Rather than bore my blog readers with another rant about my riding's NDP candidate Gord Perks -- (his Enviro column was back in Eye yesterday, and it cited my favourite technophobe, Neil Postman!) -- I decided to write him an e-mail with my complaints. I was pleased to get a quick response back:
I understand your concern as I shared it myself. After discussions with both my editor and our lawyer, however, I was convinced that it was appropriate to continue writing and publishing during the campaign.Well, what do you think? The Star's Antonia Zerbisias, The Globe and Mail's Dan Cook and I all agree that Perks should have stopped his Eye column during the campaign. I know what he's doing is legal, but is it ethical? And am I making too big a deal out of this?
I am not a news reporter but a columnist. Bob Hunter, John Sewell and Michael Valpy all continued to write and publish columns during their campaigns. As well, I am, as you noted, open about the fact that I am campaigning and have repeatedly declared my bias.
I guess my bigger beef is with Eye -- why would they pay an individual candidate to campaign in their pages?
UPDATE: I am reliably informed that, in fact, Michael Valpy went on an unpaid leave of absence from The Globe and Mail the moment he declared he was seeking the nomination for Trinity-Spadina and that his leave of absence continued, unpaid, until after election day. There is a difference, however, insofar as Valpy was a staff reporter at the Globe, while Perks is a freelance columnist.
Does anyone have any information on the John Sewell and Bob Hunter precedents Perks cites?
Click on comments below to read Ian King and Paul Wells' opinion on the subject.
FURTHER UPDATE: For my fellow Davenport residents who have arrived at this blog, I would like to note that this is really a rather esoteric discussion about journalistic ethics -- and there are ethical journalists who disagree with my position. I had a fine chat with a couple of members of the Gord Perks campaign team (who also turned out to be my neighbours) and there are many good reasons to vote for Perks, not least of course is that is he not a Liberal.
I jest. Some of my best friends vote Liberal. Some are even card-carrying ones.
In any case, why not head down to one of the two remaining all-candidates debates and discover the positions of Gord Perks (NDP), Mario Silva (Liberal), Theresa Rodrigues (Conservative), and Mark O'Brien (Green) for yourself? I do believe that you should consider the individual, not just the party when you cast your vote.
Monday, January 16, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm - Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre (1900 Davenport Rd.)If I get out of work in time, I'll be at the Tuesday debate, as I am still undecided.
Tuesday, January 17, from 7:00 to 10:00 pm - J. Piccininni Community Recreation Centre (1369 St. Clair Ave. W)