Editorials - Nov. 25, 2021
Loud and clear
In the Nov. 18 edition of The Citizen, Morris-Turnberry’s Chief Administrative Officer Trevor Hallam is quoted as saying that “advertising in local publications is unsustainable”. Reducing advertising by 90 per cent over the past five years is being portrayed as a success. However, is reducing communications really in the constituents’ best interest? Our own publication has seen the reduction in municipal notices in everything from help wanted, public meetings, dog tags and licenses and tax notices to the promoting of rentals for the municipally-owned Bluevale Hall.
A strong communication plan for local government instills trust in its citizens, which, in turn, fosters community engagement. Hallam needed to back up the reduction with an explanation on how the municipality is communicating with constituents. What is the new way to remind households of tax due dates or to invite interested parties to a public meeting when a bridge is being decommissioned? By specifying “local publications” is the municipality still buying advertising, just not at a local level? Aren’t most municipalities giving local businesses priority in their purchasing decisions? Aren’t local publications worth the same consideration as other suppliers?
Media survives by selling advertising and some of the revenue that it generates is used to pay reporters to attend council meetings and then publish stories for the taxpayers to understand how their government is working for them. It was a pretty good system for all parties. – DS
Face time with the big guys
If you had five minutes with Premier Doug Ford, what would you ask? Which topics would you explore? Would you congratulate him or complain? Ask him questions or tell him your family’s story?
Last week, the editorial department of The Citizen had two such opportunities. Editor Shawn Loughlin had a 15-minute-long, five-minute interview with Ford (old journalism school trick for a timed interview: don’t stop it, always make them stop you), while reporter Denny Scott had a (masked) face-to-face interview opportunity with Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca, who was in Brussels to support Shelley Blackmore, the Huron-Bruce representative for the Liberals.
For young parents, Ford’s reticence to sign a deal with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government on $10-a-day childcare might be top of mind. For those who commute in the greater Toronto area, the proposed 413 highway might be of more interest. Small business owners instead may care more about post-pandemic supports, while farmers might wonder how a Liberal or Conservative government would have their backs and those concerned about the risks of COVID-19 may question the smarts behind the removal of the proof-of-vaccination program in many settings early next year.
It’s these different mindsets, approaches, wants and needs that make up an electorate: young people, not-so-young people, single people, married people, employed people, unemployed people, white people, Black people, Indigenous people, straight people, gay people and everyone in between. Many factors influence a vote, but think about what you’d ask a leader if you had five minutes. What’s most important to you? And what answer would you expect back? Boiling things down in such a way might be a helpful exercise. – SL
A bird in the hand
Every country has its political punching bags, its government goofs and its leadership loonies that parts of the country can point to and say, “well, at least we’ve got it a little bit better than they do.”
For example, people in the United States can say, “At least we’re not like Texas,” after Senator Ted Cruz decided a vacation to Cancun was appropriate when his state was freezing and without power.
Ontarians have been able to say things may not be perfect here, but we’re faring better than Alberta thanks to its Premier Jason Kenney. However, Premier Doug Ford may be giving Kenney a run for his money with his desire to try and get a better childcare deal from the federal government. While other parts of the country have signed on the dotted line, accepting federal government support to offer $10-a-day childcare in the near future, Ford says that, because of a six per cent difference between funding and population, he wants to hold out.
While a mathematical way of looking at things is refreshing given how he’s deviated from science in some of his COVID-19 decision making, the fact is that every day spent negotiating could translate to another day that parents in this province pay more than their counterparts in other provinces when the $10-a-day systems are rolled out.
If Ford’s negotiating delays the rollout of the program in Ontario, the delay will, just like the minimum wage rollout, resulting in some of the most financially hard-pressed families in Ontario having to do without.
Ford wants to wait and negotiate, but that may be him hoping to catch two birds in the bush instead of taking the one offered to him. – JDS