Thunder Bay's Mayor has decided he will no longer make himself available to reporters from Dougall Media.
The action comes following a complaint he lodged over a reader comment posted on tbnewswatch.com (read full comment below). It's a comment Hobbs said is libelous, in that it accuses members of council of "being on the take."
Dougall Media's director of news and public affairs Barry Third said all submissions are vetted prior to being posted in the online comment section. A secondary review of this posting was undertaken following the mayor's complaint.
That review found the poster was expressing concerns with the city's at-large/ ward electoral system, putting forward the opinion that it left individual members of council open to being bought. However, the submission contained no allegation that this had actually occurred. Nor was there any suggestion that a member of council was actually "on the take."
Third said it was simply an opinion about possible problems with the electoral system. And he says in the absence of anything that was directly defamatory, there were no grounds to delete the comment.
Third goes on to say that the website's comment section provides a valuable forum for people to express their opinions. While it doesn't necessarily endorse the views expressed, it's Dougall Media's belief they do have the right to have those opinions heard.
He added that while he regrets the impact the mayor's decision will have on the company's various audiences, he wants to assure them Dougall Media will continue to vigorously pursue stories of interest at city hall using the wide variety of sources that remain available to us.
Following is the comment as it originally appeared on tbnewswatch.com, which was posted in response to another comment made on a story about the Fort William First Nations band election:
Secret Squirrel says:
I believe its something in the Indian Act that states how many councillors they must have per people.
Its a ridiculously high (in my opinion) number.
The reason our city has so many is for one reason.. its easier to steam roll over ward councillors who have issues pertaining to it. I will use an extreme example to explain it..
Lets say someone wants to build a nuclear waste facility in Northwood. Well, the Northwood councillor will say NO, but the rest of council will say yes because it theoretically doesn't affect them.
In the case of the ward councillors sticking together to a degree, that leaves the unaccountable at large councillors free to push their agenda through effectively steamrolling the public.
This is a tactic used when a city council wants to control its citizens rather than represent them. It also allows more of them to be bought by various entities to apply their wishes.
then if some object, theres still plenty to outvote those who do.