February 17, 2019
Dear Gabriel Friedman and Geoffrey Morgan,
I am writing to you in response to your article entitled, “Hate mail and vitriol: Divisions run deep over bill that could reshape our natural resources economy” published in the Financial Post on February 14, 2019.
In the interests of full disclosure, I’m a member of Suits and Boots and support their position on Bill C-69.
While I fully support reporting both sides of the topic, I have concerns with the way that Suits and Boots and the Canadian energy sector were represented in your article. For a group of people (journalists) who vehemently endorse free speech rights, it seems that you’re only willing to support them when it’s a message you want to hear.
Why is it that a group of ordinary citizens, such as Suits and Boots, with over 3,500 members, is considered a “fringe group”? I am confident that many of the people who have expressed their concerns with Bill C-69 are educated and well-informed because most of us who work in the energy sector are. We aren’t “fringe”; we have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed for the good of our industry and the country as a whole.
It’s unfortunate that Pierre Gratton, President of the Mining Association of Canada, is frustrated that he has received correspondence in opposition to his views on Bill C-69. If, and that is a big “if”, he received “hate mail” or any messages that attacked his personal character or proposed physical harm, I do not condone that. However, as a public figure with publicly accessible contact information, you don’t get to take the good and leave the bad. Of course someone with an opposing view can “get under the skin”; that’s what brings about discussion, debate and idea-sharing to come up with the best possible solutions to problems. Without disruptors we wouldn’t have innovation.
I also want to address the photo you chose to use in the article of Kevin O’Leary, Rick Peterson and Maxime Bernier laughing at the Conservative Party leadership debate in 2017. You obviously did it with intent, and perhaps not the best of intent. Kevin O’Leary and Maxime Bernier have nothing to do with the content of this article, yet you know they are polarizing conservative figures that invoke a reaction in people. I can only assume you were trying to perpetuate a stereotype in order to influence people’s opinion of Rick Peterson and his organization, one of old, rich, white guys laughing at the perils of “the poor” while counting their millions in their head like “downtrodden people”, such as myself, count sheep to forget our anxiety when trying to fall asleep. The images you use influence perception far more than the words you write. But I’m not telling you something you don’t already know having surely learned it in journalism school; I know I did in my marketing courses.
News used to be about reporting the facts, now it’s mostly opinion pieces. As journalists, you have the opportunity to influence the narrative and discussion on matters big and small. You also have the ability to divide or unite, the choice is yours.