point of view

July 10
Editorial from Chatham Daily News http://www.ChathamDailyNews.ca
Public investigation into issue is warranted

point of view

Chatham-Kent residents are expected to believe everything's suddenly fine and there's no reason for any bad blood between the chairman of the Save Our Sydenham group and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

That's simply not the case.
Just because the alliance parted ways with the spin-doctor firm it had hired to develop a community engagement plan and speak to community leaders -- a firm that tried to dig up dirt on SOS kingpin Jeff Wesley -- doesn't suddenly heal the wound.

The damage occurred when a senior consultant for Veritas Communications Canada, the firm hired for $50,000 by the CKHA, contacted Conservative MP Bev Shipley's office to get the goods on Wesley. Veritas' Karl Baldauf said via e-mail to Shipley's chief of staff Pat Davis that his client was "coming up against some stiff opposition from the Lib candidate that ran in your riding."

Davis, being a friend of Wesley's for more than four decades, forwarded the e-mail to his buddy, with his boss' blessing.

The alliance acted with intelligence and haste in immediately distancing itself from Veritas.

Everyone, from Veritas senior vice-president Bill Walker to members of the alliance's triboard -- at least the ones who don't have gags forcibly stuffed down their throats -- said Baldauf acted on his own and in error.

That's classic damage control from spin city. Deny, deflect, and find a suitable scapegoat -- Baldauf.

It's all a bit too convenient, however.

Alliance officials may not have told Baldauf to contact Shipley's office, but someone nudged him in the dirt-digging direction. Whether it was an outright call to hunt for some useful mud on Wesley or a slanderous remark about the SOS chairman being a pain in the posterior of the CKHA, someone with influence had a chat with Baldauf over Wesley.

There is no reason for the Veritas executive to immediately seek back-door information on Wesley otherwise. Baldauf was tasked with touching base with community leaders. If he received no guidance or direction from the alliance, then it stands to reason the man would have just approached Wesley directly.

A public investigation into this matter is still warranted. The tri-board should initiate this as soon as possible.