As they say, if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen, or in my case, if you can't take a little criticism, get out of politics and/or the writing of politics. There's fair criticism, there's constructive criticism, and then there's being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. That's Gerry Barker. Barker is a former journalist who maintains his own blog called Guelph Speaks, but he's also the founder of GrassRoots Guelph, a purportedly non-partisan organization dedicated to getting out the vote no matter who you vote for. Supposedly. Apparently Gerry, unlike every other group no matter their interest in the Royal City, doesn't like the coverage he's got.
In a new missive on his blog, Gerry says the message of GRG (which is really his message despite attempts to separate himself from the organization that's clearly his fiefdom), has permeated the Royal City despite, "a barrage of Farbridge supporters, selling their point of view in print, the Internet, TV and radio." He then went on to list just about every major media outlet in the city, and several of the independent ones including this one, as the ones Farbridge supporters are selling too.* I don't want to tell Gerry how to do the job he retired from, but facts are your friends, and honestly, I get just as many messages from people critical of Farbridge and aligned candidates as I do messages from her supporters, none of which, I may add, was paid for.
*Incidentally, I extended every opportunity to two GRG endorsed council candidates, Andy Van Hellemond and Glen Tolhurst, to participate in the Politico candidate survey, and despite several e-mails and phone calls I never heard back from either or them. But hey, that's another one of those "facts."
Barker then dismissed the collective coverage of Politico, the Citizen, Guelph Mercury, Rogers, CFRU and others by saying, "GRG doesn’t know whether to be flattered or be sent to the showers. Never have so many offered so little to the citizens."** I have a feeling that I should be wounded, but then I remember that my blog is about more than my own thoughts on issues and current events and Gerry's is about
opening his mouth tapping on his keyboard and letting his belly rumble.
**It's worth saying that notably absent from Gerry's recital of "disreputable" media outlets is the Guelph Tribune, in which he/GRG has dumped several hundred dollars in full-colour advertisements for over the last several weeks.
Well, my colleague at the Citizen, Andy Best, had a Samuel L. Jackson-esque "Enough is enough!" moment, and has responded to Gerry, in kind, on that website. You can read the whole piece by following the link, including some nice words about my work, but here is a relevant bit:
Before I became a panellist on their shows, I was a fan. Why? Because of how they’re able to disagree. Despite what Gerry will have you believe, there is a diversity of opinion on these shows and yet the conversations are vibrant, respectful and civil. Because that’s how mature adults do it.
Both Karen Farbridge and Cam Guthrie have appeared as guests of Jan and Oliver numerous times. Why do they both keep coming back? Because when they’re there, they are treated with respect and have ample space to voice their opinions.
Guelph Politico, the Guelph Citizen, the Mercury and Beyond the Ballot Box. These outlets are run by good people who love our city.
Writing them off to score a cheap political point is not only rude, but also sad.
Finally, let’s tackle the biggest fallacy of Gerry’s arguments: that anyone who disagrees with him must be a hardcore, unthinking follower of Mayor Farbridge.
Of course, Gerry Barker has a bit of a beef with Andy because the latter was President of the Guelph Civic League, which Gerry sees akin to the Illuminati in terms of puppet-string pulling in favour of Karen Farbridge. Gerry knows how to hold a grudge, I'll give him that.
The bottom line is that I've received several notices from GRG and written several articles about it, as well as made one video abut their nonpartisan meet-and-greet barbeque event. Not to be terse, but if coverage on Politico, in the Mercury, or by any other media source in the city is mentally and/or physically disgusting to Gerry Barker, then there's an easy remedy: Stop inviting us to your stupid crap! I have tried to be fair and even-handed to GRG and its intentions this election cycle, and it would have been nice if Gerry Barker could say the same. If there's one, sure upside to GRG's slate winning on Monday, its that the persecution complex of Barker and Co might finally be satiated. For a while.