Democratic Hiccup in Cornwall Ontario as Chamber of Commerce Singles out The Cornwall Free News for Special Harassment at All Candidates Debate. Btw, Bernadette Clement won! April 22, 2011

Cornwall ON – Democracy experienced a hiccup last night at the All Candidate Chamber of Commerce debate in Cornwall Ontario.  It seems some members of the chamber are not familiar with the term “Freedom of the Press.”

I was accosted as I entered the Salon in the civic complex by Mike Metcalfe who singled me out with two burly security guards nearby to inform me that I could only cover the event from the Press table.    There was no memo sent out to media prior with any new guidelines or rules.   Cornwall is generally a very mellow media kind of place.  We media all tend to get along and be quite civil; not only to each other, but to those we interview.   The whole experience was odd and shocking.

When I politely challenged him on this he bristled and suggested I could walk around the circumference of the room but not cause any disturbances or go near the stage.

Now after two years of covering events in this town I was shocked as I’d never done any such thing or disturbed any event?  I’ve seen Corus Radio people go right up and stick their microphones at podiums while speeches were being given, but nobody from this newspaper has ever done such a thing?

I took a walk around the room and decided it best simply to leave.   Democracy failed and the only non-Conservative media outlet retreated rather than risk who knows what weirdness?   And frankly as a media person I need to be able to do my job without undue hindrance or partisan interference as do all the media that are present at an event such as this.

Luckily we had someone there, Mr. Reg Coffey,  who was present to cover Mr. Lauzon being soundly defeated by Ms Bernadette Clement, and here is his report.

To start with, I was not supposed to write the coverage of this debate. Jamie was there ready to cover the debate with his usual style but the Chamber put so many restrictions on his movement that he left in frustration. Fortunately I, along with other Cornwall Free News friendly writers, were in the front row of seats. The press priority was given to the companies that are fronted by executive members of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Candidates 

The questioning format was changed at the last minute due to outrage from several of the political parties and concerned  voters from “one question, one answer” to a more equitable “one question and everyone gets to answer”. The stage was set with five tall podiums, too tall for Bernadette Clement and a step-up of sorts was requited for her, but there were no seats available for the candidates. This put the Green party candidate, Wyatt Walsh at a distinct disadvantage because of his well know recent foot surgery. The room was staged for coverage by Cogeco and the CFN imitation, cornwall dally, and the rest of the media were relegated to a long table on the far south end of the room with no worthy camera angles.

The Conservative supporters were far outnumbered by the other party supports or uncommitted voters which was evident by the responses from the audience during the debate. The questions presented by moderator John Bolton were fair and covered some of the more controversial issues for this riding.

The loudest response from the audience came when Mr. Lauzon tried to explain that the contempt of parliament ruling against the Conservative party was simply a matter of the opposition parties ganging up on them and that it doesn’t really mean anything. The booing drowned him out. The second loudest response came when Mr. Lauzon claimed that he was instrumental in resolving the closing of the port of entry issue.

The candidates pretty much stuck to their written platforms and, to be honest, after attending three of these debates it was a little monotonous.

I do believe that Bernadette Clement gave the best performance of the evening, coming across as sincere, honest and well informed.  Mr. Lauzon struggled to appear credible and was possibly a little pathetic as he pleaded to be re-elected.

Mario Leclerc did not stray far from his written script but he did get some good shots in at Mr. Lauzon.

Mr. Donnelly presented some rather radical ideas, some unpopular, some not so much, and positioned himself as the “protest vote” candidate. Mr. Walsh, while visibly uncomfortable standing, presented himself as a common sense candidate who is willing to stand up in parliament and represent the taxpayers of SD&SG, practically as an independent.

In my view, during this debate, Bernadette Clement showed that she is the most viable candidate to represent Stormont, Dundas and South Glenngary in the next government of the five contenders.

I’d like to thank Reg for stepping up and filling in and apologize to our 42, 384 viewers in the past month for my failing you.   We’re going to wait until after the election to cover this issue with the Chamber of Commerce any further.   In the meanwhile though we have a ton of video and coverage that will be live this weekend from some of the other debate action as well as the candidates on the trail at different events.

I’d also like to ask that everyone embrace their Democratic right to vote!  Get to the polls and bring your friends and family.  Voting is fun!


Coffey's Coffee


  1. I was not aware this had happened to you Jamie, else I would have shot video. If anyone can provide any links to full video coverage of the debate yesterday, please do so.

  2. I wondered why you were not there Jamie. I questioned the time given to “questions from the audience” I felt almost like it was pre-planned who would get to ask a question. I hope more people get to know what happened. This is what our lives will be like under a Conservative government.

  3. There does seem to be a strong Conservative media bias in this riding, especially in the Seaway News. Just last week, in the middle of an election campaign, Bernadette Clement’s ad was stuffed in the classified section while Guy Lauzon was allowed to write a half page “discussion” piece complete with his smiling face. The piece was total Conservative spin filled with false information that Harper’s spin doctors crank out. The Standard Freeholder is a bit better but because of its bias, I will not subscribe to it. How did Cornwall get to be this way? Is there an inner group that controls the city?

  4. Shame, shame, shame! This Chamber of Commerce “controlling” crap has to stop. Everyone knows that they support Guy Lauzon and the Conservative Party. They are made up of mostly Conservatives. When a Chamber of Commerce tries to squash someones democratic right to properly cover the debate, etc., it’s a sad, sad day for democracy! Once the elections are over then lets get rid of this bunch of political wannabee’s and put in a panel of professional people who won’t bring shame on the Chamber. It’s the only one we have!

  5. The Cornwall All-Candidates’ Debate, hosted by the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, and broadcast live by TV Cogeco, raised controversy before it even began. As what was seen by many of the candidates as a move to stifle honest debate, only one of the five candidates would have been allowed to answer individual questions from the floor. It was a format which worked very well in Guy Lauzon’s favour the previous night, at the all-candidates’ debate in South Mountain, where only two of the candidates were allowed to respond to questions, effectively shutting out Mario Leclerc of the NDP, the Libertarian candidate, and the Greens’ Wyatt Walsh. Tonight, however, democracy won when the candidates refused to participate under this rule, and jointly insisted that all five had a right to free speech.

    The first few questions had been prepared in advance by the Chamber, and, to the surprise of many, were actually quite fair and incisive, and not composed in such a way as to give an unfair advantage to any one candidate. Two of the more controversial questions were about the Harper Government’s response to the International Bridge issue, and about the government being the first in Commonwealth Parliamentary history to be found in Contempt of Parliament. Mr. Lauzon’s attempts to answer these questions were lost in the loud heckling and booing.

    There was good turnout for the event, but ominously for the Conservatives, it was the Liberals who managed to pack the debate with their supporters. Perhaps even more worrying for the Conservatives was the state of 67-year-old Guy Lauzon. Without commenting on any of his answers, which were predictable, after three weeks of campaigning and five unfriendly all-candidates’ debates in four days, Mr. Lauzon was definitely showing the signs of stress. There were times when he seemed physically exhausted and wanted nothing more than to take a few days off to rest and forget about the physical and mental demands of politics.

    Perhaps it was an oversight on the part of the Chamber, but why did no one there consider that it would be viewed as rude and mean-spirited to make a senior citizen, a man recovering from recent painful surgery on both feet, and a lady all have to stand for two solid hours? No wonder Mr. Lauzon needed to leave the debate and the audience to go home and rest as soon as he could politely do so, and it says much for his (and the other candidates) manners in that he did not complain publicly at being put at such a disadvantage.

  6. Maybe that time you ambushed guy and he told you to talk to his lawyer might have struck a nerve

  7. Mr. Lauzon’s comment on the contempt of Parliament ruling against the Conservatives as reported shows further contempt. Any vote for Lauzon is a vote for contempt of Parliament and ipso facto contempt for Canadians.

  8. mr editor tonight i spent a wonderful night with both ndp and liberals discussing local issues including this election and the wrongs of the past few years of harpersism and lack of SDSG support from our MP Mr Lauzon We need to realize as voters we get what we vote in . I was there last night as only select people were given the chance to ask safe questions that were given to them for the candidate of the chamber of commerce’s choice and as they were the hosts of this event this fact should have been advertised since it was Broadcast on local Cogeco TV . My question was to ask what these candidates were willing to do to help the millions of Canadians living day to day in poverty or living homeless without hope for a future.
    i have given the candidates my question that I was not given the chance to ask during this debate as a local voter

  9. Quote from the Standard Freeholder: “Clement and Lauzon did the most direct sparring, to cheers or boos from the 150 or so people gathered at the civic complex for the two-hour debate”.

    FOR THE RECORD: IT WAS CLEMENT WHO GOT THE CHEERS, AND LAUZON WHO GOT THE BOOS! Is this quote ambiguous and misleading by accident or on purpose? Does Cheryl Brink have an unfair tone and bias in her writing? Is this “news” or an “editorial”? People who were not at the debate or did not watch it on TV will be misinformed by this newspaper article. Shame!

  10. Author

    Jason Mr. Lauzon wasn’t ambushed. The full unedited video shows that I patiently waited nearly a full two minutes to get a word in edgewise. I asked my question politely and Mr. Lauzon made no attempt to leave. He answered the question and got his two cents in. He was not followed away to continue questioning.

    That was no ambush.

    And if he instigated the actions of the Chamber or their rep there’s a strong issue as well.

    Without Freedom of the Press we may as well live in China.

  11. Now you can see how I feel – Jamie, when I am in the park, and every time they say you can’t be here, and low and behold – 3 to 4 police come to try to convince me to leave my right to freedom of speech at the church door!

  12. Preacher Tom It’s because most times your words and actions are religious bigotry and a betrayal of the Christian imperative to “Love Thy Neighbour”.

  13. Free speech is one thing. Being a constant public pain in the back-side is quite another.

  14. Of course, antipasta, that is how you see it through your rose colored glasses! So antipasta, should we use your standard for freedom speech?

    By the way, what about the Christian imperative to love God – Mat 22:36 – 40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”.

    All Christians know that you can not obey the second until you have obeyed the first – Psa 97:10 “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil…”. Do you worship and serve the True and living God via the Lord Jesus Christ by faith alone? via his blood atonement? via the Holy Word of God? If you don’t, then your loving your neighbor is nothing more then a pure secular religion, which the God of Heaven totally rejects! If so, then it is really not loving your neighbor as Christ loved his neighbor – that is the standard that God holds to, and by which He judges the world!

  15. How do you know that Preacher Tom?

  16. It sounds like tnpreacher does not know the difference between freedom of religion; and what should be embraced and accepted: freedom from.

    Parks are a place for people to enjoy themselves, not to be harassed by zealots.

  17. Fact of life: People who are out and about in public places don’t like being harassed by some jerk telling them that they will roast in hell if they don’t join his cult. Kudos to the police for helping to make Cornwall a more people-friendly place.

  18. Furtz- I don’t ask anyone to join your so called “cult”. But I do proclaim what the Holy Bible says, that without a personal, living relationship with God via the Lord Jesus Christ – God’s only appointed Saviour, when you die, you will go to hell! The Lord Jesus says this –

    Joh 8:24 “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins”.

    Again He said –
    Mar 16:15 -16 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”. What part of “damned’ don’t you understand?

    See Furtz and Kikila – there is my mandate to be in the parks, and on the streets – Preaching Christ, and why? “… he that believeth not shall be damned”. Love for the Saviour and the lost sinner compels me so!

    I am just obeying the Lord of Glory. God commands you to obey also – Act 17:30 -31 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead”.

    It is either turn or burn! Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

  19. Exactly. You should have stayed on the drugs. I’ll burn, thanks.

  20. Author

    So Tom do you have an actual comment on this subject or were you just looking for attention? 🙂

  21. I did comment on the part about free speech and how you left the meeting. Free speech is for some, not for all, even in Canada. I would’ve stayed at the meeting! Accountability is always needed, even when they do not want you around.

  22. From where I was sitting, Bernadette looked to have the majority of informative responses. Some of her answers had enough punch to knock the placard down on the front of her podium. I also felt the questions from the audience seats weren’t selected evenly through the room. And most of them draggged on.
    Mr Walsh was persuasive in a number of his answers and I was pleasantly taken with his generousity in commending a few LIberal policies.

  23. Admin
    Welcome to Cornwall politics, I am sorry it had to happen Jamie.

    Many people know and agree Guy is a no mind, but to continually pester him with pigeon pics and article based on personal opinions. Freedom of press does come with responsibility.

    We too know the postings on your site are not all that bipartisan.

    I think all your personal attacks on Guy have finally came back bite you.

    If we have turned in Cornwall again and we do vote Bernadette as our MP, we had best hope Iggy wins. If not we will have a hard four years ahead of us while Bernadette learns the ropes of federal politics as well as tries to get support from the Conservatives if they receive a majority government. Nice people don’t get much done at that level.

    I have mentioned before and this is based on experience, Cornwall politics are run in back rooms and in local businesses, Woodwards poll use to aid the conservatives quite well, there was a Deli poll that followed and aided Kilger, Lynch, Poirier or our liberal candidates. You could walk into these places and see who the winner was going be and by approximately how much percentage wise a week before the elections.

    If you think change is in the winds, you best take a good look at whose children are now in prominent positions. From that we can see just how this will influence absolutely no change in the Seaway city. It is inbred politics

    I think if you want to stir changes in this area, you need to do more then sit here and post on a small news paper. You tube should show the results of what happened to you Jamie; you should post the results of many of your discussions and experiences on YouTube.
    If not then the machine is in control and all the citizens are doing is falling into place. It also shows we have learned nothing from world events on change.

    Look at your posts on this article “Without Freedom of the Press we may as well live in China” This one is quite amusing “Parks are a place for people to enjoy themselves, not to be harassed by zealots” you post how suppression is prominent in our city, yet in China and the zealots are currently standing up against their so called suppression.

    What do we do in Cornwall…..complain or blame our inability on someone else.

    Realize that if you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.

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