CORNWALL Ontario – Hugo Rodrigues is new to Cornwall; but he certainly isn’t new to journalism. Besides now being the Editor in Chief of the oldest newspaper in Cornwall Mr. Rodrigues is the National President at the CAJ Canadian Association of Journalists. You would think that he, more than your average journo, would care more about the importance and values of journalism?
GOALS OF THE CORPORATION
The Corporation exists to promote excellence in journalism. The Corporation is the national voice of Canadian journalists and upholds the public’s right to know. The Corporation encourages and promotes investigative journalism.
Who doesn’t stand for those values? Does Mr. Rodrigues though? Did the Freeholder actually investigate a letter to the editor stating multiple facts before publishing it? This weekend Mr. Rodrigues paper, the Free Holder, published a political smear in the form of a Letter to the Editor. Normally a LTE is an op ed from the public. In this case the letter, allegedly written by an elderly vet, made statements of fact against the Mayor of South Stormont who was not contacted prior to the publication. This was done in an election year. The onus of media if taken to court over a defamation claim is to prove that what it published is true. That’s different than an offended party having to prove the statements are not true. That’s one of the reasons many letters to the editor are not printed, or are edited. There are other reasons of course which many people have complained about the Free Holder to CFN about as they seem to refuse to publish LTE’s critical of the Kilger council for example. From the letter:
As I went to sit down with my fellow friends to enjoy a good breakfast I was approached by South Stormont Township Mayor Bryan McGillis. He rudely interrupted me, using profane language, claiming I have something against him. This went on for about five minutes. …I am an 80-year-old war veteran and retired Domtar employee, who admittedly wants change in our township.
Now I had heard about this incident after it had happened, and before the letter was published two weeks later. The letter seemed very different from what I’d heard happened so I started to investigate. Surely if this incident had happened as Mr. Stewart remembered it wouldn’t have taken two weeks to present a LTE? So I called Mr. Stewart and interviewed him for ten minutes where he confirmed that he in fact
didn’t write the letter himself
the incident lasted 2 minutes, not 5 and that he was exaggerating
that immediately after the incident he sat with Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart and Richard Currier
that only one person was next to Mr. Stewart who was standing and not sitting when the event occurred & that his friends, Tammy Hart and Richard Currier came to sit with him and not vice versa
There was more as it was a ten minute call.
I called Mr. Rodrigues after my interview with Mr. Stewart to ask him about what happened with this LTE as I couldn’t imagine he personally having anything to do with it? Len Hooper normally runs the City Desk at the Free Holder.
At first the call was cordial but Hugo became upset. He said the LTE was opinion and that he stood by it although he did confirm that the Mayor was not contacted for confirmation of the facts.
Yesterday things became funky. Allegedly Mr. Currier escorted Mr. Stewart to police to file a claim that I had “harassed” him. Nothing to this point has come of that claim that Mr. Currier shared with others. Any CFN regulars know, and our archive of over 1,400 video clips show that when interviewing people I’m utterly polite.
If Mr. Stewart lied to police about this then wouldn’t his letter also most likely be “exaggerated” or lies as well? And who wrote the letter for Mr. Stewart? Could it also have been Mr. Currier or Ms Hart?
Last night Bob Noble, also part of the Tammy Hart Posse, posted on social media.
Mr. Noble has already been sent a legal notice from us for making defamatory statements similar to this one; but in this day of lightning social media defamation can be very damaging and the ability to combat false statements are rarely as quick as the spread of the lie.
Mr. Noble also made a similar false accusation regarding Howard Galganov who sent us an email rebutting Mr. Noble’s false accusation and clearly stating that he had not knowingly spoken to Mr. Noble and certainly not about the issue in question.
Mr. Noble has stated above that the Mayor harassed Mr. Stewart, but he wasn’t there to witness it. He stated this as fact, not opinion.
Mr. Noble claims that I asked Mr. Stewart to withdraw his letter. Mr. Noble was not present for the phone call and I can assure that Mr. Stewart was asked no such thing. Again, Mr. Noble states this as fact.
He states that I called the Freeholder claiming that Mr. Stewart would recant. That would require the Freeholder to disclose to Mr. Noble, and again how can he state this as fact? Does anyone believe that Mr. Rodrigues would confide in Mr. Noble?
And finally Mr. Noble claims that I have lied. Again another statement of fact which is not true.
We have certain freedoms in this society. We do not have the freedom to lie and perjure ourselves. For instance when Claude McIntosh & the Freeholder were sued (and lost) (while Mr. McIntosh worked for the Freeholder) called Etienne St. Aubin a jerk at the Waterfront Public Consultation in Cornwall it wasn’t for sharing his opinion that Etienne was a Jerk . It was because of the statement of fact that Mr. St. Aubin was a Jerk because of his action; an action that clearly Mr. St. Aubin hadn’t done. Claude hadn’t been at the event.
Sadly the ability to defend the truth is difficult in this day and age where gossip seems to travel far faster than the truth.
The truth does appear to be that a small group of people centered around Tammy Hart, and her followers Richard Currier, his wife, Bob Noble and his squeeze, and a few odd hangers on feel that they can spout lies and try to incite the public to take positions that are not truthful.
The big question is how does someone of Hugo Rodrigues’ pedigree get embroiled in these petty intrigues, and why he would allow the Freeholder to publish such a smear against anyone?
The BIG PICTURE here is very very ugly and reflects very poorly in how it seems some conduct themselves. I would hope that people would hold the media to higher standards; especially someone that is president of an association like the Canadian Association of Journalists.
Ms Hart has problems enough of her own creation to deal with. She has a pending round with the integrity commissioner and at least one lawsuit to deal with as she herself is running again in South Stormont. Will these back door intrigues help her get elected again? We’ll find out in October.
(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.)
Comment policy reminder
CFN suggests you post comments using your real name. If you wish to post with a pseudonym you can register that user id by emailing email@example.com with your name, address, phone number and user id you wish to register.