The column in Tuesday’s Milton Canadian Champion was an open endorsement of incumbent candidate for Mayor, Gord Krantz, from beginning to end. Even the headline ‘Krantz safe bet’ makes no effort to disguise the paper’s stance on who they are backing for Mayor of Milton come October 25th.As the local newspaper with the largest circulation in the area I believe the Champion should understand that it is in a position to sway the electorate and should refrain from endorsing any candidate for any position. I would much rather have seen an editorial identifying voter apathy as a major issue and using the power of its circulation to sway the population to actually get out and vote. — Martin Capper, Candidate for Ward 1
Do you have a problem with this?
Should we have a problem with this?
I’m not entirely sure, which is why I’m soliciting your feedback on this one.
I suppose we shouldn’t really have a problem when it comes to the mainstream media picking sides, so to speak. Look no further than just to the east, down that little dirt road to the City of Toronto. It’s hardly a secret that the city’s two competing newspapers each have their own political leanings. The Toronto Star is generally regarded to be the ‘Liberal’ or left-leaning media outlet as opposed to the ‘Conservative’, right-wing Toronto Sun.
But is it the same thing when it comes to the Milton Canadian Champion and municipal politics? I have to admit that I’m a wee bit uncomfortable about it.
For your reading pleasure, here is the editorial from this week’s Champion:
Four years ago, we advised that voters seeking change on town council should make their choices carefully to ensure change was for the better, especially when it came to the top job.
Just like in 2006, Gerry Marsh and Al Volpe are challenging politically-seasoned incumbent Gord Krantz for mayor of Milton. And this time around newcomer Qadeer Shah has joined the race.
As we said a week before the municipal election in 2006, we would find it difficult to support a mayoral candidate whom we haven’t witnessed in the community exhibiting the dynamic leadership skills required for the position.
While we give Marsh, Shah and Volpe full marks for getting involved in the electoral process and having the confidence to go up against one of the longest serving mayors, we would need to see them in action as forerunners — in a prominent sector of the Milton community, preferably in some political capacity — before checking one of their names on a ballot to lead the town.
Krantz himself previously served as a town councillor for many years.
We don’t believe Krantz’s time as a local political icon is over yet. By the end of the night Monday, we predict he’ll be entering yet another term as mayor.
Here’s the thing: Milton is obviously a heck of a lot smaller than Toronto and has only one newspaper. With all due respect to websites such as this one as well as popular online forums like Milton Moms and the Hawthorne Villager, the Canadian Champion has a much larger reach and is the only printed publication of its kind in town. There is also a statistic (I have seen it, but can’t find it anywhere right now to reference) that readers in general, are more likely to trust and believe in information that has been put into physical print (advertisements, publications), in relation to any other medium. Basically, the local newspaper has the ability to both inform, and sway potential voters.
In this case, my instinct tells me that our only local mainstream news source should be taking a non-partisan approach to this election.
Does it really matter? Possibly not.
The popular opinion out there is that Mr. Krantz will continue his impressive run as Mayor of Milton (Mayor since 1980 and councillor since 1965). However, this is a very interesting election for Milton in 2010. Residents of ‘new’ Milton (post-2000 development) now vastly outnumber those living within the traditional older urban boundaries and many newer residents have become increasingly frustrated with a wide variety of issues like gridlock, the pace of new development, the lack of infrastructure to support said development and the lack of any expansion to Milton District Hospital to name a few. Granted, many of these issues shouldn’t necessarily fall at the feet of our current Mayor, but voter discontent is not to be underestimated by any politician.
Given Milton’s changing demographics, Mr. Krantz could very well be on the hot seat this time around and you can make the case that it may indeed be time for a change simply based on the issues raised above. Many of the problems Milton is facing are serious and egregious enough that it isn’t out of the question to suggest the Mayor should and may ‘fall on his sword’ here.
Well, ironically, that’s exactly what the Toronto Star thinks. Just this morning, they chimed in on the various political races in Halton Region and had the following to say on the race for Mayor of our fair town:
Gord Krantz is running again after 30 years as mayor. We endorsed him last time, with a caveat that it should be his last term in office before making way for someone new. This time we favour Gerry Marsh, a local store-owner and former IBM employee who wants more government transparency and more scrutiny of developers’ plans. He deserves a chance to show what he can do.
Again, I’m not sure what the right answer is here, but I do know that I felt a little uncomfortable in reading the Champion’s editorial stance on this one. To me, it smacks of ‘playing favourites’ and that can be dangerous for a media outlet, especially our town’s largest voice. A simple editorial like this can go a long way toward damaging their integrity and by extension, reader trust.
And I realize the article referenced above is an ‘editorial’. I get that. Still, I find the ‘editorial’ to be a wee bit arrogant for my liking as it seems to simply poo-poo the notion of any of the other candidates’ viability in the Mayor’s chair, given none have previously served on Town Council. I’m not denying it would be an asset, but if you look at their qualifications, especially those of Mr. Marsh, you can’t simply dismiss them. If you look around at the other wards, you’ll quickly also realize there are many qualified candidates vying for the position of first-time councillor.
As well, I simply feel that the Champion — even in an editorial — has a responsibility to refrain from openly backing candidates of their choosing. As previously mentioned, they are the only major media game in town and have a certain amount of clout when it comes to the persuasion of its readers. Either provide editorials promoting the positives of each of the candidates’ campaigns, or simply refrain. In this case, maybe the paper — or server space — should have been conserved.
I think what I’m saying is that our local mainstream media should stick to a non-partisan stance and focus on providing readers with the full, non-biased story here.
Am I wrong?