I’m ending my self-imposed hiatus as I have some thoughts I need to get off my chest.
It looks to me like Derek Koel has ruffled a few feathers lately with his Port McNeill in Focus opinion pieces.
To me, ruffling feathers is a great thing. Why would you want to work in the journalism industry if you’re too scared to rock the boat? I love creating real and honest discussion about tough issues and I like to think The Gazette provides the local communities with a much needed service by doing so.
Let’s look at Bruce Lloyd’s letter to the editor in last week’s paper as an example of creating discussion.
Bruce’s letter was searing, timely, and above all else, well-written. Kudos to him for putting his name and job title as a councillor for the Village of Port Alice on the line by submitting his thoughts to us. He even took a shot at Port Hardy council for not being fiscally responsible, which made me lol (laugh out loud).
For whatever reason, elected town officials don’t like to respond to things publicly, but it does happen on a rare occasion.
RDMW Chair Andrew Hory tore a strip into me last summer for an article I wrote where I broke down the wages for the RDMW’s elected officials and staff. I took Andrew’s criticism like a man, agreed to disagree, and let him have the last word on the issue. I could have chosen not to run his letters, which is my right as the editor, but that is certainly not ethical behaviour. Andrew, if you ever want to blast me again publicly, feel free to write in anytime.
Another example of this would be when Port Hardy councillors Fred Robertson and Rick Marcotte took issue with a particularly hard-hitting edition of Kervin’s Corner, where Thomas Kervin criticized the district for not doing enough regarding the North Island’s drug crisis.
Thomas didn’t feel the need to respond to their letter to the editor, but I know he appreciated that the two councillors actually took the time out of their busy schedules to address him, which ended up creating some much needed discussion on an issue that still needs serious clarity from the district. With the municipal election coming up, I think we all want to know what the candidates are planning to do about the ongoing drug and alcohol problem that we see daily in the downtown area.
Let’s circle back to Derek Koel for a minute.
When I offered to hire a Port McNeill resident to cover local issues, Derek and Matt Martin were the only people who applied for the position. I barely knew who Derek was back then, and since hiring him we pretty much only speak about Town of Port McNeill business. Here’s an interesting anecdote, I actually offered to pay him to write when he first started, but as far as I know he’s never actually submitted an invoice for his work, so he’s been doing it for free this whole time, which I think says a lot about his character and dedication.
Derek has lived in Port McNeill since 2000 and is a local business owner who gives back to the community by joining committees and advocating politically for groups like the North Island Trail Riders Organization. He also never misses council meetings, which is pretty impressive when you consider the fact that he has a young family waiting at home for him.
If anyone deserves to have a column on local issues going on in and around Port McNeill, it’s Derek. I challenge anyone to write in and argue me on that point.
Feel free to rake Koel over the coals (pun intended) for having opinions and being brave enough to publish them for everyone to see, but keep in mind that he’s doing the residents of Port McNeill a favour by asking hard questions and tracking down the answers as to where Port McNeill’s tax dollars are exactly going.
Anyways, that’s enough from me. This will be the last time you hear from me on the opinion page for awhile. It’s time to go back on “stress leave” and let Thomas Kervin pick up the ball and run with it.