Defending my statements

Dear sir:
I thought that I was done writing letters to the editor but apparently not.
I’ve tried to keep this letter short, but was not able to given its nature. I hope you will provide me the space needed to address what I think is a libelous issue.
Being called a liar, in last week’s letter to the editor by the Rainycrest chairman of the board, Dan Onichuk, demands a response.
I am sure the chairman chose his words carefully in writing his letter to you and that he will stand by them—just as I stand by mine. I’ll try to address the points in Mr. Onichuk’s letter.
Concerning the accusation that I have spread “misinformation, half-truths, lies,” I have not created any such thing.
If Chairman Onichuk checked the timing of each of my letters to the editor, he would have noticed each was in response to some action taken by the Rainycrest board which I felt, in my estimation, would negatively impact upon the residents at the home—of which my father is one.
The points raised in those letters can be checked through the same sources I accessed—articles and editorials in the Fort Frances Times, the West End Weekly, Rainycrest staff, residents of Rainycrest and their families, the mayor’s own council (Fort Frances), and other leaders in the community.
Concerning the accusation that my sole purpose in writing letters to the editor was for public grandstanding and to discredit the Rainycrest board and Mr. Onichuk, I didn’t start writing letters to the editor because I had nothing to do or I wanted the attention.
My motivation has entirely been the well-being of my father—and it continues to be.
As far as discrediting the board and Mr. Onichuk, they don’t need my help. They have proven to be quite capable of accomplishing that on their own.
How can a board claim to operate with transparency and then operate in a fashion totally opposite. I am referring to the way in which Extendicare almost took over the management of Rainycrest back in December.
Instead of regularly keeping the public informed about what the board is doing, it has made a conscious effort to hold back information.
This is proven by the fact that as recently as last week, Chairman Onichuk/the board did not divulge who had submitted proposals which had been received by the board and subsequently forwarded on to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.
There would be no harm or compromise of that information if a simple press release had been issued by the board stating who had submitted proposals and that they had been forwarded on to the ministry.
The board even could have stated which proposal had been selected and then forwarded on.
I fail to see why the board chose not to keep the public informed. Some board business—held in-camera—may not have necessarily been handled out of the public eye.
The public wants to know about any developments concerning Rainycrest. They, and especially me, don’t want to meddle. They just want to know what is happening, and whether or not their family members are going to continue being well cared for.
If the Rainycrest board is not going to provide information, then that information is going to come from someplace else. I would think that Rainycrest would be making an extra effort to keep the public informed concerning developments there.
Concerning Mr. Onichuk’s assertion that I did not act professionally in the way in which I gathered information covered in my letters to the editor, I stood up and raised my concerns to the Rainycrest board concerning Extendicare at the meeting late last year.
Their response was taken and reflected on in a letter to the editor I wrote shortly after that meeting.
Obviously Mr. Onichuk is incorrect about me not contacting him or the board by mail. In December, Mr. Onichuk would have had the opportunity to respond to three letters which he would have received from me concerning Extendicare—one which I sent to the Rainycrest board, one to Fort Frances town council, and one which I sent directly to him as mayor.
At no time did I receive any response or acknowledgment to any of those three letters. I didn’t expect one and, frankly, was not disappointed.
As it relates to me telephoning Mr. Onichuk, no I did not. But having watched Mr. Onichuk’s response to questions at the board meeting last year, I did not think there was anything to be gained from a phone call.
For Mr. Onichuk to suggest that addressing the board at one of its regular monthly meetings would provide me with timely information is not logical. The issues which I have felt compelled to write about have required a quick response.
To get onto a board agenda, and then to attend a monthly meeting, would be impractical at best.
People are concerned about the Rainycrest’s future. Why has the board not gotten that message yet? I thought that was made abundantly clear at the board meeting in December. That meeting taught me that I needed to take an active role in keeping informed and to stand up for my father.
As you can tell from this letter, rightly or wrongly, that I continue to assume that the elected officials whom I help put in office (yes, I voted for Mayor Onichuk) will form a cohesive group whose primary interest is for the betterment of their community and constituents.
I assume the management of a facility like Rainycrest are left to do their jobs with oversight by their directors.
I also assume that hearing from the community at large makes for a stronger, more vibrant place in which to live—even if it is just a voice of one.
I will stand by my statement that I do not believe we are being properly represented by some of our elected representatives on the Rainycrest board. There was an effort in December to change the council representatives on the Rainycrest board and it failed.
Perhaps it is time to rethink that point. I don’t think I am alone in that thought.
I’m not sure, but I think that the old saying Mr. Onichuk was quoting in his letter last week goes like this: “To assume makes an . . . out of you and me.”
If being an . . . means listening with big ears and being prepared to kick up a fuss, then I guess being one isn’t so bad. It sure beats being a sheep.
In closing, if Mr. Onichuk’s intentions in writing his letter to the editor were not libelous, then I will be expecting to see a written apology from him in next week’s letters to the editor.
Mark Kowalchuk
Fort Frances, Ont.