Friday, February 7, 2014

NORTHERN PEN SHOULD GET IT'S FACTS RIGHT: IT NEVER HAPPENED THAT WAY

The facts, stick to the facts, my old journalism instructors used to say, Polemic and Paradox likes to wax polemic but when I get it wrong - I have no issue saying so. 

I don't have a team of fact checkers or editors to spellcheck or proof my posts.

Earlier today, I was quick out of the gate to respond to a news story on the Northern Pen web site and in the paper edition. The paper covers the news on the Great Northern Peninsula. The headline screamed " Lack of Communication: Local Liberal Association president wasn’t consulted about Mitchelmore joining party."

The article by reporter Adam Randall quoted the president of the Straits-White Bay North Liberal Association who said she was not consulted on the party's acceptance of Christopher Mitchelmore into the Liberal Caucus. It turns out that what I accepted as fact, from a reputable newspaper, may have been inaccurate.

Certainly the executive of the local Liberal Association is not every single Liberal in the district, but they are the party's leadership in the district. The concerns were valid and the news as presented was was very disappointing to me.

I spoke to Opposition Leader Dwight Ball this evening. He welcomed the opportunity to respond to the story and set the record straight. Ball said the party has not had an active association in Straits-White Bay North for a number of years. The last election of officers was in 2009 for a two year term. There is not district association currently in place.

He also indicated, to my delight,  that he and members of his caucus had spoken with many people in the district, including registered Liberals about the potential of Mitchelmore joining the Liberal Caucus in the House of Assembly. It would be unfair and untrue to say that there was no communication or discussion with Liberals in the district of Straits-White Bay North.

I have forwarded an e-mail to Mr. Randall seeking clarification of his report. The Liberal Party has confirmed that Kaye Gilbert, the women quoted in the story as the President of the  Straits-White Bay North Liberal Association is actually not. In fact there is no Liberal Association in the district. If there is, they have not forwarded minutes of annual meetings, elections of officers and in effect do not have status.

The Party may be splitting hairs on who speaks for Liberals in the district, but if the local association is defunct, it does not exist. It is not fair or accurate to report that there was a failure to consult or invite an organization that does not exist.  However, if the party has a list of former executive members they should have reached out to them. I do not think that there is a serious communication problem as much as there could have been more attention paid to those who are seen to be prominent active Liberals in the district.

As I said in my original post, say it never happened that way. I am happy that it did not.

Ball tells me he is committed to inclusion, transparency, a robust and open nomination process.

I'll post my letter to the reporter later tonight. I am very interested in learning if he contacted the Liberal Party regarding the status of the individuals he quoted in his story.

I hope the Northern Pen will take my lead and print a clarification to ensure the public record is corrected to reflect the facts of the matter of consultation with Liberals in the district of Straits-White Bay North.

I would also like to thank Mr. Ball for taking the time to discuss the issue with me. It is certainly reassuring that leader did not ignore the local Liberal Association. The opinions and activities of local Liberals are of paramount concern to him.

As I said respect is a two way street, Dwight Ball has mine!  










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