Now for the part of running a blog I love the most, reader interaction. Well, maybe not in this case. Someone named Dick Chapman sent me this brief e-mail this morning. There was no salutation, and no valediction, just a two line splash of cold water that calls into question my capability, my integrity and accuses me of bias all at the same time.
When I receive this e-mail earlier today, I knew I wanted to share it, along with the response I wrote, but I'm not sure why. In the end I think because it's my own valediction to the struggles in this election of getting the Conservative candidate on the record. I've got one more piece in my about Conservatives in general and their relationship to the media, and that will be all I have to say about that.
In the meantime, read as I get raked over the coals and I tried to walk tall in the eyes of Dick Chapman.
E-mail From Dick Chapman
You are neither jounalist [sic] nor a writer with any honour! You are just a Toronto Star mouthpeice who doesn't know what he is talking about!
Marty has more integrety [sic] and experience than you will ever have! This is from one who has traveled the world and written and published a book and who knows what a good man is!
First of all, just let me say, "Ouch." Second of all, thanks for reading. ;-)
But kidding aside, I do take exception to being characterized as without honour, or that I'm a "mouthpiece" for anyone but myself. I appreciate and recognize Marty Burke's service to Canada, and I do believe he is a man of integrity. I have a great deal of admiration for anyone that puts their name forward to run for government office, for it's an all-consuming pursuit with an unyielding spotlight. Anyone that puts their name on a ballot deserves respect, and I believe I've advocated that point many times on my blog and in my Echo Column.
The problem is that I've not been shown the same respect in return by Mr. Burke's campaign. (Notice I said "campaign" and not put blame on Mr. Burke himself, since I've actually never talked to him personally.) I e-mailed his campaign, phoned his office every day for a week, and made a person visit there, and not a single person showed me the common courtesy of either a returned phone call or an e-mail.
Regardless of your opinion of me as a journalist, the fact of the matter is that the campaigns of Frank Valeriote, Bobbi Stewart, John Lawson, Drew Garvie, Karen Levenson, and Kornelis Klevering have treated my as such. They have made themselves open and available to me (and by proxy, my readers) to their thoughts, their ideas, their opinions, and their persons. Whatever my own political ideology, I have been able to engage with them, and I am appreciative.
My criticisms of Marty Burke stem from that position. I do not know him personally, and to my knowledge I have made no personality-based disparagement about him. My writing on Mr. Burke has happened in a vacuum, because the candidate himself has been unavailable. I hope as a writer yourself, you might appreciate the difficulty in giving readers a complete picture when you can't tell one part of the story for whatever reason.
I was profoundly disappointed by the silence from Mr. Burke's campaign. Never have I encountered this kind of wall of resistance in any of the five elections I've covered as a member of the media. The Marty Burke you know may be a gracious man of character and integrity, but from my point of view, the campaign that's been conducted on his behalf has left much to be desired.
Thank you for writing,