Political Spotlight Not Always What It Seems

Comments posted online matter, in politics, in business, and in relationships.
Comments posted online matter, in politics, in business, and in relationships.
Comments posted online matter, in politics, in business, and in relationships.

Thinking Before Speaking Always an Asset

THUNDER BAY – Political Editorial – The world of politics is a tough one. Political candidates in today’s world of social media have the ability to impact a national campaign or provincial campaign in nano-seconds. In Thunder Bay Superior North, Progressive Conservative candidate Tamara Johnson offered a demonstration of the new world that politicians function in isn’t always what they hope it will be.

Johnson started commenting on the James Street Bridge in Thunder Bay after Fort William First Nation hosted a public meeting.

In her comments, the Progressive Conservative candidate lashed out at First Nations, lashed out at small business, and lashed out at media.

Today, the candidate has announced that she is stepping aside as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Thunder Bay Superior North.

The Progressive Conservative Party has been issuing a series of White Papers. On Northern Ontario, Tim Hudak states, “My plan is for Ontario to once again be the engine of Canada’s economic growth. Northern Ontario, rich in natural resources and high-tech hubs in cities like North Bay and Thunder Bay, will provide the fuel for that growth. As a former Minister of Northern Development and Mines, as well as Minister of Tourism, I love the north and had a unique opportunity to travel there extensively, talking to families and businesses”.

One of the political realities in the North is that First Nations have to be at the table.

Mr. Hudak’s Thunder Bay Superior North candidate jumped head-first into what was seen by First Nations people and leaders as a war of insults. It was also a complete demonstration of a lack of understanding of treaty rights, and of provincial responsibilities.

It is likely that the candidate’s comments on Facebook, and then in media interviews would have sunk the PC Party fortunes in Thunder Bay.

Freedom of speech is one thing, and Ms. Johnson certainly has the right to her opinions.

However, once an individual become a candidate for a political party, they also have a responsibility for communication of the party platform, and the ideals of the party.

Those who might believe that Ms. Johnson has been punished in a world seeking only political correctness, are overlooking that once she signed on as a member of the PC team, she had defacto signed on as the voice of the party in the riding.

Her comments were not reflective according to sources telling NetNewsLedger of the PC Party of Ontario.

Her opinions include her comments on New Democrat candidate Andrew Fould: “NDP Candidate Andrew Foulds. You are probably asking yourself what did he have to do with this? The answer is nothing. And nothing is exactly what he will do for you – on any issue – let alone an issue carrying any degree of controversy. He will hide from any controversy. He is a gutless socialist. Where I publicly took a stand and said there is a distinct unfairness in a situation where one gas retailer (native) can sell gas without charging for taxes and another gas retailer ( non-native) cannot, he hid behind some green bush somewhere. Where I said there is a distinct unfairness in a situation where one tobacco retailer (native) can sell tobacco products without charging taxes and another tobacco retailer (non-native) cannot, he crawled under his bed and hoped no one would ask for his thoughts, his views, his opinion on this issue. Why? Because he has no guts. He is a coward. He will never – absolutely never- represent you in any meaningful way. He is not out for you he is out for Andrew Foulds. Do you believe for one moment he cares about the non-native gas retailer in Schreiber or Geraldton? Do you think he has for a split second thought about the corner store proprietor in Current River or Lappe? Not a chance in hell. And he never will. Why? Because you do not matter to him. This spoiled, gutless, pansy coward actually believes he is ENTITLED to represent this riding. Where I was painting my bathroom walls when the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario called me and asked if I would be a candidate, Foulds has planned for years to run for office, swept in by well intentioned but misguided union members. Do you really believe he is going to come out and say no one is above the law; that native protestors illegally blockading our roadways should be put in jail; that our corner stores and gas retailers should not have to compete with natives illegally not charging taxes on sales? Not a chance in hell. He doesn’t give a damn about you. And he never will. Look at him. Look hard. He is a spoiled, gutless, pansy, coward. It shows. He can’t hide it.

On media: “James Murray of Net Newsledger is a blind oracle for Michael Gravelle and the Ontario Liberals. This man and his wannabe news agency is absolutely agenda driven – facts and truth be dammed! I hope everyone is aware he actually wrote Tim Hudak demanding my removal. I’m not kidding. He sent me a copy of his letter. For what? Because he didn’t like the truth? Or was it because he didn’t like anyone speaking the truth? His solution was to cruelly cloak my involvement in this entire saga under the banner of “racism” and try to have me removed as a candidate.

For the record here is the questions that NNL has asked Tim Hudak and Tamara Johnson:

James Murray from NetNewsLedger in Thunder Bay.
This is the comment posted by the PC candidate in Thunder Bay Superior North on Facebook regarding the issue of a bridge closure that is impacting both Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation.
My questions:
1. Do the comments Tamara Johnson is making reflect the values of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario?
2. The closure of the CN Rail Bridge is impacting both Thunder Bay businesses, the Robins Donuts is losing $1200 per day. Westfort Foods is impacted with a 10% drop in sales.
Businesses on the First Nation are impacted as is safety of students now forced to do a long commute.
Do you feel Tamara Johnson the PC Candidate for Thunder Bay Superior North in her comments is reflecting an understanding of business issues in Northern Ontario?
3. If Ms Johnson remains the candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party in Thunder Bay Superior North do you feel that the message you will be sending to Aboriginal residents in Northern Ontario will help with mining and efforts in the Ring of Fire?
4. If Ms Johnson remains your candidate, how do you feel this impacts the PC Party of Ontario?
Those same questions were asked of Ms. Johnson. Those are the questions that she felt were “under the banner of racism”.
As far as being a “blind oracle” for any political party, NetNewsLedger functions on the principle that “We follow the truth and report on the story”.
That might not be as edgy or as exciting as some of the stands that the PC Candidate in Thunder Bay Superior North takes, which have including calling the Ontario Minister of Finance a “moron”, or calling former  United States Secretary of State General Colin Powell a “moron” as well.
It might not be as exciting as calling her NDP counterpart a “spoiled, gutless, pansy, coward”.
There likely might be a market for those kinds of views. But it is an increasingly small market.

Insulting Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay might have worked in the past, today, First Nations are finding their voices, and realizing that they make a tremendous contribution to Thunder Bay’s economy.

Having a non-understanding of the responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments is something one would not suspect would be left outside of the political training. It appears to be just that. However by moving forward, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives have demonstrated that those comments are not acceptable.

In many ways, the now former candidate was insulting small business. One would think the backbone of the Progressive Conservative target market one would think would be the last thing that a Progressive Conservative candidate would be doing. However that is exactly what the former candidate was doing.

Tim Hudak had the opportunity to demonstrate the kind of leadership that the PC Party is demanding of the Liberal Party.

Tim Hudak had a very short window of opportunity in this matter.

Tim Hudak is seeking to form government, and in order to do that also wants to reach his goals in Northern Ontario, and work with First Nations.

The PC leader was faced with a choice.

In choosing to ‘shut off the spotlight’ on a person who was not representing the views of the Progressive Conservative Party, Hudak is risking offending the people who might support the kinds of comments that led to the candidate stepping down.

It is hard to say how the Thunder Bay Superior North PCs will do in the next election, but for Tim Hudak, regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, he took a solid stand on what is right and what is acceptable.

The lesson to all might be to re-visit Facebook and Social Media Postings, and to do as many have advocated, ‘Think before you post’.

That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray

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