Editorial by Jamie Gilcig on the City of Cornwall’s Advertising Policy Against the Cornwall Free News

CFN –  What a weird and tiring week.   So much of the energy I had to expend this week was wasted because of some very thin skinned and incompetent people at city hall here in Cornwall.

Whenever you enact a policy or law it should be something that makes sense; is grounded in logic and have a purpose.  It should also be something that is generally accepted and actually is enforceable.

The policy voted in place by Mayor Kilger, and councilors Elaine MacDonald, Syd Gardiner, David Murphy, Denis Carr, and Denis Thibault would most likely never stand a legal challenge.    I’m not sure that anyone will ever challenge it though as it’s an awful lot of money to spend.  For example if I reported that Justin Trudeau called Peter Kent a “piece of shit” in Parliament I’d be violating the policy.  It’s also only a policy that at the moment impacts The Cornwall Free News.

What I do know is that if the fundamental purpose of this exercise was to improve the “Brand” of Cornwall Ontario someone should be fired or resign.    This experience has taught me a lot personally.

In today’s age it apparently pays to lie and apply the truth in non truthful ways.

When I first received the report I was shocked.  It clearly was targeted at CFN and I’m still confused as to why other than perhaps a few councilors with affiliations of varying degrees with other media outlets?

The report alleged that we were not moderated.  That was clearly not true and the author of the Report, Mr. Bob Peters, clearly knew this to be true as we’ve spoken regularly and extensively since the inception of this Newspaper.

For Mr. Peters to choose a quote that included the term “OFTEN” full of profanity and viscous personal attacks was equally  boggling?    I notified council and the city of such, but the report was still tabled and this week it seems the only text quoted on the CBC and other media outlets were versions of that false statement.

One should never have to litigate to resolve an issue.  It should always be a means of utter and final last resort.    I’ve always felt that; which could be why we have no lawyers advertising on CFN 🙂

I was interviewed by CBC French TV from Ottawa/Gatineau this week at Island Inkjet on 3rd and Pitt.    A few bits reached radio and tv and here are a few clips from the interview.

Cliques and Waterfront Development


On the Advertising Policy


Main interview


So I would ask why the Witch hunt?  Today Claude McIntosh wrote a great piece mentioning much of what this is about and mentioning what some of the “big picture” is.    LINK

According to city hall, the report presented Monday night followed complaints from the (unnamed) citizens and business people about unsavoury anonymous comments posted on the Cornwall Free News and Standard-Freeholder websites.

One city council source said it has more to do with comments posted on the maverick Free Snooze site, particulary a vicious asssault on a manager of Corus Radio, comments one could easily argue exceeded the boundaries of decency.

But that is a matter between the parties involved and the city should not be rushing to protect the integrity of a private citizen in a private matter, regardless of friendships.

Council also took issue with a splash of anonymous comments on the Standard-Freeholder website. Apparently, the Corus website passes the smell test with flying colours.

City hall said the new policy is about protecting the city brand (a.k.a image)  from being tarnished and has nothing to do with suppressing free speech or forcing mediums to toe the line.

The city’s image tarnished by “offensive and inflammatory” language on a website?

You’ve got to be kidding.

Talk about using a hammer to kill a mite.

I’ve had to answer questions about this mess from as far away as Austin Texas this week.   People are shaking their heads.    One of the  jobs of the media is to be the eyes and ears for all of us.  We’re supposed to sit in court rooms and report injustices; city council meetings the same.

This week alone I’ve had one person ask our support about a building complex that is refusing to allow people of colour to reside; another group of minor hockey parents that want a committee formed to decide which kids play where because of  cronyism, and a grand mom who’s frantic as CAS won’t let her have access to her grand kids for Christmas.   We work on many stories like this with most not reaching the paper.   It’s amazing what the thought of bad publicity can do to people who are not following the rules?

For example the Province of Ontario at the moment doesn’t have any ads with us, but did on other media locally that were savaging the government.  You don’t advertise based on editorial positions.   You advertise to promote and communicate to the public.  The only factors should be about results.  In 2011 the Cornwall Free News sent 18% more traffic to the Choose Cornwall website than we did in 2010 and are the number one provider of traffic to the site after search engines and Facebook.  (Does this new policy impact the city advertising with Facebook as there are horrible things written about them there?)

I’m very proud of those numbers that Mr. Peters shared with me.

February is our 3rd anniversary.  I personally have written over 4,500 pieces for CFN; shot over 800 video clips; produced over 100 episodes of Seaway Radio and offered hundreds of hours of service to my community.   The vast majority of those pieces have been quite positive about my home town.    I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, and what you have accomplished by supporting CFN whether simply by viewing us or from supporting our sponsors who pay for us to survive and yes,that includes the City of Cornwall.

Nearly 14,000 viewer comments have been posted to CFN and that’s a huge bone of contention for those that want us to be shut up and shut down.    And that ladies and gentlemen are where we are at.

The “clique” at city hall, a small group but with a lot of influence, are trying to get us shut down.   Pressures are put on our sponsors, and on those that might become a sponsor.    Pressures have been put even on our rare interns!   No, I’m not looking for sympathy.   I’m not even looking for justice.   This is after all a business, but it’s a business in this community, and its survival isn’t indicative so much on my skills as it is on the heavy handed and brutal manner than elements at City Hall are treating this newspaper.

I’m glad to see people like Claude stand up to this sort of petty McCarthyism.   We are an evolving and growing business in an evolving city that’s in the process of a huge transformation.

Like I said.  The cliques need to be smashed.  Those that can’t act responsibly in their positions of trust need to either be fired or removed come election time.    We have such a huge opportunity in this wonderful community that we simply should not waste.

We need to send messages to those that live in Cornwall, and those that are considering moving here or doing business here that we are a proud community of integrity that is a positive place to participate and be a part of.

That can only happen from deed and action.  You can’t puff, and then slither back into the shadows spitting venom at those that don’t  cow tow to you.

Jamie Gilcig – Editor

The Cornwall Free News

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)

James Moak



  1. Sure looks like council has painted itself into a corner here. Are any of them smart enough to be embarrassed?

  2. Author

    Furtz they are busy being embarrassed over the Diane Shay case. I’m grateful for Councilors Grant, Clement, and Dupelle voting against this policy and I have a hunch councilor O’Shaughnessy would not have voted for it either.

  3. Hi Jamie – When I moved here, I was told that Cornwall was a cliquish town. Don’t shake the boat I was told. I guess the cligue rules or tries to do so. The actions of the City is outright censorship of the worst kind. Councillors who voted for this policy should be ashamed of themselves.

    In order to prove that comments in the CFN are below their whatever standard, they will have to check every comment that is made by the publisher, the contributors,and people like me who provide comments. Will the censor and judge be one person, a committee or City Council? Who will act as judge and jury? Whoever does decide, should give details of what exactly is offensive and this should be done for all media outlets in Cornwall. Will the censor also look at all statements by our local, Federal (especially) and Provincial politicians who OFTEN express “untruths” to the media. All considered, this is an awful policy that should be repealed as soon as possible. With this policy, the City has opened a Can Of Worms that will soon begin to stink.

    The CFN has added colour and vibrancy to the City. Please don’t shut up or shut down. The CFN deserves to be supported.

  4. Author

    Thank you Jerry for those kinds words. Someone suggested today that this week’s drama was meant to deflect attention from the Diane Shaye case that’s still in play and has yet to be resolved. Apparently there were even jokes on stage at the Team Cornwall Celebration of…..somethings, many of which were actually projects from 2010.

  5. Well Jamie, even if we don’t agree politically, this publication still deserves to be available to all. If all those fascists in city hall have their way, the only voices to be heard will be their own. which is what they want but not what the spirit of the Canadian Constitution intended. Keep pushing Jamie. I’ll push with you even if I don’t live in Cornwall.

  6. Pushing is good Jamie, but sometimes you need to pull a little too so they can believe they have been doing the pushing

  7. Is this really such a mystery? Your rants and personal attacks on “enemies” are slanderous and vindictive. “News” is meant to be unbiased, or at the very least, not so blatantly obvious about the biases. I respect your paper in the same way I respect anyone’s blog, an opinion. But a credible news source, no. You have tarnished your reputation by having emotional overractions to everything that happens to you or around you. I suspect the advertising policy was the city’s cowardly way of telling you that they didn’t want to be linked to you, personally. Sorry man, someone had to enlighten you.

  8. Author

    As you can see from this “anonymous” post I have much thicker skin than Mr. Fitzpatrick and friends 🙂

  9. Careful Jamie
    Many people claim your ego is way too big. In some cases I agree. Your writings are good but you will do no more then stir the pot with this approach. If you want people having influence on board, you definitely need to change your approach

    It could be considered as not a thick skin but no pride in yourself.

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