Star public editor: Is Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell playing politics with the truth?
Susan Fennell, who has been mayor of Brampton since 2000 and is now facing a tough race in her bid for re-election, undoubtedly has strong interest in publicly challenging the Toronto Star’s reporting and accusing the reporter who has doggedly held her to account of “bias,” writes public editor Kathy English.
By Kathy English, public editor of The Toronto Star
Is Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell playing politics with the truth?
In the midst of a city council debate last week on the controversial issue of non-compliant municipal contracts, Fennell told council that the Toronto Star’s reporting on that issue was marred by factual errors. As urban affairs reporter San Grewal then reported, Fennell said she would seek correction in the Star.
Shortly after that meeting, I received a lengthy email from the mayor outlining what she believes Grewal got wrong in his reporting on the contracts issue and other stories published in recent months that have reported Fennell’s questionable public expenses, lavish spending and the awarding of $1.1 million in city contracts to one of her close friends.
The next day Fennell sent me another email seeking further corrections. She also posted that email on Facebook and urged her Facebook friends to share it widely. As well, she posted it on her Twitter feed. The email was also posted on a Twitter site called “Brampton Truth.”
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While I do not know who operates Brampton Truth, Fennell tweeted this week: “Follow @BramptonTruths for facts and truth. Re-tweet their posts — spread the truth. Brampton residents deserve the truth.” The Facebook page of Brampton Truth describes it as a page for “Stopping the smears and telling the truth to Brampton citizens.”
Fennell, who has been mayor of Brampton since 2000 and is now facing a tough race in her bid for re-election, undoubtedly has strong interest in publicly challenging the Star’s reporting and accusing the reporter who has doggedly held her to account of “bias.”
To be clear, I have no interest in being part of the political fray here. Fennell is well entitled to defend herself publicly and to seek corrections from the public editor’s office of any facts she believes are inaccurate.
It is my job to investigate her concerns about the Star’s reporting and determine if any corrections are called for. To that end, I have spent considerable time questioning Grewal and his editors and examining all of the evidence they have put forward to verify the Star’s reporting.
We cannot find a single factual error in any of the stories Fennell has questioned.
To continue reading this column, please go thestar.com where it was originally published.
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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.