Twins: The Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Davito of two newspapers

Posted January 27, 2014

The Hamilton Spectator and Guelph Mercury have the same corporate ownership. In a recent commentary, the Spectator’s editor-in-chief, Paul Berton, enlightened readers of the newspapers’ role in covering the next municipal election.

His piece outlined the policy of the Spectator in which the paper wants to ensure that voters are well informed about their community.

“Voters who know their community make good political choices, and good political choices make for healthy, prosperous and progressive communities.

“This is the true raison d’etre of newspapers such as the Spectator. It is the most important thing we do. We want people, whatever their political stripes, to understand the issues and from as many sides as possible,” Mr. Berton stated.

Now that seems crystal clear.

Compare that statement with the deathly silence on the subject from the Guelph Mercury’s editor-in-chief, Lynn Haddrell. She’s also editor-in-chief of the Record in Kitchener/Waterloo.

In fact, the Mercury has adopted an editorial policy that supports Mayor Farbridge’s administration right down the line. Can you image the paper examining the issues from all sides?

When was the last time that happened in the pages of the Mercury?

Is it possible that there is a great divide about fair and complete editorial coverage between the Hamilton Spectator and Guelph Mercury?

While the two papers are corporate twins, guess which one is compared to Schwarzenegger and the other Davito (with apologies to Mr. Davito)?

The Mercury is dependent on city hall press releases and discussions with staff and elected officials. Despite an open policy of letters to the editor, it rarely challenges the administration statements in the news or opinion pages. The paper’s community editorial board is dominated by supporters of the Farbridge regime.

For example why hasn’t the Mercury investigated the costs of the Waste Innovation Resource Centre? There are a number of questions that should be asked about this huge citizens’ investment. Instead we get a six-part series on waste management that pandered to the governing party’s agenda.

The laughable part was Mayor Farbridge being quoted in the first installment that she “didn’t believe waste management would be an issue in the 2014 elections.”

So when a citizens group in the city requests an audit of the city’s finances and operation by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Mercury waits five days before asking for an interview with the organization’s spokesperson.

Then in a fit of fair play, the resulting story also included the mayor’s comments denying the audit details. Subsequently, the Ministry officials confirmed the accuracy of the petition numbers. Yet the Mercury failed to report these facts.

Since last October, the Mercury has not written one word about the citizen’s organization, it membership, its goals or its plans. As far as the Mercury is concerned, GrassRoots Guelph doesn’t exist.

Ah, but coverage of the Guelph Civic League is friendly and frequent.  There a number of questions the paper should be asking the GCL about its goals, purpose, finances, membership and, most importantly, its history.

Mr. Berton summed it up quite nicely: “It’s simply not true that you can’t fight city hall.”

How about you?  Join the growing chorus of citizens who seek a more balanced city council where business is conducted in public. GrassRoots Guelph is a non-partisan cooperative that includes all citizens and not just the chosen few. Drop into and participate. Be an informed citizen working with neighbours and friends to create a new direction for our city.


Filed under Between the Lines

15 responses to “Twins: The Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Davito of two newspapers

  1. boomer

    left wing paper, left wing Mayor and members of council–pretty simple math.
    this administration is at an all time low. they’ve lost sight of the fact that this city HAS to be run like a business, cheques in, cheque out-maintain healthy balance sheet and look at the whole picture and not the partial one that includes vested interests, special interest groups etc. Represent the electorate as a whole with decisions that make sense. Don’t be self serving and don’t bullsh*t us, transparency does not exist in our municipal govt.
    Say what they want-it’s not there. Too much is covered up.

  2. andy

    The Mercury has always been centre to left on politics and never strays to far centre to right. Wonder how big of a client the city is? I remember when they made an activist the newsmaker of the year. The same guy who held up a industrial development that cost tax payers millions. At least they do not phone for a subscription anymorem


    I noted that 10 CARDIN STREET whatever that is received a couple of thousand dollars in a City-sponsored grant.This wouldn’t be a cover for the GCL would it?

    • boomer

      Yes it is David, The same group that said they were not politically affiliated in any way when Kate was defeated…yet they had phone blitzes in wards where they wanted ‘their’ people.


    boomer:BOOM!!! 😦 Tell me it’s not true-where would such a grant show up on a municipal candidate’s financial declaration,if at all and would the donor be shown as the City of GUELPH ?

    • David Birtwistle: Goodness, as the late Mae West used to say, had nothing to do with it! This group is a political action organization bent on maintaining the power of an administration that is devoid of conscience, fiscal responsibility and self centered actions that impact the entire Guelph nation. They have no idea of what the majority of this city’s citizens need and aspire to. They are like carrion seeking to fulfill their narrow views and self-interests running our city.

  5. Oracle

    Or as one J.C. of Nazareth said – “Forgive them Father for they Know Not what they Do”!
    The only trouble with that comment is – not only are they unaware – but they also perform Badly!! Unfortunately it is a case that if you ignore them, they will not go away, so are only saving is to eIiminate them at the ballot box

  6. geo

    Now there going to print this rag in Hamilton.
    It’s official now the Guelph Mercury serves no useful purpose.

  7. John

    It isn’t hard to use Google to find the 10 Carden website and see what it is. It is not a subsidiary of the GCL. GCL is a member organization of 10 Carden along with a number of other member organizations. The GCL uses their facilities for meetings etc. It is not a cover for the GCL. In case you didn’t know, the GCL is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Does that make the Chamber a cover for the GCL as well? The Chamber also had the mayor present her state of the city address to its members. Does that make the Chamber in charge of the mayor’s election campaign? Oh and Cam Guthrie often attends GCL meetings,such as it’s AGM and new website launch, even going so far as to tweet from them. Maybe the GCL is secretly backing Cam Guthrie as a lamb in conservative clothing.

    • John: I don’t know how long you have been a member of the taxpayer-funded Guelph Civic league and its cousin, 10 Carden Street, but people are not fooled about the political direction of the GCL. You represent a political front organization for the current city administration. As such, this blog is not in the business of promoting GCL or its causes, so goodbye. Suggest you buy an ad to preach your message.

  8. Jon Frank

    Gerry I am a little surprised at the hostility you are showing to John! He does raise a fair point– you said very clearly that the fact that the GCL hosted a State of the City means they’re managing the mayor’s re-election. Lots of other organizations host this speech. I actually rmemeber the big kick off one she gave to the chamber when it made the news for the first time. So they’re also managing her election? All he did was follow your statement one very small step to its logical conclusion and you told him to get off your blog. What gives?

    I made a comment on here a few months ago about people like me being a “target market” for you… by that I meant that I’m in the mushy middle / am an undecided voter for this coming election… you’re asking people to join the movement but are pretty aggressive in tearing down people who don’t toe the line and hate everything that you hate.

    I ask you, sincerely, as someone who is legitimately concerned about some of the issues that are listed on the GRG site, what is the incentive for me to get involved with the organization? You claim other viewpoints are welcome but I don’t think that what I see here on the blog validates that.

    I’d never heard of 10 Carden until I googled it just now. It does not seem to be what you’re saying it is, which I am neither here nor there on. But why not just clarify what you mean instead of tearing this guy down?

    It makes me think that if I don’t fully subscribe to the orthodoxy that I will not be welcome.

    It’s your show so run it how you like. But to be effective you’re going to need all those swing voters like me. So here’s my two cents. If you want to build something you’ve got to be more accommodating to people. You can’t tear everyone down who isn’t 100% “on side”. Otherwise you’ll do more harm than good to the issues that GRG raises.

    • Jon Frank: Hey what do think this is? A Buckingham Palace garden party? What other organizations hosted the Mayor’s State of the City address promoted by the civic league and the local daily paper? And 40 persons attended. As I have repeatedly stated. This blog does not promote the “Values” of the GCL. For seven years the citizens have had a belly-full of these “values” and the disastrous outcome of governance.

      GrassRoots Guelph has made it abundantly clear where its stands on the serious issues facing the city and its citizens. People are entitled to make up their mind as to whether they want more of the same, i.e. the Farbridge administration, or take a different direction to clean up the mess.

      Here’s a history lesson for you. the 10 Carden Street organization received a Trillium Foundation grant for $135,000. Few citizens understand why this occurred except that the offices of this organization is shared by the Guelph Civic League. Is this not funded by the taxpayers?

      This is not about orthodoxy, so don’t stick that on GrassRoot Guelph. We welcome those folks who realize that there must be a new direction for our city to reduce the capital spending, lower the property tax rates and bring common sense and order to the city finances.

      That’s why after some years of research by qualified financial analysts, we presented a petition to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing requesting an independent audit of the city’s finances and operations. We stand by our numbers that have been confirmed by Ministry officials. The investigation continues.

      Next October, the people will decide.

  9. Douglas

    Anyone who has been following Guelph politics knows that 10 Carden Street and the Guelph Civic League are the same group with the same goals, just under two different name covers.

    It is an activist organization which was originally established and continues to promote the far left Farbridge special interest group agenda.

    • Jon Frank

      I follow Guelph politics. I did not “know” that. Am I stupid?

      This is what I mean about the orthodoxy… I live in the south end and am retired. I care a lot about taxes, city debt and the peacefulness (or otherwise) of my neighbourhood.

      Pitch me, Gerry and co. Why is grg the place for me? I fear I am too much of a free thinker. I’m being serious here, I am genuinely curious.

    • Jon Frank: Join GRG and learn how a new direction is underway in our city. You are obviously reading guelphspeaks so you may understand after 426 posts over the past two and half years that something is not right in “wonderland.” If you’ve lived here for the last 11 years, you’ll hopefully get it. Go to and check out the petition presented to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that has been accepted by the Minister and is now under investigation. You should be questioning why their administration promised to build a new downtown library in 2006 and put a new South-end recreation centre in the capital budget, why neither has happened in seven years? You can also question why citizens have to spend $34 million on a new police headquarters that was originally budgeted at $13.3 million. Or how about the $40 million spent on the Hanlon Business Park that has attracted three businesses in seven years? If you are serious about GRG, welcome aboard.

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