Enough is enough – Morris, MB

An open letter to Gordon Sinclair:

Thanks for the article Gordon. Appreciate you stepping up here. Maybe I can share why there is a siege mentality in our community:

– A wingnut paper publisher does something stupid. The entire Town is accused of racism and makes the national news, even though this was one idiot’s opinion, and he himself had only been a resident for two years

– The community is accused of homophobia when a restaurant fails, even though this is the fourth restaurant to fail in four years in the same space. As part of the coverage, the WFP interviews local citizens, and publishes the opinions of an elderly senile gentleman, and someone who has lived on a Hutterite colony almost all of their life. Of course, the people who had no issue weren’t published. Oh yeah, let’s also quote George out of context.

– Even when the restaurant “turns around”, the owners decide to leave. If the community has shown visible support for the restaurant, and an intolerance for homophobia, then why are you closing?

– Now we have another with the fifth failure in the same location in five years. Now it’s racism. I have yet to see any facts (remember when journalists used to go looking for those) showing any member of the community acted racist towards Thea. But yet again, we now make the national news despite:
a) Facts indicating the high rent/small seating capacity/specialty cuisine model is not working in this location or this size of community
b) Other ethnic business owners thriving in the community, and stating they have not experienced racism
c) Other visible minority citizens making public statements through Facebook how much they enjoy our community. See WFP, this is what a fact looks like.

– Nothing like sensationalizing headlines as well…..”Restaurant Owner Flees Morris”…..seriously? Maybe talk to the RCMP too about reported hate crimes and crime overall in the community. I’ve see the crime reports quarterly, and cannot think of any place where I’d rather raise my family.

– Hey let’s criticise the Mayor for doing his job too. His job is to represent the community, not placate the WFP.

Mr. Sinclair, imagine I was working with you and accused you of sexually harassing me. The WFP then comes in, does no research, publishes a headline like “Journalist Flees Sexual Advances of Gordon Sinclair”, then you make the national news for something that is allegation. I’ll then do this three times, and each time the WFP will go after you like a terrier on a rat. Think you might have a siege mentality then?

My word, be a journalist for a change. Interview those who are of a visible ethnic minority who live in Morris, and ask them about racism. Ask them how Morris compares to other places they’ve lived – I’m pretty sure I know the answer, as I’ve seen nothing in Morris to equal the racism and homophobia I saw growing up in Winnipeg. Maybe talk to a restauranteur, show them the seating capacity, give them the rent and utility bills, and ask them how they could make this space work. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t. Maybe throw on that the average plate prep time is 1hr, and limit their menu to specialty cuisine. I’m a professional finance person, and I can’t make the math work.

So, I think we’re pretty justified in having a siege mentality, 100% created by an sensationalist media. Equally unfortunate how far the journalistic standards of the WFP have fallen, where selling papers and getting web hits are more important than facts or the truth.

This isn’t a siege mentality. It’s fighting back against character assassination.

Have a nice day,

Scott Crick
Town Councillor
Morris, MB

For anyone reading this, please share this post. Maybe Mr. Sinclair might actually read it. If you subscribe to the Winnipeg Free Press, maybe make a few calls and let their advertisers know how you feel about their coverage of this (and previous) stories, and how you feel about their business if they continue to support the WFP. If you have friends in other rural communities, warn them they could be next, and ask them if they would continue to buy or support the WFP if they did the same to them.

I am personally tired of lazy, irresponsible, and sensationalistic journalism. However, they will not stop until stood up to. It is time to stand up.

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13 thoughts on “Enough is enough – Morris, MB

  1. Although I may not 100% agree with the Pots and Hands issue, this is amazing. I think you did more research on writing this 1page letter than WFP has in… Ever. I wrote almost almost the same same thing, (not as as well written as this) to the email given under the article when it first came out. Saying next time before you bash a town talk to more than 1 person. I walked out of Thea’s as the price was to high, same I’ll never order Santa Lucia (sp) pizza as paid $50 for two pizzas so I guess I hate people of colour and different nationalities is what also wrote in the email. Again great letter, will post and share everyday so it gets seen.

  2. Retired 8 years ago, had worked in Morris for 15 years, and remember that restaurant having issues then, do not believe for one minute that the issues faced by the last two managers of that restaurant is race related,…I agree with Mr. Crick, the wfp should of done their homework, I live in neighboring community

  3. Your letter is very well written and I hope will not fall on deaf ears. Everyone has to take the WFP with a grain of salt and if anyone wants to believe a story, they have the responsibility to verify the facts these days on their own. Too many stories brush reality with something more than the truth. I was told by a journalist there years ago that even though they knew the facts were untrue, they were secondary to the real story and made it better. We can all hope one day that fact will out weigh fiction. I know a lot of great people from Morris.

  4. @ Scott – Are you suggesting that Thea Morris and Dave Claringbould are not being truthful about experiencing racism and homophobia in Morris?

    • Hi Will,

      If you think I’m suggesting this then you need to reread my letter to Mr. Sinclair.

      The intent of my post is not to rehash what has already been reported. It is to discuss the actions of the media, and they way in which they have misrepresented the citizens of Morris. It was also to provide additional information that shows there is more to the issue than the media shared.

      What both restaurant owners state has happened to them is clearly covered in places other than my blog.

      Scott

      • Hi Will,

        I don’t think anything has been hidden away, and I have no issues with the discussion of race, sexual orientation, and the prejudice this engenders in a changing society.

        The reason for my letter is not that these issues could have or did contribute to the failure of two businesses. My issue is the sensationalizing of the this by the WFP, leading to national coverage, and the tarring of a whole community. And this has continued again with Mr. Sinclair.

        As per the headline “Restaurant Owner Flees Morris”, this suggests a torch-burning mob running someone out of town in a frenzy of racist hate. Nothing can be further from the truth.

        The worst part is that due to the unilateral actions of a controversial newspaper publisher (who published his own editorials for his own personally owned newspaper – NOT a community newspaper), we were already flagged as a “racist” community, despite the fact that the local citizenry and business drove this individual out of town.

        When your advertisers withdraw their ads due to a racist editorial, and local citizens send letters and make calls to local businesses stating they will not support them if they continue to support the newspaper, it sends a pretty strong message that racism is not supported here.

        This strikes me as the opposite of what a “racist” community would do. This incident effectively signaled the end of the “Morris Mirror”, and its publisher left town, never to be seen again.

        So if the media is lazy, it is easy for them to just throw out TMZ-worthy headlines explaining that the restauranteur is just another check mark in the list of acts of intolerant Morris citizens, despite the facts (yes, facts) that:
        – Nothing has been shown that a citizen of Morris has or has ever committed a racist act against Thea
        – Equating other acts such as leaving a diner with racism is a tenuous link at best.

        I mean, if someone is going to a Jamaican Diner, they would expect their food to be cooked by someone of Jamaican decent, correct?

        It was stated that business was good at first, but declined over time. Again, I do not think this was a racial issue, but one of service/food/price. In a rural community, any restaurant is busiest when first opened. People are eager to try new food, and enjoy the variety of new restaurants.

        However, you do only get one chance to make a first impression, and if people do not like the food/service/price combo, then people will not come back. And this has nothing to do with race.

        With a population of 1,800, explain how many people (especially those raised on a blander palette) will eat Jamaican food multiple times a week? Unfortunately, this is required for a restaurant to succeed in a community this size.

        Did Thea experience racist behaviour via e-mail? Certainly. Can anyone unequivocally state this was someone from Morris? No. So there is no hiding of the facts…what I object to is the lazy journalist approach to equate Thea’s lack of business to racism.

        As I mentioned in my letter to Mr. Sinclair, I have seen nothing of the level of racism and homophobia in Morris that I saw growing up in Winnipeg. In a community this size, you are not anonymous. People know who you are, and you must conduct yourself accordingly. This is nothing like the anonymous, abject hatred I saw towards East Indians, First Nations, Asians, and homosexuals in Winnipeg. Being someone who the target of your hate will never see again is disappointingly empowering for the lowest common denominator in our society.

        So Will, I am glad the issues are being discussed. However, I am disappointed that this is being done at the expense of an entire community and its citizens and businesses, when I know that if anything, racism and homophobia are less in Morris than anywhere else I have lived.

        You just wouldn’t know that from following the media.

        Scott

      • Hi Scott,

        I grew up in the RM and I would say the portrayal of the town in the two articles is fairly consistent with my own perception of Morris. I come back to visit family every two years or so. When I do come home I spend some time in the coffee shops in town and am always saddened by the anti-gay remarks and racial slurs I hear.

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