Facts, Opinion and the Great Slate Debate

At Open Sources we endeavour to present you with facts, devoid of spin and the plague of fake news. Since our show is an hour long generally (and much longer on any election night), our personal opinions and viewpoint are going to surface in our discussion. When we present our personal point of view, it will always be made clear without question. You may need to listen for it but any sentence that contains the words “in my opinion”, “I think”, “in my view” or “I believe” is ours and ours alone. We are actually covered by some very strict radio regulations that say you can’t just present your thoughts as a fact. Many talk radio stations use the “views expressed in this program” ass coverage disclaimer you’ve heard countless times, so that if you happen to take the advice of someone on a show and it doesn’t work out, you can’t sue the station for any misfortune that may befall you. These same regs also prevent us from overuse of words like “ass”, spouting other foul language or slander and hearsay. You bet your ass I’m going to follow the rules. If you make it to the very bottom of this post, you’ll see my very own disclaimer. Please read it before sicking The Blog Police on me. 


Some people (in my opinion) are bothered by the fact that we don’t steamroll, railroad or corner people when they are on the show. That’s not our modus operandi in the slightest. We’re not out to “get” anyone. This perception in certain circles that we have a specific political agenda has led to a few people not wanting to have anything to do with Adam’s Guelph Politico or our beloved CFRU and that’s fine. It’s unfortunate though, considering we have a significant following of a good cross section of town and we extend the same open offer to ALL ward and mayoral candidates. The Free Time Paid Political Announcements at the provincial and federal level do not apply municipally but we maintain the spirit of it and with that hopefully keep several ounces of integrity. We have been providing ten free minutes of no strings attached airtime that will be broadcast more than once leading up to election day.  The mayoral candidates are offered an hour each and both have committed to stopping by. You will find that no other broadcaster is doing this because there isn’t one locally to do it. It is our mandate as a campus/community radio operation to provide this service and our team receives zero remuneration for our efforts. We occasionally get some pizza left over from a meeting though.

Adam Donaldson is a well established freelance journalist who puts in countless hours of his own time covering city hall, live tweeting the action at endless, epic meetings and living out of the vending machine. There is probably no better person in town to glean local, non biased political information and data from to formulate your own opinion in my view, and I’m not just saying that because he is a mate. He is this city’s top authority on local government and that is an indisputable 100% fact. I always jokingly refer to myself as “the B unit” of the OS team and there is truth to that in our arrangement. I’m officially the show’s board controller but I’m also called upon to hit the field at times as I’ve done for the past 15 years for the station. There is labour involved beyond just sitting in my robe this morning banging this out. It’s our mission and we have chosen to accept it. 

the team

Compared to older, more conventional media, the rules in the blogosphere and across the device driven spectrum are a different world. There is oftentimes no filter other than that which is self imposed and self regulating. This leads to a massive blurring of the line between fact and opinion. The overarching Criminal Code rules apply to all but it can be difficult to hunt down angry anonymous trolls in their underwear, intent on spreading a smear job, hate or two scoops of bullshit. There are times when the hammer does come down though, such as when a CAO at City Hall filed a lawsuit against Guelph Speaks blogger Gerry Barker. This hasn’t dampened Gerry’s propensity to claim to speak for Guelph’s grassroots but at least he isn’t anonymous. I’ll never understand why so much weight is put on what this single blogger says every election. There is no movement or organization behind Barker whatsoever, unlike the Chamber of Commerce or the Labour Council who have members (plural) and it’s up to you to assign how much weight you put on their picks should they offer them. And if you place any value on the cesspool that is the comments section of anything, my advice to you is just don’t do it.  

Which leads us to this week’s “slate” flap, where blogger Alan Pickersgill’s postings and Facebook speculation has turned into a battle royale of the kind that makes an election far more interesting than it was until now. Nowhere has it been mentioned in any media platform that there is absolutely nothing preventing people running as a group or a slate, according to the election rules put down by Municipal Affairs. The only thing that can’t happen is that your campaign finances cannot intertwine and there is zero evidence to suggest that has occurred in the slightest. The mayor’s decision to campaign with like minded council hopefuls and tacitly endorse certain people for the job isn’t evidence of a bona fide slate but it is a new arrangement in recent history. If you head back in time and had enough hours to slug it out with the microfiche at the GPL, I would guarantee that the mayors of the past have always had their favoured candidates, especially when the business and religious communities ran the place outright in the 19th century. Some of those old arrangements are still with us today, in the form of Ontario insisting on maintaining four separate school boards where in reality we only realistically need a single, unified, secular and bilingual school system. But that’s just one bike riding pinko’s opinion.









This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

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Where Goes The Neighbourhood?

The first sign of spring in St Patrick’s Ward isn’t the recently returned birds chirping away demanding seeds or the clocks moving forward. We know it’s getting warmer when the ubiquitous white Committee of Adjustment signs start popping up all over and the mailbox starts to fill with notices of public meetings regarding certain properties. You don’t need the farmer’s almanac to determine what’s in the air, be it the sing song of the contractors hammer or hexavalent chromium. I used to love being part of this rite of the season, the annual gripe sessions down at the Italian Canadian Club with my neighbours, where we let it all out and absolutely no one sides with the city, developers, the company in question or anybody at the head table. We’d fill the room and let everyone have their moment at the mic, even though the development or adjustment happens regardless, with perhaps some minor changes. Occasionally, a good old fashioned petition would get passed around, never to be seen again. Someone would write it all up for the Tribune or the Mercury. It was a time honoured ritual.

As with all traditions, many fade with time. Currently, the parties in question can no longer be bothered to hear the neighbourhood as a group, except for meetings at city hall where the classic democratic process is still strictly enforced. The trend now in these hectic, app driven times is toward the Open House or Information Session  These new free form meetings are further split into separate afternoon and evening events, presumably in the name of accommodation but actually serving to dilute the kvetching of the masses even further. No longer do we jockey for a good seat in the rows of chairs to stare down the applicants/consultants/city staff in the hot seats. No more impassioned speeches from Joe Lunchbucket about “where am going to park the truck?” or Sally Camomile-Tea voicing concern about what her organic children may be breathing in. We had a good thing going dammit, our community meetings were a much loved spectacle. Now, we stand divided and pretty much conquered.  Our engaged badass reputation teeters on extinction.


(This isn’t actually in The Ward but similar sentiments can be found scribbled here and there in all neighbourhoods such as ours)

First up this past week was a Q and A session about 200 Beverley Street, aka the Imico foundry lands. The city has dumped millions into property maintenance and brownfield monitoring. Millions more will be spent to “prepare the site for development”. There are lots of suggestions out there as to what might happen, little nuggets of hope floated that we might get something exciting such as a park, arena, community centre or “education facility”. Realistically, there are only two options. The site will either revert to an industrial use or be zoned for more condos. If the brownfield launderers surface in short order, condos are a certainty. The Mercury has suggested that four “firms” have expressed an interest, although none of whom will state their intentions openly. This would imply some kind of big box, a hot trend in other parts of town (the site is 13 acres) or it’s the industry option, which will definitely be lighter weight stuff than the foundry was. Either way, it’s widely implied that the city has “no money” and private capital is necessary to take care of it. So this rules out the park, arena or something for the people. We can forgo the perennial whinge fest good neighbours, this is a done deal!


(Once again, not actually in The Ward but a similar scene can be expected soon)

The following evening saw our largest neighbourhood industrial concern, Owens Corning, pulling out all of the stops over it’s inability to meet the coming improved air quality regulations. OC insists they are “committed to conducting its operations in a manner that protects the public’s and (our) employees health and safety and the environment” according to one of a ream of fact sheets doled out. The caveat is they will be unable to meet the new air pollution regulations for hexavalent chromium that the province has devised, so they are looking for an “site specific” exemption. New tech they are installing will vastly improve their current emissions but they can’t hit the bar within the time frame, if ever. So they are obligated to tell us about it. This meeting followed a more science fair/trade show structure, with those tasked to mind the display tables swooping in on anyone browsing or remotely making eye contact. This way, people like myself don’t get a public moment to bring up the mass layoffs, shipping the labour intensive (union) jobs to Mexico whilst keeping the polluting part of the operation here because its easier and more cost effective, which in turn pleases the shareholders – the actual true bottom line. We former outspoken types are reduced to blogging in our pyjamas, hoping someone out there might read it, knowing full well that armchairism never changed a goddamn thing, ever.

You won’t see me at city hall on March 12th at 5.20pm at the application for severance for 47 Richardson Street. I’ve got a radio show to put on. I’m fairly sure the slumlord era is drawing to a close for St Patrick’s Ward and the new dawn of all things luxury is upon us, so a couple of infill houses are probably nothing to worry about. But if you do have any concerns, be sure to make your presence known, although the comment period is over. Or is the golden era of our scrappy populace over? It’s up to you.

Post Script: The Richardson Street application to jam two homes on a lot best suited for one has was denied late last week, due in large part to the efforts of a solid, united block of neighbours. There’s hope for us yet.