By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – A petition with more than 200 signatures calling for South Stormont council to rethink a decision to advertise in a new newspaper in the township fell on deaf ears Wednesday night.
South Stormont residents packed the township’s council chambers to find out if $10,600 in advertising would be approved for the new print venture. South Stormont resident Richard Currier made a presentation to council demanding that any funding for the newspaper be reconsidered until it establishes itself as a reliable news outlet.
“I do not understand why council is using our taxpayer dollars,” said Currier. “Would it not be preferable to wait and see what the style of journalism is before committing tax dollars and signing contracts, to see if the community regards it as a viable medium?”
Currier was silenced by South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis when he attempted to offer his opinions on why the township should withhold the advertising money.
At issue are concerns some residents say they have with the operator of the new publication, Jamie Gilcig, a mayoral candidate in Cornwall who has polarized public opinion in the city and surrounding area with his online writing.
Gilcig is also the subject of Cornwall police charges for criminal harassment and uttering death threats – none of which has been proven in court.
After his presentation, Currier handed McGillis the petition to be put on record, but the South Stormont mayor was quick to dismiss the document’s legitimacy.
“This is not in the proper format as a policy we have for the municipality in terms of petitions and also this information is false and misleading,” said McGillis.
Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart attempted to voice her concerns and strong objections to advertising in the new newspaper, but could find no support around the council table to second a motion to that end.
McGillis estimated that the initial figure of $10,600 is now closer to $7,500 since the funding was originally slated for a full year of advertising.
“It’s like any other service that we pay for, if it we don’t like the service we just cancel it,” he said.
Despite the outcry Wednesday McGillis described the new newspaper as a way to expand and diversify the township’s advertising base.
“This is a personality thing and people are against one person,” he said. “We (the township) can’t discriminate. I think he’s proposing a traditional newspaper,
“We’re giving it a chance. If it doesn’t suit council’s needs in terms of advertising we’re not moving forward.”