Rabble rousing stifles conversation

Dear Editor,

I am responding to the letters in last Wednesday’s paper written by Mr. Stewart and responded to by Mr. Judson. For clarity, I am not on Twitter.

I must say, I was impressed with the letter by Mr. Stewart, calling out Mr. Judson regarding his Twitter feed comments where he refers to the people (who after being contacted by your newspaper to submit an opinion on the proposed name change of our street) responded to your request. Anonymity was offered and accepted by many and I believe the reason we selected anonymity is apparent now. This is a sensitive issue and we do not want to upset anyone but we wish to give an opinion (valid or not). Mr. Judson (on his page) was quoted as saying that those who anonymously responded were “mostly white people” and “senior citizens” (and he does not seem to mean either as a compliment) who “trashed” him and made “racist objections”. He also inadvertently called us “rabble” as he defines himself as a “rabble rouser”.

I offer that the comments submitted are a starting point to discussion. It is a forum to bring out issues and resolve them so a positive solution can be reached. I look forward to reading the opinions of the residents of Couchiching and other First Nations as this is another starting place. I believe there are issues on both sides of the table that would benefit from conversation and eventually action.

If anyone is “trashing”, Mr. Judson, I would suggest you look in the mirror. I believe that your remarks are ageist. You were nothing but derogatory to the seniors of this Town. I believe at least 50 per cent of the population of this town is over 50 years of age. How do you propose to “monetize” our “indignation”. Are you not supposed to be representing the residents of this town (including the “seniors” and let’s not forget the “white” ones)?

I always thought folks (even old white ones) were entitled to an opinion without being openly denigrated. If my opinion differed from yours does that make me a racist and full of contempt? I guess we can’t have a conversation; it must be a confrontation. This is NOT how I see reconciliation.

You refer to a beautiful Senior Apartment as “couched between McDonald’s and an OPP station with a view of a Minnesota paper mill.” Totally irrelevant but hope that made you feel better. Let’s run the town down while you have a platform. So much for the Age Friendly approach that the Mayor and Council are working toward.

As a Town Councillor, I believe your behaviour is simply not acceptable. I too do not wish to be represented by a person such as yourself. I believe that as a Councillor your behaviour must at all times be representative of the town and the Council. I do not wish to be represented by a rabble-rouser.

Senator Beyak was reprimanded and removed from the Senate for not removing racist comments from her page. You made ageist comments and you too are refusing to remove them from your Twitter account.

There are so many other ways this “sensitive issue” could have been addressed without causing angst among the residents of this area (I refer to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal). I guess you just like to rabble-rouse. To what purpose, I don’t know.

In your response, Mr. Judson, you again referred to the “undercurrent of ignorance and racism”. You also sought to blame the newspaper for seeking out the opinions of the residents of our street. And you have “No apologies” because you are right and everyone who disagrees with your pushy ways or has an alternate opinion is an old white racist. I repeat, how unfortunate.

I think we would all benefit from listening to the words of Brad Fyfe in his Letter to the Editor where he says “I encourage everyone to be vocal and share their opinions no matter what side of the fence you are on about the name change. But please be good neighbours and keep things respectful and peaceful. Canada is watching. Let’s do the right thing and lead the way in reconciliation.”

I too take reconciliation seriously; but, I do not in any way condone your methods. I would request that you recuse yourself from this sensitive issue as you have clearly taken a position and it certainly does not appear you are open for discussion of any kind. This makes it impossible to have any type of productive conversation with you. You are indeed just rabble-rousing.

Janet Lambert

P.S. I am not a Twitter user, so you don’t have to block me.

Editor’s Note: The Letters to the Editor from Stewart, Judson and Fyfe, referenced above, can all be found in the December 2 edition of the Fort Frances Times. They are all available for viewing on our website at www.fftimes.com.