Opinion: When coffee shop talk does more damage than good

Ponoka’s rumour mill is becoming a scourge of the community

Coffee shop talk in Ponoka is doing more damage than good to our town.

It’s a little too early to tell what Mayor Rick Bonnett’s legacy will be in this community, but I’m sure there will be a chapter somewhere related to all the rumours he’s had to deal with.

The things I have heard, followed up on, and subsequently found to be, well, unfounded, have shocked me, particularly starting in this last election.

Someone either has it in for the mayor, or they just like to talk smack with friends in the coffee shop, watching the rumours ripple out into the community. Like or dislike the man, one thing is for certain, he’s active and trying to do things for this little town, albeit with a bit more verve and less planning than some would like; but it’s something.

Maybe that’s what people are freaked out about. The man’s trying to do something and that’s hit a nerve.

The mayor’s actions — on almost every single step of his terms in the top seat — have been dogged by individuals looking at every minute detail that rivals U.S. President Donald Trump’s first term of office. Couple that with rumours that appear to be stated as outright truth, it’s been an interesting couple years.

Negotiation troubles with the AUPE, the town’s union representative, is a prime example of the damage a rumour can create. In talking with some union folks after the vote, it was mentioned to me that the mayor did the flooring for the new learning centre. It was stated as outright fact. Ponoka News subsequently followed up with a story and the mayor responded, denying the allegations. We’ll never know for sure but that rumour may have had an affect on negotiations.

Coffee shop rumours are juicy pieces of information and talking with a person who appears to be “in the know” is definitely tantalizing but it’s worth mentioning that unless that information can be confirmed, it’s still just a rumour.

The mayor has been forthright with the press on all the questions we have asked of him. If the mayor has something to hide, he’ll get caught. Lies always get found out, but so far the mayor has been on the up-and-up.

Residents have a right to ask questions. It’s part of the democratic process and should be respected. Indeed, a recent letter to the town questioning council’s decision to sell the Kinsmen Community Centre without a public hearing was a helpful reminder to the mayor and council that, regardless of the outcome, the proper steps need to be followed.

Believing in rumours without facts, however, is just plain lazy and irresponsible.

These rumours have a way of becoming truth without any real information to back it up and it’s unnerving. That people would go out of their way to create doubt is a hindrance to the democratic process and speaks of people who want control without being held accountable.

That demand to be heard (as is their right) but without a chance of response (how can you respond when you don’t know who’s starting the discussion) is more akin to the authoritarian regimes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump.

At what point does a person take their dissatisfaction and do something by actually getting involved? Get on a committee, join a club, run for council, run for mayor or help out at the schools, volunteer at day in the park, family day, etc. The list goes on.

There are lots of things that a person can do to bring about change. Sitting in a coffee shop whispering sweet cancerous secrets to others is not how it gets done.

That type of discussion is worth about the same as the disposable coffee cup you just bought, nothing. Let’s change the conversation and consider what we can do to help this community.

Just Posted

Naked man arrested for impaired driving

The man allegedly fled the scene of a collision wearing only a sheet. Plus other Ponoka RCMP briefs

Ponoka Legion commemorates 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

Ponoka residents pack Legion hall during Remembrance Day

Ponoka Secondary Campus alumni provides example of how to remember those who were lost

School’s annual Remembrance Day ceremony focuses on 100th anniversary of WWI armistace

Students at St. Augustine honour fallen Ponoka soldiers

The school’s Remembrance Day ceremony recognized the sacrifices of past soldiers

No pumping into Gull Lake for 5 years due to carp concerns

Worries of carp in the Blindman River has put a hold on pumping water into Gull Lake

First Nation marks ‘milestone’ land deal at Alberta ceremony

Lubicon Lake First Nation Chief Billy-Joe Laboucan signed treaty last month

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

Supreme Court hears case on migrant detainees’ rights to challenge incarceration

Currently, migrants who do not hold Canadian citizenship can only challenge detention through an immigration tribunal or a judicial review.

Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay calls on Ottawa to end strikes

Ebay is calling on the federal government to legislate an end to the Canada Post contract dispute, warning that quick action is needed to ensure retailers don’t lose out on critical Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

No G20 member has climate plan strong enough to meet Paris targets: report

Canada’s push to be a world leader in the fight against climate change may be hampered by its distinction for producing the most greenhouse gas emissions per person among the world’s 20 largest economies.

City of Wetaskiwin didn’t apply utility hikes to bills

Clerical financial error discovered by Wetaskiwin city council

Most Read