a Liberal mouthpiece than The Star.”

DD: “The blatant Liberal propaganda and negative representation of other parties is a little bias for my taste but it is your Gazette (I did agree with Ray just recently……… perhaps the blog is working).”

We were asked why there was not a regular column from a Conservative. Russ Campbell produced a few for us – but he decided he would rather publish his own material. We have approached a few “died in the wool” Conservatives – no takers yet.


From the left: MP Mike Wallace proudly displaying the Book of Best Wishes that went to the Prince as a first birthday card, Councillor Jack Dennison, Joe Veitch, without whom the Book of Best Wishes would never have been done; Mayor Rick Goldring who was an early supporter of the project, Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, originator of the Book of Best Wishes idea and publisher of the Gazette, Councillors John Taylor and Rick Craven.

What we don’t want is material sent to us by either the MP or the MPP that someone in Ottawa or Queens Park wrote for them. We are interested in publishing viewpoints that stir debate and bring forward fresh ideas that can be defended.

We get material from the provincial government daily. The local MP seems to have forgotten our address – but when there was a photo opportunity – he was front and centre – actually on the left in this photograph.



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7 comments to Most of the Gazette readers do so daily; the comments they make are interesting.

  • Zaffi

    Well said Mr. Rivers. Keep true to your convictions and keep writing. Through debate people learn from each other and discover new ideas. Innovation, progress and betterment doesn’t usually occur when everyone agrees.

  • Ray Rivers

    Thanks for your comments everyone. The bio at the end of each column identifies that I once ran as a Liberal, and as one reader points out, I recently became the president for the new federal riding of Flamborough-Glanbrook. Clearly I tend to look at issues from that perspective and I make no apologies for my allegiance to a political entity more in-line with my beliefs than the Conservative Party, the NDP or the Bloc Quebecois.

    While my writing tries to point out what I believe to be right, I will not prostitute myself – promoting something I don’t believe in. I research each topic before I write it and check and recheck the facts to minimize making an error in my argument or logic. Clearly most of the references support my argument – that is how I got to my conclusions. But I often try to present alternate sources which may differ with my take on a subject.

    And I am not a slave to the Liberal party, having criticized both federal and political arms of the party for their actions when in power. For example I have complained about the previous provincial government’s costly decision to scrap the gas plants. I also have complimented former finance Conservative minister Flaherty for abolishing the income trusts and for cutting the GST when the Harper government first came into power. I complimented the PM for his stand on Ukraine.

    As a columnist I see my role to interpret the consequences of government policy – not merely to report on it. I respect that I may offend some readers if I criticize some policy or the person leading that policy, especially if the reader has a commitment to that person or his/her party. My column on John Baird was well grounded in fact, not emotion. I had never met the man and I accept that some people hold a high opinion of him – I merely challenged those readers to defend that perspective with facts.

    I enjoy reading your comments whether you agree with me or not – it is important that you continue to let your voice be heard, particularly if you disagree with me. A free and respectful exchange of ideas will only make our democracy work better.

    Thank you for reading,


    • Anthony Pullin

      Ray, the first time I ever saw your BIO say that you ran as a Liberal was today, in your most recent article. Not before.

  • Anthony Pullin

    In reference to the publishers rebuttal to commentor/writer JF which reads:
    “This writer seems to not appreciate that [Ray Rivers] is a columnist – sharing an idea or a concept or a criticism. Yes, Ray Rivers is a known Liberal and writes from that vantage. Mike Wallace is Burlington’s MP – when he distributes his newsletter door to door you know that he is going to tout the Conservative party line – that what he is – a Conservative.”

    The commentor which your refer to, JF, surely understands that Mr. Rivers is a “columnist”. His assertion of a “propeganda slant” is completely fair. It is questionable that Mr. Rivers is a “known Liberal”. Why would a first time reader (or most people) know that? I suggested some weeks ago that Mr. Rivers change his BIO to reflect that he is indeed President for the Flamborough-Glanbrook Federal Liberal Riding Association. In fact, since you mention Russ Campbell, (who writes a Conservative blog)he has an essay in his header menu on “being Conservative”. He makes no bones about what he represents or why.
    Further, when Mike Wallace, or Eleanor McMahon or Justin Trudeau or Roto-rooter hang a door hanger, it identifies who they are, and what affiliation is. It says MPP or MP, Liberal, Conservative, Pizza Pizza, or whatever.
    I’m all for opinions, discussions, counterpoints, etc. I support and generally revere our political system. I think Mr. Rivers needs to make a concise declaration of what his affiliation to his Party of choice is, and has been, while he writes a column in the Gazette. I was turned off by Mr. Rivers column about John Baird this last week. Providing links “open secret” and “protecting Baird” were unnecessary within the context of the column.
    Partisanship within the media really bothers me. It’s not always what you say, its what you don’t say. It is called selective omission, which is most definitely a form of propeganda. All major new-media outlets are perpetrators. The most egregious being the CBC (by virtue of their reliance on the taxpayer’s dollar). I’m hoping the Burlington Gazette can be different, at least for a while.

  • Zaffi

    Mr. Rivers is a columnist and happens to be a Liberal. He has that right does he not? I have read many op-ed pieces/essays written by various politicians in many different papers over the decades.

    I think it is unfair to criticize Ray and the Gazette of being overtly biased when it appears no one else is willing to step up and commit to a column of their own. Commenting on a columnist’s piece is easy. Committing to writing a column takes work and the courage to put your thoughts out there for public scrutiny.

    • Anthony Pullin

      I’m not sure anybody suggested “overtly” biased. JF’s words “comes across” = inference = covert, if that is what you were referring to. It is surely fair to criticize any news media without being compelled to write a column. Commenting on a columnist’s piece is anything but easy, and also exposes one to public scrutiny.

  • Rob

    I agree with DG, that Ray River’s articles are so politically biased that I’ve stopped reading them. Get a balanced perspective or you will lose any editorial creditability.