That media corporate giant sucking sound has changed Guelph forever

By Gerry Barker

Posted February 2, 2016

When the Guelph Mercury closed its doors forever last week, as a result of a TorStar corporate decision by subsidiary MetroLand Publishing, the impact has changed the sources of news of a city of more than 122,000, to rely on a remaining handful of professional journalists.

With a single twice a week newspaper remaining with a full-time editorial staff of three, it takes no imagination to discover the huge vacuum of real news that has been created.

On the periphery of news coverage, there is the Rogers Community TV whose chief source of “news” is televising the Guelph council meetings. For those of us in the city that do not subscribe to Rogers services, that’s about as useful as a news source as horns on an ant.

Then we have the Kitchener CTV TV station. Its news coverage consists of 60-second video spots, using an on-camera reporter who does a toss-back to the anchor. This is real news? This outfit is now bereft because one of it’s chief sources was the Guelph Mercury that employed a staff of 10 editors and reporters who spent those long hours digesting and reporting civic affairs, community events, crime and interesting profiles of people.

That essential material coverage is now gone.

I must confess that I will truly miss the Mercury. I am, generally speaking, a one-man band. I do not have the personnel, time or energy to replace the Mercury and its former team of editors and reporters.

What I am most concerned about is that this news vacuum will further give the city administration, unfettered control of the corporation news, and the slant that it has been practising since 2007.

But what I do possess, for the past nine years, is a huge library of material that is mostly critical of the city’s administration.

Since the Mercury’s closing, the number of daily visitors to my blog, guelphspeaks.ca, has tripled. The reason was that I recognized the actions of the five members of council who literally defected from their responsibilities, Monday, January 25, when they walked out.

Then, when challenged to explain their action, I’d call it a strike, because they refused to answer. Instead, Coun. Phil Allt, one of the strikers, said it was “to defend the integrity of the corporation and staff.”

This all occurred during the week of the Mercury’s death throes.

Well, what’s new about this development?

There is a plethora of rumours and calls for the five councillors to resign.

This is a serious problem with the Ontario Municipal Act. The only way a councillor can be dismissed is for overt criminal activity, stealing public money and misrepresenting their credentials.

Even if there were charges relating to any of these fault lines, the councillor charged would still be in office by the next election, because of the time the courts could allocate court time to adjudicate the case. Usually it’s two years.

The provincial government must review and change these ironbound securities that municipal elected representatives are protected. What is needed is a mechanism to recall elected officials for malfeasance, failure to meet their fiduciary responsibilities and not turning up for official public meetings.

This outrageous political coitis interruptous must be met with public reaction and action. The greatest weapon the electors have is installing fear into their elected representatives. They do it by sending messages in many forms to the offending councillors, expressing their rejection of the way the defecting councillor has misbehaved in the people’s interest.

Make no mistake, a steady response complaining to these offending councillors who have stopped the city’s business, will have a telling effect in 2018, if they decide to run again.

If you need any evidence of this kind of political action, look no further than to see what happened in 2014 to council incumbents Karen Farbridge, Maggie Laidlaw, Ian Findlay, Todd Dennis, and Lise Burcher.

They were defeated or quit because of public pressure. It had little to do with the Guelph Mercury or Guelph Tribune; it was a quiet revolution by the people who protested the action of the previous administration.

It is time now to act against this group who have accomplished the continuation of the Farbridge administration that has seen large tax and user fee increases in just one year in office.

It’s now up to we the people to act.

Reminder: The Letter Box is now open for letters to the editor. Send you letter to gerrybarker76@gmail.com for publication.

 

 

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9 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

9 responses to “That media corporate giant sucking sound has changed Guelph forever

  1. rakerman@sympatico.ca

    I am trying to do my part.

    Sent from my iPad

    Rena

    >

  2. Sue

    Readers of Guelph Speaks should keep in mind that this is not an official NEWS site, it’s a blog where the writer expresses his opinions, backed up by his selection of facts. I regularly see comments here accepting theories put forth in articles as the ‘true’ version of what happened. There certainly is a plethora of rumours about what might or might not have happened at the meeting on January 25th, but some of those rumours started right here. If Mr. Barker does indeed have ‘inside’ knowledge of specifically what happened at an in camera council meeting, then there is a different question of integrity involved.

    • Rena

      Sue , I suggest that all you have to do is go to the City website and access the January 25th meeting. Trust me, it does not take a Rhode scholar to see what happened.

    • Sue: I’m glad you brought up the question of integrity. I suggest you question the integrity of those five councillors who walked out of the public meeting January 25 in the name of “protecting the integrity of the corporation and staff.” I know the rule of closed meetings and they shut it down without disclosing the subject of the meeting to which the public is entitled to know. This would inform the public of why they did the walkout.

  3. geo

    Why doesn’t Council just stand up and tell us what happened at the meeting. That would put an end to all rumors.
    Of course we all know this will never happen, they’ll just hide behind the rules, make vacuous statements and add to the rumor problem.
    At least Gerry makes an honest effort to get to the truth and inform the people paying the bills in this City. I do believe this approach cost him his job at the now dead as a doorknob Guelph Mercury.

  4. Sue

    What I see happening from reading the minutes is that one councillor left the closed meeting about 10 minutes after it started, and then about 10 minutes later four more councillors left, apparently during a discussion regarding Guelph Municipal Holdings. Those are the factual details … what is the ‘truth’?

  5. Sue

    They were councillors from Wards 2, 3, 4, and 5.

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