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How ‘Word on the Street’ works

Steve Campbell

This is what I call a ‘clean-up” column.
While I’m waiting for Council to do something foolish I can ridicule, I tend to move to more general stuff, like the steamroller of bureaucracy, and whether Dalton is the genuine Anti-Christ, or just a run-of-the-mill demon.
Everybody’s watching Council as they forge their way through restructuring and job-cutting. Still, there’s not much to say, until the results show themselves. The Council is desperate for a plan, as we all are, to bring the County back to its Glory Days. But only time will tell if this is ‘The Plan’.
Fortunately, thanks to highly-trained financial people, I’m sure that, on paper, the whole restructuring deal will look like a Big Lottery win for everyone, and there will be talk of a bronze statue of Merlin Dewing to stand beside the pending one of Sir John A.
In the meantime: I get a lot of feedback on my columns, and so far 100% of my readers totally agree with me. Ha! Just kidding. You can’t get 100% of the people to agree on pizza toppings!
So I’d like to clear up a couple of things. First, I believe that Canada and Ontario are the greatest places on earth to live. It just bugs me that we could be way better than we are, with only a little bit of work.
Clearly, I do not like Dalton’s non-stop legislation, which desensitizes us as a society, and turns formerly simple activities into major costly productions.
Sadly, McGuinty’s competition has jelly in the knees, and hopes that great campaign slogans like “Time for a Change!” will win the day, instead of genuine party platforms which address real issues.
Steadily declining voting percentages back my belief that more and more people believe the System is broken, and the rest flip a coin to choose the Devil or the Deep Blue Sea.
I remember when David Peterson finally toppled the Big Blue Machine in Ontario. Within weeks, I said: “My God, it’s been replaced by the Big Red Machine!”
And so it goes. The traditional parties are at a loss to find good leaders. That’s because they are completely out of tune with the actual JOB that needs to be done, and focus on leaders who might stand a chance of getting elected.
So you end up with a Tim Hudak, or a Stephan Dion, who are so innocuous and inoffensive they are the human equivalent of political pudding.
Are you surprised they don’t win votes, other than through the card-carrying party members who chose them? Shake your head, back-room boys, it’s because they’re not Leaders! For God’s sake, find one, because we’re in desperate need of someone who can help rebuild Ontario, rather than trumpet their personal legislative ‘busy-work’ as ‘progress’.
Right-wingers and left-wingers still go at it in old-style Gladiator Arena fashion, blaming each other for all the ills of the country. Fact is, it’s the parties themselves that are ruining governments across the land.
In that way, I agree with Hudak’s lame “Time for a Change” slogan. But the Change I would like to see? Stop the backroom boys, lobby groups and money interests from choosing their leaders by homogenizing and neutering them.
Instead of thinking: “How do we win?” – they should be thinking: “How do we find the Best Premier Ontario has ever had? Someone who can get downsized Ontarians back to work, instead of lauding the success of the province’s social programs.” Hmmm, just a thought, but how about returning to the manufacturing model that built this province?
On to my second point. On countylive.ca, a lot of people check in to make comments. They have ‘web names’, so I don’t know who they are. That’s okay, because I don’t intend to drive to people’s houses and explain to them what I actually meant.
But one writer has disparaged me for not ‘naming names’ and citing the details of specific cases I use in my columns. He/she says this makes these cases nothing more than rumour and innuendo.
So I should explain.
The concept of Word on the Street is to listen to the many and varied problems that people encounter. Some of them are outrageous, but we live in a world where outrageous things do happen. Often I can do a quick check through one of my sources to see if the story has validity. In some cases, especially those that involve money expenditures, the stories collapse.
For example, a horrifying $40,000 cost on a County work project, turned out to be inflated by at least $25,000.
In other cases, I can determine that the stories are true, or at least mostly true. Like the story in my last column, sometimes I will do several hours of interviews to verify the facts. To me, it’s not who it happened to, it’s why.
It is not my intent to identify these people, and possibly open them up to further victimization. I also am very careful about the identity of the possible offender, as I have no interest in chastizing them.
So what you get is a series of stories, as told to me, in typical Word on the Street fashion, and presented to you in the context of the larger point, which is clearly mine. And I hope it offers Food for Thought.
I am no longer a news reporter, I am a column writer. And my aim is to offer material for thought and consideration. And, often, to bring subjects into the open air for discussion.
When I was a news reporter, people would often say: “Why don’t you do stories on what people are REALLY doing in the County? Like people who are having affairs and stuff like that.”
Everybody wants it. Everybody loves it. Until it’s your name in print … then it’s the worst thing in the world.
So I would say: “Great! I’ll start with you, and follow you around for a couple of days. Didn’t I see you coming out of the Royal Hotel last week?” Not so much fun now is it?
So if you discard what I write as simply rumour, you are missing the main points. I am not a court of law; I’m an observer.
A lot of people can identify with the points I make. But if you want names, read the phone book.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. wevil says:

    Steve your articles to me are well written you do a good job thinkingf out what you have to say to bad our polititians didn’t take some lessons from you.maybe they could govern a little better even our local ones who seem to have their heads in the sand

  2. wilson says:

    Here Here – tell it like it is.

  3. fed up says:

    Thank you for taking time to notice my comments.
    Here’s some more.

    I have to ask, what glory days? Barley days?

    btw, I think you mean the political equivalent of human pudding…?

    Also, many of your readers do not seem to know the difference between a columnist’s opinion and reportage—that is the problem. Not your problem, of course–but a very real one.

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