Benefit of the Doubt

Dear editor,

I would like to address the unfortunate trend to criticize our mayor. Is this how we reward decades of service to our community? Too often do we casually dismiss our most seasoned volunteers because of their age. While I’m not disagreeing with the need to have younger councillors, I’m cautioning that perhaps, we should be considerate of the experience and merit our senior council members bring to the table. As Jimi Hendrix once said “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” The people of Fort Frances are unique among other similarly small towns; we understand the importance of a strong work ethic, kindness toward our neighbours and strangers, a sense of community, and our spirit of volunteerism. Is Mayor June Caul infallible? Absolutely not. She is a human being just like the rest of us. As a member of this community, I don’t believe it is beneath us to offer her our patience and compassion. If we punished every well-intentioned mistake with shrewd legal action and defamation, who would bother trying to make our community a stronger and happier place? I’m no legal expert, but is it truly the spirit of the law to persecute a grandmother, beloved retired teacher, and community advocate over missteps while attempting to “exonerate” town employees? Even as we live in uncertain and unprecedented times, Fort Frances has entered a renaissance of change. Many of our public offices rest in the steady hands of competent and educated women. From our Public Works, Library, Town Council, and service groups, the women of Fort Frances have helped navigate our community through the treacherous waters of change. Do we deserve their service if we meet every hiccup with negative criticism, workplace harassment, and petty legal measures? Ms. Caul is our first ever female mayor; are we seriously going to squander this opportunity with infighting and slander? I understand that to some this kind of conduct is acceptable, to as some put it “…hate a few specific families.” As a young homosexual and Métis man, I will be the first to testify against the disgusting social illness that is hatred. I don’t want to believe that anyone in our community would knowingly vote in favour or support this behaviour. Do we still believe in the aforementioned traditional values of our community, or are they too “old fashioned,” like basic human decency? Are we honestly going to turn to fighting one another on social media over the opinion of a loud and proud few? Have we grown tired of angry politicians boasting their prestige and accomplishments? Perhaps with the coming of a new year, the people of Fort Frances will once again reaffirm their faith in our community and those we elect to lead it. Thank you for taking the time to read the letter of a young idealist concerned for his community.

Nolan M. Bowes-Faragher