No, this column isn’t about Gilles or why I won’t be a member again of that group until they clean house. It’s about what sadly far too many people brand the culture of Cornwall Ontario to be; that of Fear and Ignorance.
Do I believe that? Well I don’t deep down, but an awful lot of people are trying to make me look wrong this week.
As many of you know I was yanked out of our City Council meeting for wearing a t shirt with the mayor’s picture on a milk carton by seven police officers that arrived according to another media outlet in less than one minute of the mayor hitting his panic button.
The mayor, Bob Kilger, a self described non techie and high school drop out, is nearly 70. Now that’s not a crime. But if you are not hip to the world and how things have changed since the 70’s, especially with the speed of information and the internet, that can lead to issues.
Not everyone acts well in the face of adversity. Some people when they are afraid do odd things….like hit panic buttons….or boycott local businesses. Gossip is a huge factor in the life blood of smaller communities. While Cornwall is a city of over 46,000 people in many ways it’s still the same small Mill town where if you stepped out of line you lost your job and not so long ago if you wanted a Federal or City Job you had to be “vetted” by the man in charge. You either were in or you were out.
While many here in Cornwall talk about the “old boy’s club” it really is the Little boys (and girls) club. It’s shrinking. There even was a news story out a year or so ago with one Joey Gault’s picture talking about how the Cornwall Club’s membership had shrank. That building btw, is now owned by Kilger bagman Gilles Latour.
And that’s when things get crazy in a town like Cornwall. Everything is so circular and interconnected that when the hive feels a threat it’s almost as though the whole town has to strike out and hit that panic button.
When we first broke our Lift Off story simply asking questions as to where the money went we were attacked,and even though founder Chris Savard was run out of our city CFN has still been branded the villain.
When we were forced to issue suit against Traci Trottier for breaching her no compete clause, which she lost, we were again punished by the clique. Her message to us:
Also – if you want to get down to it…you won’t look very good sueing a single mother of two who’s ex-husband has mere months to live with ALS. Former OPP – lots of connections – not sure who would even want to work for you. Also keep in mind that I am extremely good friends with the Savards, the Pommiers, the Kilgers, boat with the Sabourins…shall I continue?? Come after me if you wish but at the end of the day – no one will win.
See how things interconnect. Now some would suggest we were wrong for protecting our interest. Our radio station was new. We had the Chamber president, Scott Armstrong, who would be let go from Corus radio at about the same time as Ms Trottier, telling people that our station was pirate and he’d get us shut down. We had just sold a bunch of ads for her new show, and even though she had a clear 90 day no compete clause to avoid this exact situation she chose to jump ship.
Instead of Traci being vilified for hurting a local company and jumping to an American one; gossip, gossip, gossip, and somehow we were the villains. Her vindictiveness even leading her to the point of making false accusations to the police and trying to have me arrested not once, but twice! If I wasn’t lucky enough both times to be in crowded places I would have been charged and had to spend thousands of dollars defending myself.
The Cornwall police finally cautioned her, and warned her to keep away from me which for the most part she has thank goodness.
In the end she was right, nobody won; mostly the community lost. Traci is no longer employable in radio. Seaway Radio has been off the air for over a year in spite of some of the amazing interviews and shows we did with over 30,000 listens! Chris Savard, I guess liking CFN so much, dumped Cornwall Square’s ads with us and started Our Home Town before leaving his home town. The Pommiers, Sabourins, and Kilger, via the City; all have stopped advertising on CFN, and not because we don’t deliver eyeballs as Mr. Sabourin himself had a testimonial banner on our newspaper for over a year and the city has admitted that CFN, from old archived banners from 2011, still provided more web traffic to the Choose Cornwall website for all of 2012, than the advertisers they were paying.
Fear and Ignorance. It’s bad enough in itself, but when it creeps into the upper levels of a culture and society? It’s not just the bullies,but those that give them their false power by their fear and silence.
Cornwall is not a bad place or city. It is an uneducated one in many ways. It’s technically backwards in many ways, but it’s a city in transition. While Kingston had Queen’s University; Cornwall had textile mills and chemical plants. But how on earth will we ever attract the entrepreneurs and talent to help with that transition if we kill every new thing that isn’t part of the hive? Will distribution jobs attract the builders of a community alone?
The air in Cornwall is probably cleaner than Kingston’s now. While there are feeble attempts and chatter about bringing higher education, arts and culture to Cornwall those have to be viewed as seeds of hope; like CFN has been. After all, we have grown and thrived in many ways in our four years. We’ve changed Cornwall and change can scare the ignorant; to the point of striking out and trying to maim and kill like a frightened animal that’s cornered.
Reading columns in other media this week and seeing some of the comments was frankly sad and embarrassing. Some of the people who wrote such things I’m not sure should be allowed to walk around without supervision?
I can tell them one thing. People that seek and want attention do not choose to live in Cornwall. Honestly! One major media outlet when querying me about the council meeting story even joked that Cornwall is not the center of the universe.
So dear viewer of CFN, and to those 70-75% of you who look from outside Cornwall and wonder how we survive some of these circus antics, it ain’t easy 🙂
But again, I’m an optimist. I see change happening. I see some of the bogeymen and bullies being beaten down and slithering back into the shadows or fleeing to the comfort of honey haired maidens in far off places, and it gives me strength. The Emperor’s really are not wearing any clothes.
These past few weeks, before the council meeting, CFN had 5 clients bullied away. Excuses from lost catering, to threats of not getting permits if their ads stayed up on CFN were enough for these businesses if the buzz is to be believed. I heard from business owners that stated clearly that they wanted to advertise with us, but were afraid of repercussions. None of those that cancelled their ads cited a lack of results or complaint.
Not a good way to grow a community. But this week I saw some people stand up to some of the bullies, and again that gives me strength and hope.
And one of the biggest things I love about this city is that it has the chance, as it evolves and comes out of its cocoon, to blossom into something very very special, but that can only happen if we as a city stand up to fear and ignorance; stand up to the bullies, and take control of our city and build strong new foundations, one brick and block at a time.
I and CFN hope to be there shining the light on some of those great steps forward, and helping lead our great city forward.
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