CORNWALL ONTARIO – Starting CFN in 2009 has been an amazing experience. It’s been brutal in many ways exposing the darkest sides of any community I’ve ever seen not in a cheap tv series or movie.
While by far my experience with people in this town has been pleasant, it’s been mostly that on the surface.
The culture of our community is sadly of bullying, cronyism, nepotism, and corruption. While those qualities exist in every community what we’ve seen is our youngest, best and brightest exit leaving the bullies and those that capitulate to them. Mix and repeat for a few generations and that is what this community has sadly become.
A lot of financial opportunity has been lost over generations from locals refusing to allow “outsiders” to set up shop even at their own expense.
After the end of the big Mills like Domtar this essentially meant that it became near impossible for the bully class to make a good living. Gone were the well paying jobs for near illiterate who simply supported the hive. The last bastion for those folks was the illegal cigarette trade. Now that’s gone too.
In some ways Cornwall is like the movie The Stepford Wives.
For a few years now I’ve been trying, without success, to sell CFN. I’m now in talks to to sell this city’s namesake newspaper with over 1 million human page views per month, but sadly this company will rename it and move it, and are asking me to move with it.
While the “bad guys” have been doing their best to run me out of town since the City Hall led boycott and my utterly false police charges, my philosophy has always been that the bad guys should move, and quite a few have, or lost their positions.
Meanwhile I’ve been interviewing Prime Ministers, legends, and some very interesting people. My most favorite interview wasn’t Justin Trudeau, or Thomas Mulcair, or even Mark Hamill, but the late Joe Gunn waxing on about seeing Bob Marley not once, but twice in concert.
My goal when I started CFN was that I saw a true need for real local news, to support local business as opposed to Big Box stores that sucked the life out of a community, and to have some fun. It came out of my experience of being wrongfully terminated due to the impact of our MP Guy Lauzon, and his friends and cronies. I never expected for CFN to become as big as it has.
Going to a local NDP meeting for example, with the same group at each meeting, would be a challenge as I’d try and find something to make it look good like a jeweler looking for just the right facet to set a diamond.
CFN grew because of the weakness of this community. Within two years this little online newspaper was number one in its market. The Freeholder, rumored to be absorbed into the Ottawa Sun or other Post Media title itself soon as print is dying, once ran a full page ad claiming to be number one, but only comparing itself to the Seaway News, and smaller media.
That was funny, but it was also indicative of how media rolled in this town with most real news either hidden or played down.
To see and feel the full weight of the corruption of this community has scarred me for life. It really has. Some have suggested that I’m suffering from a form of PTSD even.
The worst was after living nearly fifty years without ever having a whiff of trouble with the justice system I’ve been fingerprinted and booked, smeared publicly by the local media with the help of the police force, and essentially had a small clique lie about me including in a council meeting where Bob Peters wrote a vexatious lie about CFN and the Freeholder’s comment section being filled with all sorts of nasty, which we of course aren’t. To this day and through three CAO’s I’ve been refused my ten minutes to present information to Council to rebut the lie.
The Freeholder capitulated to the petty vanity of people like Elaine MacDonald, Bernadette Clement, David Murphy, and Bob Kilger and shut down their online comments sections.
Corus radio, after a rant by one of its news team on his last day, and ensuing alleged rants by Kilger, simply shut down its newsroom and we lost four media jobs in this city as badly paid as those were.
Seaway Radio, which probably was drawing more listens than Corus was shut down after the City instituted a boycott against CFN. So while the Freeholder for example was charging about $1400 per monthly City Bulletin entry and CFN was only being paid $1000 per year, we lost that contract even though we clearly demonstrated more value and results.
Seaway TV would have given our city a daily local broadcast as well as original local content and in its first year was set to have six full time emerging media jobs. That was axed because of the City Boycott as well even though St. Lawrence College had a journalism program.
The Dean at the time, Don Fairweather also boycotted CFN. Oddly enough, while on the board of Your Credit Union, where we bank, they also boycott us spending drastically more cash for ads on media that simply do not have our traffic, or reach, and certainly not offer the value we do.
A business student estimated the cost overall to the community because of the city led boycott to be in the millions every year. After all, why would a business want to pay nearly 10 times in some situations for ads that have less exposure? During the City Hall led boycott the local business economy has lost over 90 million human page views worth of exposure. Can you imagine the impact on our local economy simply if we had our average amount of market share in advertising?
But through it all I stuck it through even though it partially cost me my marriage, relationships, and friendships. If one of the clique knew one of their friends was a friend of mine they were bullied. I could write a list of people like Roy Perkins who was said to actually yell across the counter in his Rona store at Dimitri for advertising his wonderful restaurant with us.
It’s worse than highschool. It’s grade school ignorant bullying.
After my charge, for making threatening phone calls, which the police booked me for without verifying, it was a dark time. An eventual production order, which Jennifer Burke, the Crown on my case at first refused to get clearly showed that I had in fact made no phone calls threatening or otherwise. Jennifer’s dad owns a big chunk of our city and is friends with the like of Councilor Denis Carr who was said to have told someone whose business just folded recently that I was being “taken care of” only a few months before my false arrest.
In fact in the disclosure it was actually stated that I had said “you’re dead” in a phone call stated to last 17 seconds. You figure that one out.
The late Gerry Conlon reached out to me from Ireland. He was amazing and after what he’d been through (see Oscar winning film “In the Name of the Father”) I could never feel sorry for myself. Also, my local friends that stuck by me when so many hid really was a lesson in how many great people there are in Cornwall even if many of them did it on the QT.
The crown kept me under conditions for nearly a year which ran through my run for mayor. To this date I still can’t get a lawyer to take on the police and crown for their abuse in my case. The police board included former mayor Kilger and was chaired by his campaign manager Pat Finucan. The police chief got his new multi year contract.
Later, Brock Frost, sent out a press release stating that I’d made sexual advances on him. He did this as a city councilor. He sent out a second one that was even worse and to this date, after several complaints sent to council and the the CAO, and HR manager to invoke the city’s very clear harassment policy not a word has been heard back from the City.
This is not a community to invest in until City Hall and various entities are properly investigated and action taken, and that includes our justice system and some of our justices.
Today someone sent me a meme on a top Ottawa Radio station facebook page.
I spent two long years trying to build up our City’s reputation only to be attacked. It was as though you gave someone a life saving kidney transplant to only see it be rejected all the while it’s viewed so badly by the outside community. This is a town that has the cheapest hydro in Ontario and no development charges and can’t seem to attract much more than distribution centres which are land intensive.
I now live with a security regime. I’ve filed nearly a dozen complaints over the last few years that clearly should have charges filed against people like Traci Trottier, Mike Bedard, various members of a hate group (which included antisemitism and clear threats to my person and worse, my dogs) that the police have refused to press charges against. Think about that…. I’ve been attacked by the former head of the UCDSB simply because I exposed swastikas in his high school that weren’t removed for about a month in spite of repeated requests for that to be done.
Again, even when relatives and friends have begged me to move I have stayed.
But now there is this negotiation. Nobody lives forever. Even if I stayed CFN would go on after my time with it was over.
Can Cornwall afford to lose this newspaper? Will it be better? As I and many others have said and written, the ills that exist in this community were here long before I moved here in 2004, and probably will be here for generations to come.
You don’t just turn off what’s been going on in this sad community like a light switch, but if you expose it. If you stand up to the bullies and remove them from offices that in so many cases they didn’t earn and shouldn’t be in you eventually build a better community.
The window to keep CFN in Cornwall is about six to eight weeks. That’s it. We’ve lost so much in Cornwall, can we really afford to keep losing? And while some in this city may choose to live in a bubble outsiders see when we lose public art galleries, balloon festivals, and generally fail.
This is a town that couldn’t even half fill a four thousand seat hall for Celine Dion who actually beckoned to the crowd that night at the Civic Complex to move down to the centre because it was empty the night she gave a concert here.
As I’ve said it’s not the bad guys and bullies, but those that capitulate to them, and then even more bizarrely embrace them that hold all of us back and keep seeing our already insanely high taxes keep going up.
So Cornwall it’s up to you. You can make the bad guys happy, or you can fight for something that so many people outside of Cornwall think is a mighty cool thing.
Either way it’s been an experience. I’m very grateful and lucky to be able to leave any time I wish and probably make more money and have a better quality of life. Sadly, many of the clique can’t claim the same.
At the end of the day we all have to wear the badge of dishonor, even those of us that are innocent, for the ills of the bad guys. Doesn’t that suck?
If you wish to save CFN talk to people. Post about it on Social media. And you can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 855 444 1133.
Merry Christmas to all, and here’s hoping we all have a better 2017!