Our daily newspaper each year selects citizens to sit on its Community Editorial Board (CEB). Invitations go out and the final groups of successful candidates earn the right to speak their opinions in the public prints.
Since the newspaper, following the re-election of Mayor Farbridge’s majority Group of Eight, turned its point of view to the left of the political spectrum it attracted a number of commentators who espouse radical and far-left beliefs.
Now the newspaper has every right to pick whomever it chooses for the CEB.
But don’t try to sell readers on the squirrely ramblings of the disaffected and sometimes articulate spokespersons and their opinions on how our society must change. It’s arrogant to the majority of readers who will never share these beliefs.
Doubtless the chiefs who are in charge of the two Guelph newspapers feel they are obligated to allow different points of view to be expressed on their newsprint. After all they own it.
Where does this leave the reader? Probably confused, depending on your understanding of the facts.
This week, Matt Soltys, a member of the CEB wrote in the Mercury his revised version of what happened in the summer of 2009, when a so-called group of activists stopped construction in the city-owned Hanlon Business Park.
Soltys was named in a $5 million city-sponsored lawsuit against these urban terrorists whose action cost the city more than a million dollars in delayed construction, legal and police costs. The suit was dropped last month. The capper came in August 2009 when city dignitaries were exposed to insults, expletives and spitting by this same group when they attended the official opening of the park. Guelph police videotaped the assault.
For Soltys to claim now that this group of urban terrorists had the support of thousands. Really? How was that conclusion reached? Did his group hire a polling company to prove they were right and the rest of us were wrong.
But the plot thickens. Move now to June 2010 and black-masked rioters destroyed shops and police cars in downtown Toronto during the G20 meetings. It now appears that at least two of those involved in the Hanlon Park occupation have been convicted to leading and encouraging the rioters to disrupt the world leaders’ meetings.
Last year, Ben Bennett, the individual paid by the unions to stop Walmart from coming to Guelph was a member of the CEB. We now know how that worked out for him.
Then we have Susan Ratcliffe, whose recent diatribe about preservation of heritage properties went over the top, is another CEB contributor.
Finally we have Shawn Van Sluys, executive director of Musagetes spouting his philosophy of the role of art and culture in a city in transition. He cautioned the first task of his organization is to determine IF the city is in transition.
Why is Guelph such a magnet for these people who have no political base, no power but create a lot of noise to make their point?
But do they have a political base? Interestingly the Guelph Civic League through its subsidiary 10 Carden Street, plays a behind the scenes role in supporting Musagetes and fellow travelers.
The irony is that Mayor Farbridge, who is indebted to the Guelph Civic League has to keep hands off. To associate with urban terrorists and out-of-town activists is not a recipe for smart politics. And right now, she needs all the support she can get from the great majority of Guelph taxpayers.
Sorry Matt, your version of what happened in 2009 is a myth and the taxpayers paid the price.