To the Editor:
While David Shanahan’s response to the February 28 letter from the Mayor and Councillors is strident in places, nonetheless he does, to the benefit of the reader, focus on one specific issue. He even took the time to consult with the Ontario Ombudsman about this particular issue.
In contrast, the difficulty I have with the letter from the Mayor and Councilors is that it is so broad brush in approach that they seem to admonish not only the Press but as well individual citizens who might be tempted to criticize Councillors and/or Municipal staff in ways that would threaten “the democratic rights of the residents of North Grenville”, or indeed “the prospects of staff and/or Councillors”. Where do we draw the line? Where indeed.
I worked in the Federal government in Ottawa for 28 years. During that time it seemed to me that there was always a dynamic tension between the Press and the politicians, especially those in the Governing Party. That said, they each needed each other and sometimes it was difficult to know who was using whom. From time to time I suspect that on occasion they met at the Press Club to work out an odd surreptitious plot. Indeed, there were periods in the past generation when, on the national level, the Press usefully backstopped a particularly lame or ineffective Opposition. At the provincial and national levels of government, an elected Loyal Opposition is considered a necessary component of a well functioning democracy. It is different in Municipal politics. No such formal opposition exists
The words used by the Councillors certainly reveal the angst they were experiencing when writing the document.
According to my Webster’s Dictionary, malicious can mean “a desire to inflict harm or suffering on another; a harmful intent on the part of a person who commits an unlawful act injurious to another.” Defamatory can imply an “unjustified injury to another’s reputation as by slander or libel.” This is serious stuff.
If it’s Shanahan and the North Grenville Times that the Councilors and Staff are after, then go after him on the basis of the specific misdemeanor that has so aggravated you, but please don’t admonish the rest of us about not bullying or challenging the Council and staff in ways that “threaten the democratic rights of the residents of North Grenville”. If I take this Council’s admonition at face value, then I begin to wonder which of my neighbours the Councilors may have in mind. Or worse still, am I now on some list?