Letter to the Editor – Mayor of Cornwall Ontario Bob Kilger on City’s Advertising Policy – December 22, 2011


Dear Editor, 

I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify City Council’s recent decision regarding the establishment of an advertising policy. 

There have been some misguided suggestions that this is an attempt to censor public discussion. This is simply not the case. The City of Cornwall enjoys a positive working relationship with the media, and it is one that we value and respect. Members of City Council and City Administration always make themselves available to the media and the public. 

The City is also open and receptive to feedback and constructive criticism from members of the public. We welcome public input because it helps us to better understand residents’ concerns and priorities surrounding municipal matters. 

The motion debated and passed by Council dealt solely with advertising and was strictly about the City of Cornwall’s right to choose where to advertise. City staff believe that advertising on web sites or publications with offensive content undermines the positive values of the City of Cornwall brand. This includes websites or publications outside of Cornwall. These guidelines have always been followed as an ‘unwritten rule’ – the Council report simply examined the issue in an open and transparent manner. 

The City has not asked the media to do anything. In fact, local journalists already follow their own professional guidelines regarding what is acceptable commentary, and local media organizations already enact varying policies to remove what is perceived to be offensive commentary. The City of Cornwall’s advertising guidelines simply mirror the same generally accepted guidelines in place in most media organizations.


Mayor Bob Kilger




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Cornwall Free News

Offer ends December 30, 2011!


  1. The city already has the right to choose who it opts to advertize with. You needed to pass a motion for this?

    The term offensive is quite vague. Who determines the guidelines and who monitors them?
    Is there some place that we can see a documented version of “the positive values of the City of Cornwall brand” Or does the term suit to fit certain people .
    I am sure this letter was meant to smooth irate people and tries to explain what the cities intent is. As it reads now it appears to be no more them semantics again.
    There is no definitive explanation of “the positive values of the City of Cornwall brand” It is open to interpretation. If we let Sid use his wisdom apparently we find the term for a dirty, untidy, or slovenly woman, or Slovenly, Lewd, Untidy Trollop. Has he ever had to prove this comment exists or is council taking this at face value?
    Now it appears Bob Is trying to save face in light of a poorly managed council decision.

    As Joseph Goebbels once said
    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

  2. Author

    I have asked the city for an apology due the damage caused to CFN because of this quote which I and others feel to be most inaccurate, and somehow out of all the report has been picked up by other media. The city quickly dropped the issue of online anonymity and now is focusing on issues that only embarrass itself.

    I’m hoping that this happens before our 3rd Birthday in February.

    We have always been fully moderated, and as any of the over 7,000+ people who visit us 25 or more times per month know definitely not “OFTEN” filled with vicious personal attacks or profanity as quoted below from the report.

    A review of local news websites show that only two allow anonymous posts: the Standard-Freeholderand the Cornwall Free News. Both sites have some moderation of comments, but a review of activity over the past several months have led staff to concur with the generalized assessment of the practice by the American Journalism Review: “Comment sections are often packed with profanity, and vicious personal attacks.”

  3. Careful Admin
    Refer to the discussion on Trudeau and the feedback from PJR and Furtz. As I said there they have no value on a discussion therefore attack the individual. It is a precise display of what they are talking about at city hall.

    For the most part you do an amazing job on moderation but…..well as I stated above……see above. Have people bring something to the table whne they want to discuss topics.

  4. @ smee. Huh? I just looked over my comments you referred to. If anyone is offended by any of them, they have a serious problem.
    And this…. “As I said there they have no value on a discussion therefore attack the individual.”
    Makes no sense. Can you translate that sentence?

  5. What I find offensive and what others find offensive can be two very different things. Some people find it offensive to be told “Merry Christmas”. I find it offensive to hear Dalton McGuinty tell me he’s saving me money….. Where will that end? Jamie does a good job moderating here and some people need to find a better excuse….. or a life….

  6. As we have pointed out before and as Mayor Kilger stated the city always has had the right to chose who to advertise with, and they always will have. If indeed he believes that the press are self moderating then there was no reason for the policy in the first place. If there is no intention of censorship then why has Mr. Peters been assigned to act as the grand inquisitor and demand that the required censorship, excuse me, content sanitization be retroactive. The least they could do is define what the city means by “inflamatory or offensive” .

    I think the whole city advertising policy is inflamatory and offensive and defamatory towards the media in general and Cornwall Free News in particular. The reports by Grand Inquisitor Peters which lead to the policy are a matter of public record as is the CBC radio report. The false information in both incidences have never been corrected or even apologized for.

  7. Just a few thoughts that will surely p!ss off both sides of this argument.
    If CFN depends on advertising revenue from the city (Council) in order to survive and prosper, it will have to play by Mr. Peters’ rules. If not, CFN should maybe politely tell Council and Mr. Peters to take a flying leap at the moon, and continue reporting on local issues as it has been doing quite well. Since when, in Canada, does a two-bit city council have control of the press? IMHO, Mr Peters and Council need a serious slap-down and a lesson in the realities of having to put up a free press.

  8. edit: with a free press.

  9. Jamie: Re: ‘profanity and vicious personal attacks’, it might be helpful to clarify CFN’s policy and position once and for all. Profanity should be easy, since you published clearly on this very recently. Personal attack – vicious or otherwise – is another story, and warrants, to judge by some posts, clearer definition. Or, rather, clearer distinction from debating an issue.

    For example, taking issue with a post or statement is NOT the same as taking issue with the person making the post or statement. If I say A’s statement is ridiculous and stupid, I am NOT saying A is ridiculous and stupid. I am saying the statement is ridiculous and stupid, and I had better say why I think so. But no way am I attacking A.

    It’s the difference between criticism of a view and personal attack. And between critical thinking and mere assertion. The differences are crucial to debate. Critical thinking and critical judgment of the statement/view/fact are essential to debate, since the point criticized may in turn be defended, and hopefully a lively tennis match may engaged. Always, I emphasize, fact-based or related to facts.

    In contrast, mere assertion and attack kill debate. Notorious examples: 1) branding the late Jack Layton as “Taliban Jack” because of his offer to help stop the fighting through opening talks with the Taliban; 2) Peter Kent’s sneering riposte to an opposition MP to the effect how could they speak on the climate change talks in Durban, if they weren’t present at the talks…when Kent knew very well that he had denied opposition MPs the opportunity to be in Durban. Assertion and personal attack are the tactics of the bully who wants to kill debate.

    To confuse critical thinking with personal attack is also a tactic to run away from or kill debate.

    Ideally, courtesy is the underpinning of civilised debate.

    There’s my two cents.

  10. Author

    Hi PJ,

    I think we had a good thing going until all of this hypocritical drama from certain individuals from the City of Cornwall.

    I appreciate and agree with the sentiments in your post and thanks for a very legitimate question.

    In 2012 I think we’ll get back to basics; and that’s the legal definition of defamation. We are here to entertain and inform. I can tell you nothing turns off viewers than two people trying to out shout or just do the name call thing and it I don’t think we’ll see a lot of that this year.

    Merry Christmas to you and the family and 2012 is going to be a great year!


  11. Thanks, Jamie.

    And all the very best to you and yours for Christmas and the New Year.

    You do a marvellous job and the community marvellous service with CFN.


    PS Ideally, too, posters do you and CFN the courtesy of making their posts coherent and literate.

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