A rather thick document — that purports to be a ‘report’ on Mayor Andy Letham — is now circulating amongst some members of the public. The document is clearly professionally produced and is ring-bound, containing approximately 300 pages. It is also accompanied by a 19-page summary ‘report’, which is basically a repeat of any original material in the larger document.
The Lindsay Advocate became aware of this document on Saturday, September 22 from mayoral candidate Peter Weygang. On Sunday, September 23, Advocate Publisher Roderick Benns met with Weygang, who in turn had invited mayoral candidates’ Gord James and Brian Junkin to discuss this for about 30 minutes.
At that time, only Brian Junkin had not been sent a copy. The Lindsay Advocate spent several hours on Sept. 23 reading and analyzing the report, and we arranged a half hour meeting with Mayor Letham to discuss it later that same day.
After a thorough read and analysis of the document by the editorial team, The Lindsay Advocate determined that:
- There was nothing of any substance in this document to report to our readers
- That this report contained only innuendo, disguised as research, and included ‘investigations’ into Letham’s family members
- An inordinate amount of the document is spent on Letham being an investor in the Days Inn (a fact known to voters before he was ever elected mayor). The document also spent dozens of pages investigating The Pie Eyed Monk, and tries to imply that because some of the investors in the Days Inn are also investors in the The Pie Eyed Monk, perhaps Letham is an investor in it as well. The document then uses this sketchy logic to assume malfeasance with respect to planning and approvals from the City favouring The Pie Eyed Monk.
A few facts bear repeating here: 1) Letham has stated that he is not an investor in The Pie Eyed Monk. 2) Letham is one of the minor investors in the Days Inn and this was public knowledge before he ran for mayor. 3) Anyone who was waiting for the The Pie Eyed Monk to open knows that nothing to do with that development was rushed through council without due process.
It’s sad when our politics becomes personal and that approach debases democracy itself. But make no mistake: this is not some ‘dirty politics’ mudslinging: The production and distribution of this document is most likely against the law.
In 2016, there were growing concerns around big money influencing municipal elections and Bill 181 was introduced and subsequently passed. New rules regarding this were introduced in 2018 in the 2018 Guide to Third Party Advertising for municipal elections. This document clearly states that “Third party advertising refers to advertisements or other materials that support, promote or oppose a candidate, or support, promote or oppose a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot. Third party in this context is a person or entity who is not a candidate.”
These new rules allow a municipality to ban corporate and union donations. In the past, Campaign Fairness Ontario found that rich influencers were able to manipulate municipal elections in the past. Any third party advertiser must also clearly reveal who they are; therefore; an anonymous document, professionally produced and distributed, does not comply with these guidelines and exceeds the costs subject to Third Party regulations. A third party must also register as such and to skirt this transparency is quite possibly an illegal manoeuvre to cast doubt on our upcoming election.
Someone — or some company (there are unsubstantiated rumours that this is tied to the commercial development industry) — has decided to breach our election laws and tried to influence our election. This dishonest and timely attack on our democracy was done knowingly with clear intent — to cause confusion and concern around Letham’s credibility and other community partners.
No matter if you are supporting Letham in his bid for re-election or are supporting one of the other three candidates, no one should be supporting illegal (and ethically questionable) election tactics.
Our community — and democracy itself — deserves better than that.