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

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!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDpEp5JFrZA

Coffey's Coffee

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Clifford Stork
Guest
Clifford Stork

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.

Diane Marshall
Guest

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.

Jerry
Member
Jerry

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… Read more »

Stan
Member
Stan

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!

The Watcher
Member
The Watcher

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… Read more »

Jason
Member
Jason

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

PJ Robertson
Member
PJ Robertson

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.

garywsamler
Member
garywsamler

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… Read more »

Devils Advocate
Guest
Devils Advocate

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”.

http://standard-freeholder.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3091067

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!

tnpreacher555
Member

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!

Stan
Member
Stan

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”.

Furtz
Member
Furtz

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

tnpreacher555
Member

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… Read more »

Stan
Member
Stan

How do you know that Preacher Tom?

Kikila
Guest
Kikila

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.

Furtz
Member
Furtz

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.

tnpreacher555
Member

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… Read more »

Furtz
Member
Furtz

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

tnpreacher555
Member

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.

Ken Smith
Guest
Ken Smith

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.

smee
Member
smee

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… Read more »