Champion openly backs Krantz

Milton Mayor Gord Krantz

Whilst perusing our town’s local fishwrap yesterday, I came across the paper’s editorial column du jour and I have to admit to being a little surprised at what I read.

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?

About the author focuses on absolutely everything interesting related to the town of Milton, Ontario, including news, sports, business, arts, events, culture, transit, politics, photography, real estate, advertising, food, and a whole lot more. Part of the Townhound network, is published by Orbit Studios. Established in June 2007, it has become one of Milton's most popular online sources for information -- a trusted and essential community resource.


  1. csb102 says:

    Agree with your stance on this one. Even though it’s their editorial column, they should leave opinions re: political candidates to the bloggers or sites like this one (although you do a good job of being impartial, which I respect) or risk losing credibility – people will not take the Champion seriously if they know that they just support “the old boys”.

    Well done.

  2. I’ve got news for you – the Champion has endorsed Gord Krantz every election year since I’ve lived here. The Champion *always* endorses candidates, even for federal and provincial races, and they nearly always endorse the more conservative candidate. In fact, all three of the Halton Metroland papers do. The Oakville Beaver just endorsed Mulvale, and in the last Federal race all three ran identical endorsements of Raitt.

    You do have a point though. In a market with only a single paper it’s a pretty questionable practice – although don’t forget the poor little Halton Compass.

    FYI, it’s not just ‘new’ Miltonians who are fed up. There’s a lot of anger and frustration here in Ward 2 as well, especially among seniors who have watched their town transform beneath their feet and whose concerns have been completely ignored in the process.

    I think there are more than a few incumbents who are in for a big surprise.

  3. 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! They provided an excellent service by publishing the mayoral candidates responses to the MRRA questionnaire. They reported factually on the various debates – they should have stopped there!

    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.

  4. Editor says:

    Thanks for your comments so far, folks.

    Jennifer, you’ve lived here longer than me, so your ‘historical’ perspective is appreciated!

    Martin, I agree. Maybe an editorial on voter apathy would have been better served in this case and then if Krantz is re-elected, follow up with the pro-Krantz platform AFTER October 25th.

    Suddenly things are a little clearer for me – thanks again everyone!

  5. Editor says:

    Oh, and my apologies to the Halton Compass… We’re in Ward 6 and no longer receive that publication (for free anyways). We used to reside in what is the current Ward 5 and used to receive it regularly.

  6. Editor says:

    The user ‘freemantrailfamily’ on the Hawthorne Villager forum actually has a nice response as well which you can read here:

  7. Editor says:

    Jennifer, thanks for the insight on the seemingly conservative stance of the Metroland publications. Isn’t Metroland owned by the Toronto Star or Torstar Digital? The Star of course, is roundly criticized as being the left-leaning publication…. Perhaps Metroland figures the ‘burbs are more conservative in their values, so they’ve decided to lean that way…

    Re: Ward 2 voters not necessarily happy with the status quo — great point. I hate to use ‘new’ and ‘old’ when describing things but the point was that ‘new’ residents do outnumber the ‘old’ now, therefore you would think there would be fewer invested in keeping ‘ol Gord in office.

    And thanks for bringing to light the many issues in Ward 2 — the new developments’ concerns have been well-documented but for those in the older wards, there are some very serious issues as well very specific to those areas.

  8. g.c. gamache says:

    The Milton Champion continues to mystify us all. Never any news. Never any in depth coverage. Favours male sports over female. Very, very conservative…… and could use a competing newspaper. IMHO it is simply a conveyance for flyers!

  9. Pat says:

    We question voter apathy but honestly, who picks up the Champion and reads it cover to cover – no one that I know. Apathy seems to be a general state of mind these days, and it leans in no political direction.

    We are all frustrated with roads and construction, but we cannot blame Milton Town Council and the Mayor, because at least one half of all of the roads under construction are and have been Regional roads. And, I don’t see anyone boycotting the new roads but using them and getting places faster and quicker than they have in the past.

    The paper should be non-partison but an editorial is an editorial and should be taken for what it is – a personal opinion. And, isn’t he right in the sense that the only time you see these names around town is during an election year? And, shouldn’t someone sit on council (in the current decade) and learn about the issues facing us today, before thinking himself worthy of the Mayor’s seat?

    The Mayor’s leadership and strength will be tested during the next 4 years as he sets forth to spearhead an inexperienced council, and in turn, learn from them as they learn from him.

    Let’s get behind him and the new council, engage ourselves in the debate, and continue to talk to our friends and neighbours, and teaching our children about the importance of voting and having your say in any election.

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