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The 6:00 practice, and when politicians just make it up

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One of the beefs I have with the media is that too often they allow politicians who aren’t being honest off the hook.

The problem with this is two-fold. First, it allows inaccurate information to get out into the public realm, and second, with no repercussions, there is little deterrent for politicians to watch what they say.

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The most recent case in point is Fredericton City Councillor John MacDermid.  He’s a little put out that this week, his fellow councilors awarded a tender for repairs to the York Arena. I’m not sure what the vote was, but the majority voted yea and he voted nay.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but in talking to the media afterwards, he said he was against repairing the arena because the city doesn’t need another ice surface. He said there is only demand because people only want ice in prime time hours. Then he said, and here’s the exact quote “There was a time when people would get up at 6:30 in the morning and take their children to hockey. That just doesn’t happen any more.”

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As a dad who got up many a morning, not at 6:30 but earlier in that, in order to have my kids on the ice by 6:00, that comment took me by surprise. Do parents really not do that anymore?

It didn’t take long to find out that yes, they sure do. 

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This morning, for example, the Booster Juice Capitals had a 6:00 AM practice at the Grant Harvey Centre and at the same time Swiftys Capitals were on the ice at Willie O’Ree. Tomorrow at 6:00 AM, the Peewee Furies are on the ice at Willie O’Ree while the Atom Furies are on the other Willie O’Ree ice surface, and Colpitt’s Canucks are practicing at Grant Harvey, and it too, is at 6:00.

How much digging did it take for me to find this out? About 15 seconds. I googled FYHA and clicked on ice schedules. Councillor MacDermid could have done that, or maybe he did but wasn’t going to let an inconvenient truth get in the way of his narrative.

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Point being, when Councillor MacDermid made that comment, he wasn’t speaking from any kind of knowledge; he just made it up, and presented it as fact. It is a disservice to all those parents out there who do get up at 5:30 in the morning to take their children to hockey.

It’s one thing to be against a city decision. But councillors, and for that matter any politician, should not resort to fiction to support their point of view. And when they do, the media has a responsibility to call them on it.  Maybe if this happened more often, politicians would be more careful, and that would serve all of us.

I don’t mean to pick on this particular councillor. It’s not as if he’s the first or will be the last to play fast and loose with the facts, but he is the latest. 

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”

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