OK labour?

(note – this is not regarding the UK election in the slightest)

I found out quite by accident that “Stand!” was playing at our local Cineplex on the last weekend of November for a limited run. During a caucus break in our bargaining day, someone asked me “Are you going to stand?” and my initial response was “For what?”, assuming an election of some sort was looming and a potential candidate draft was on. My fellow worker then explained that “labour” were sponsoring viewings of “Stand!”, a movie based on the popular-in-certain-circles musical “Strike!”, which tells the story in song of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Labour wanted to do something special for the 100th anniversary of this nation’s most memorable mass industrial action, which (judging by the credits) led to some heavy bankrolling of the film beyond the requisite government grants. Securing a significant block of time in mainstream big box theatres across the country would also have been a massive investment but did the cash outlay pay out any tangible dividends?


I coaxed my partner into watching the preview and she agreed to come along, as it had a “Murdoch Mysteries” enough feel to it for her to commit some of the afternoon to. I also promised to spring for the tickets, the post film burritos and at least one round of Dance Dance Revolution, proving that sitting at a negotiating table over the years can teach you some transferable life skills. Musicals are definitely not my thing in any way, having made exceptions for Les Mis, The Book of Mormon and Rent but overall there aren’t enough edibles available in the province yet to adequately numb me up for all things Gilbert and Sullivan or Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. Considering the story behind and the effort that went into Stand!, I felt a tinge of an obligation to go. It’s the same pang that I had when I was told I should watch Downton Abbey because it had a socialist in it, knowing full well that Tom would eventually sell out as any rebel in his shoes would do. I expect nothing less but wish for so much more out of our token period piece pinkos, knowing that disappointment will prevail nearly every time.


Stand! is worth checking out if you can find it, I’d give it a soft 7 out of 10 but if you like musicals it might clock in at an 8.5 for you. I also have a very low tolerance for bad accents but this cast managed to keep them to a Canadian Moment level of “well it’s almost there so we’ll let it go”. No one attempted a Scottish one thankfully. The leads were handsome and gorge with great voices and enough of the actual message seemed to slip in there that one did leave the theatre with the feeling that worker solidarity is critical to our continued survival and that the world changes one heart at a time. There were two glaring disappointments however, in that the famous tram car smashing didn’t make the cut and that theatre Nine was nearly completely empty. A grand total of seven people were in attendance for a movie that was being pitched as “the next Norma Rae”. The majority of people who saw “Norma Rae” back in the day likely watched it on a rented video tape, which was the world’s You Tube at one point fellow kids. It’s bittersweet yet painfully true that more people are likely watching the 40 year old “Norma Rae” via download in North America on any given day compared to the total viewing audience that Stand! had in theatres in 2019. It could have been different.


This is the end result one should expect when any bureaucracy makes blanket decisions, coupled with what seems to be a lack of a grasp of modern communications. There were four showtimes to choose from on the day we went and I strongly suspect that Stand! played to dust mites and the cola ick on the floor for most of the run. In reading the on line reviews of Stand! (all internal to labour), the UFCW revealed that they are making a half a million digital downloads of the movie available to Canadian students. This is getting closer to where and how Stand! should have been distributed from the get go, with a healthy scoop of promotion to back the effort up. Netflix would have most certainly picked it up and may yet still. Our local rep cinema was showing “The Irishman” for the week, a film that also has a labour story (albeit not a feel good one) but something on the scale of Stand! would have been better placed in smaller, tighter, cozier venues as the original musical would have played in initially. At least they aren’t cranking out VHS and Beta tapes for all locals and labour councils to share. Let’s hope not.

My partner also enjoyed the film, even if Detective Murdoch or Dr. Ogden didn’t merit so much as a cameo. Other than having to endure my run throughs of “Solidarity Forever” wafting up from the basement, she is generally not exposed to the labour realm in her day to day. On the way home she randomly asked me “Why don’t the unions build houses? Renting all those empty theatres could have built a nice apartment somewhere.” and I didn’t have a good answer to the question because there isn’t one. I’m fairly certain that it was this comment and not the film Stand! that put a tear in my eye at the end of it all. OK labour?


Movie musical Stand! has ‘potential to be huge for labour movement’




The World Changes…One Heart at a Time



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.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.


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.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.




Open Sources

The recently departed Gang of Four, which was actually a gang of 8 or 9 of us in rotation at any given time, were very touched by the generally positive comments that made the rounds when it was announced we were coming to the end of our run on CFRU. I was also quite happy to hear that Guelph Speaks lone coyote Gerry Barker had chimed in on our demise. From his perspective, we are a casualty of the recent municipal election results. (Did you actually listen to the show, sir?)


No matter. We have thick skins. You have to in this business.  Seconds after we were told the show was ending, Guelph Politico Adam A. Donaldson and I decided on the spot that somebody had to carry on the great work of Beyond The Ballot Box in some form. There are plenty of bloggers, tweeters and all sorts of personalities both real and imaginary who chirp about politics on line. It was clear that what the Gang did was fairly unique and it would be a loss to just fade away in the static. It will be missed as much as we will miss being a part of it.

In the media world, Adam and I produce what is commonly known as Open Source or Community Journalism. Adam is a dedicated, seasoned journalist and at one time was the editor in chief of The Ontarion newspaper. His long running Guelph Politico blog is the go to place to find out what is actually happening in this town. But if you aren’t aligned with one of the big media players, anything one might do is considered an “open source” in the broader scheme.


The time is coming (and may have already arrived) when the open source will be your primary supplier for news and information. The era of a massive centralized news bureau dispatching reporters far and wide is pretty much over.  They were the norm and seemingly had limitless resources – if you heard it on the BBC or read it in the New York Times it was 99% guaranteed to be accurate, factual and timely.

We will strive to be the local version of that long solid tradition. You pretty much have to take our word for it though and we hope you will hold us to account, call bullshit, question everything and pull anything we have to say apart. That’s what we do daily and would also expect any engaged person to do regardless of stripe. Feedback is most welcome.

I’ve been an open source for a while. Not to a Donaldson degree but I’ve been around. Here’s a bit of a bio for the record.

When I was in grade 8 I had a letter published in the Mississauga News about how I wanted the great world powers to sit down and have a chat so we would avoid a nuclear war. Plenty of people saw it and commented on it. That was the precise point when the media bug bit me hard.

I had a two zines in high school, “The Page” and “Dig”. Back then we called them underground newspapers. The admin tried desperately to find out who had put them together, as a couple of issues were highly critical of certain goings on at the school and used “foul language”. It was strictly typewriters and photocopying back then. I was in the last typing class before it became “keyboarding”. I’m rather ancient in the scheme of things.

My first proper freelance work was for Cognition – the Canadian Organic Growers Magazine. Although it existed pre internet, somebody took the time to preserve an article or two:


Although it’s not really my focus, I’ve had some photos published over the years in various places such as the late great Eye Magazine and Canadian Crop Producer. When I joined CFRU in 2003, I was given the labour news file, which eventually evolved into one of the first podcasts of it’s kind in the world on rabble.ca . Podcasting of this type was so new, I was asked to speak about it at a conference at McMaster. Archives of show are still lolling about on-line. This interview with Billy Bragg is a personal favourite:


A magazine called Our Times did an article on what I was doing then, cached here:


As most of you know, Hertz isn’t actually my real name but it’s the one that stuck. You can call me whatever the hell you like.

Around the same time I did a theatre review by request, possibly my only paid gig ever:


A while later, I was drafted to a rebooted election reporting team at CFRU which was part of Royal City Rag, eventually evolving into the weekly Gang of Four. I have Jan Hall to thank for coaxing me back into the game and getting me re-energized about the world of politics. Jan can still be found at CFRU on Saturday mornings, hosting the fantastic Folk Roots Radio:


Currently when I’m not on CFRU or taking care of other workaday duties, I occasionally write for rankandfile.ca



And I’ve blogged in several places but The Spannerbook is the latest incarnation. Thanks for reading.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether I’m a credible open source or not. I hope my previous endeavours are a reflection of the type of reporting I am hoping to contribute to the new project. If I’m delivering news, I assure you it will be accurate, factual and as timely as possible. If I’m spouting opinion as we did so often on the Gang, Ill preface it as such. I feel it’s important to differentiate between news and opinion at all times.

I am not the agent of, nor am I a card carrying member of (or in the employ of) any political organization or entity. I see it as my job to hold them all to account and for that I feel one needs to be strictly non partisan.

All possible internet polls, quizzes and tests that I’ve taken for fun tell me that I am very much on the left of the spectrum. So I’m still the pinko you have come to know over the years but I guarantee I will never lie to you or disregard your opinion, whatever it may be.

I hope I’ve passed the audition.

Join us for our launch on January 8th, 2015 at 5pm on CFRU 93.3FM or online at www.cfru.ca

You can contact me at scottyhertz “at” bell.net, Twitter: @scottyhertz and I’m easily found on Facebook. The old BTBB page will be our new page soon. We’ll keep you posted: