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LETTER: Residents being 'vilified' for providing facts

Those speaking out about Oro-Medonte council 'are merely trying to keep ratepayers properly informed,' letter writer says
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OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at dave@orilliamatters.com. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article about disinformation in Oro-Medonte, published Sept. 17.
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After reading Greg McGrath-Goudie’s article on Sept. 17 about fake profiles causing real issues in Oro-Medonte, I was surprised that Mayor Harry Hughes claims to be so badly informed about the issue.

Here is what was reported:

“While he said he is unfamiliar with the fake Facebook profiles, Hughes chalked the township’s social media controversies up to a small group of ‘political hobbyists’ who have been actively working to undermine the current council, and he says a number of those people have used ratepayers’ associations, the OrilliaMatters letters-to-the-editor section, or other citizen groups to spread disparaging information.”

The first issue I’d like to address: Was the mayor really unfamiliar with fake Facebook profiles? On Aug. 31, I sent the mayor an open letter by email titled, “A fraudulent Facebook site used to defame community leaders.”

In my letter I reported that I had recently discovered a site called Simcoe Barrie Oro-Medonte Community Matters (and explained that) this private Facebook group posts libellous, false, harassing and hurtful commentary about private and public persons and groups. They have been doing this since their inception on Feb. 5, 2021.

There were numerous and targeted attacks on neighbourhood residents’ groups and two members of council — in particular, vilifying Linda Myles, a past president of the Horseshoe Valley Property Owners Association, and defaming the current councillors, Ian Veitch and Randy Greenlaw.

These are the only two councillors who are being attacked and no others. They both have one thing in common. They do not always follow the majority of council, and offer dissenting views. The councillors being attacked complained to the township more than a year-and-a-half ago, and the mayor has done nothing.

The second issue I would like to address: Is a small group actively working to undermine the current council using ratepayer groups and letters to the editor? The notion of people using ratepayer associations and letters to the editor to spread disparaging information is simply not true.

Thirteen ratepayer associations came together when the township continually failed to enforce existing zoning bylaws. The joint associations represent about 13 per cent of the adult population in Oro-Medonte. They respectfully present factual information that has been very carefully researched and checked.

To suggest that publishing factual material somehow undermines council is just not true. Publishing facts doesn’t undermine council. It is what council does or fails to do that undermines peoples’ trust in council.

The same can be said for the letters to the editor. The authors should not be vilified for speaking up and providing factual information to the public. They are merely trying to keep ratepayers properly informed.

If anyone campaigns at your door and tries to tell you the letters to the editor are “misinformation,” ask them to send you a letter identifying the errors. It is easy to claim misinformation but it needs to be backed up if it is to be believed.

Diana Wells
Oro-Medonte

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