The Lindsay Advocate – serving the area since 1855

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By Roderick Benns

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Advocate. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, he has written several books including Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World.

The Lindsay Advocate – serving the area since 1855

Sometimes good ideas are merely a continuation of old ideas. What seems like a unique concept may actually be an echo of history, seized upon once again – perhaps at just the right moment.

While reading Looking for Old Victoria County, edited by Rae Fleming and published just last year, I came upon a chapter called The People of the 1861 Great Fire in Lindsay, by Lois Magahay. Under a section about local journalism, it was there that I found an astonishing fact:

Publisher Roderick Benns.

Lindsay’s very first newspaper was called The Lindsay Advocate, first published in 1855 by Edward D. Hand. We certainly had no inkling of this when we created our online and print magazine. With further research in the reference section at the library, I studied a copy of the front page of the only surviving edition of the 163-year-old Lindsay Advocate. Among the various stories reported on at the time was yet another astonishing fact — finding out what the original Advocate stood for:

“As a local paper, our chief efforts will be directed towards furthering the interests of this Town and County and advocating whatever will, in any way, tend to their well-being and improvement…”

Compare this to our modern-day, About Us section online:

The Lindsay Advocate is an online and print news magazine based in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada focused on the social and economic wellness of Kawartha Lakes.

For me – for all of us involved in this enterprise – this is more than a coincidence from history; it is a profound trust from the past that we will sincerely hold.

There are many reasons for the Advocate to have been reborn now. As our nation’s GDP has climbed ever higher, the gap between those wages and their purchasing power has declined steadily.

If you are old enough to remember when a full-time, minimum wage job allowed one to get by comfortably, and now realize that in this same scenario today it could be a description of poverty, then you will understand.

It’s not that Canada hasn’t gotten richer. It certainly has. It’s just that the wealth hasn’t been distributed in an equitable way, thanks to distortions in our poorly designed tax code. Instead, the wealth has settled in the top percentiles, a failure of neoliberal policies. Those same policies also place the interests and health of corporations above people. With reform to our tax code, we could do much more for our society.

The Advocate, its name revived from history’s pages, will continue to work for Kawartha Lakes’ “well-being and improvement” as we move forward.

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