Mayor Hewitt used your taxpayers' money to control the message - Opinion

by Gary McHale (Caledonia 8) - The Regional

February 8, 2012

While Mayor Hewitt will put on a sad face in public, Haldimand council will be rejoicing over the end of the Regional News. It was Marie Trainer, while she was mayor, who told me that council wanted some way to punish the Regional News for stories they print. In particular, Tony Dalimonte and Lorne Boyko were outraged by negative stories about them in the Regional.

With Hewitt as mayor putting all council advertisement into the Sachem ensured two things - 1) punishment of the Regional and 2) bribing the Sachem. I say bribe because that is the word used by Neil Dring when Merlyn Kinrade confronted him a few months ago about Hewitt's own words in the Sachem, that Hewitt received the special benefit of having a column in the Sachem because of the county's ad space purchase. Dring told Merlyn that Hewitt makes it sound like a bribe.

Council wanted a newspaper that they could control and one that wouldn't risk losing all that paid ad space. The Regional News wouldn't play ball so they looked around to see which newspaper was pro-council and pro-Hewitt then designed a method to ensure that only the Sachem could qualify to win the contract with the County.

The County demanded a special liability insurance that would cover their own ads - why should any media outlet pay extra to cover what the County wanted to put in their ads? They wanted a list of who the Regional donated money to and wanted the Regional to open up their bank account to the County.

The Sachem is NOT owned locally but is owned by Metroland which is a subsidiary of Torstar,  a large corporation that also owns the Hamilton Spectator, the Toronto Star and a string of other newspapers. As such they could easily cover any special insurance policy the County demanded while local businesses would find it too difficult.

What people truly do not know is that Hewitt has been in the back pocket of McGuinty for the past 6 years. Not only did Hewitt have private meetings with McGuinty in early 2006 he also received money from the Ontario government to help promote his group the Caledonia Alliance. In August 2006 Hewitt and I appeared on CHTV and he finally admitted he had met with McGuinty and at times with other Ministers.

In 2003 the media ran a story about how McGuinty had issued an internal memo telling government departments to find people in various communities to use as the means to present the government's message on the issues of the day. When the occupation stated in 2006 you can be assured the government wanted local people to support the OPP and McGuinty. In stepped Ken Hewitt who instantly had direct meetings with Ministers and McGuinty.

When the Class Action was filed it was Ken Hewitt along with the Toronto Star who publicly denounced John Findlay - lawyer for the Class Action. Findlay was forced to sue both Hewitt and the Toronto Star - the case against Hewitt settled out of court. Recently a few businesses have told me it was Hewitt and his friends who went to various businesses and told them not to join the Class Action.

In May 2006 when the residents bused people to Queen's Park it was Hewitt who publicly told people not to attend. The night before the rally Hewitt went to Toronto and met with McGuinty then stayed the night in Toronto. Suddenly the next morning Hewitt became the spokesperson at the rally. Toby Barrett, Tim Hudak and John Tory were all there and the PC party was to pay the $2000 bus fee. The party refused because of Hewitt. Later a resident had to cough up the $2000.

When McGuinty appealed Judge Marshall's court ruling forcing the OPP to remove the occupiers, it was Hewitt who spoke out supporting McGuinty's position. The Alliance wrote a letter to the Attorney General and to the Court of Appeals in which Hewitt stated, "we believe that the occupation needs to come to an end and feel that the best way for this to be achieved is through peaceful negotiation between all parties" which is exactly McGuinty's position.

In Aug. 2006 I publicly exposed Hewitt as someone working for McGuinty. In a press release titled Liberal Linked Plan I named Hewitt as someone actively trying to put McGuinty's plan in place in Caledonia. The plan included turning over certain properties to Six Nations, removing Mayor Trainer, controlling the message to the media and in return the Alliance would be rewarded. The Plan called for Hewitt and the boys to support Lorraine Bergstrand against Trainer in 2006.

It should be noted that this plan was released prior to anyone signing up for the election. A few weeks later Hewitt signed up to run for mayor but dropped out and then Bergstrand entered the race after meeting with Hewitt. Hewitt would later seek the Liberal nomination in the Federal election and Bergstrand would run against Barrett as a Liberal.

The truly telling event about Hewitt's character is from May 2006 when Hewitt was at the local Tims and started telling everyone how he wanted to go down to DCE and rip down the sign that called him a racist. After inciting others to join him, including Randy and Doug Fleming, they raced down to DCE but before they got the sign down the Natives and the OPP swarmed them. As the Flemings looked around they saw Hewitt still sitting in his car while they paid the price of supporting him.

In the last two weeks Hewitt has once again shown his true colours about spinning the message in order to help McGuinty. For the first time Hewitt has called the occupiers the residents of DCE and that the residents of Caledonia need to learn to co-exist with these residents of DCE.  Also, Hewitt is now stating he supports the OPP as a "much needed asset" to the community - not long ago he demanded an inquiry into the failures of the OPP to uphold the law.

One thing is for sure - the Sachem isn't about to print my editorials or hold individual council members accountable so the press is truly now controlled by council. The community pays the price by losing this bright light of freedom.