While not particularly hostile, I read the tone of the email as mildly threatening, since “damaging reputation” is usually the basis for a slander or libel argument. I re-read my tweet a few times and, while I didn’t think it met the standard for those accusations, I could see that my question was worded poorly and could be unfairly construed, so I deleted it. To clarify, the question Monckton referred to from my tweet (in the email screenshot above) was quoting the following tweet from Kennedy, urging his opponents to divulge their donor lists.
Tomorrow I will disclose my entire list of donors for the sixth time this election.
— Kennedy Stewart (@kennedystewart) October 8, 2018
Campaign finance transparency has been a theme for Stewart, yet the VDLC slate of municipal candidates to which he belongs, has been benefiting from their campaign support while it isn’t subject to the election financing reform changes brought in by the provincial government about a year ago. Financial support is supposed to be limited to $1200 per donor, which the VDLC does not qualify as, since they are not donating money or doing advertising. Providing labour to promote a slate of candidates seems to fall outside the reforms. As such, there are several media reports of this apparent loophole. From varying perspectives, you can read more here, here and here.
As such, I’ve found Stewart’s many tweets along the lines of the one embedded above, to be a touch sanctimonious and called him out via the question that got the ire of Monckton, and apparently Stewart.
I found Monckton’s email distasteful for another reason. If I feel someone has said something unfair, I’ll just post a comment on their tweet and ask them to address it or discuss. Going to the trouble of looking up my email address and calling me out that way seemed both creepy and, as I said earlier, a bit threatening. I still wanted to press Stewart to address the media reports of the VDLC campaign support not being factored into campaign financing, so I took to Twitter once again, rephrased my question and referred to the media pieces, asking again for a response per the thread embedded below (click to read all 5 tweets).
So, @kennedystewart’s campaign manager, Neil Monckton, didn’t like a tweet yesterday enough to email a removal and apology demand instead of engaging and challenging me on Twitter.
Sorry I wasn’t clearer. Even thought no one engaged with it, I’ve removed it and will clarify.
— James Wanless (@wanzerelli) October 11, 2018
As you can imagine, no one has addressed the core question, but Monckton finally emerged from the shadows and posted a comment at the very end of the thread (left below). I’ve pasted his comment screenshot, should it ever be deleted. At least it confirmed for me that I wasn’t misreading his email tone.So, it would seem this approach is about controlling the message and not actually addressing important campaign issues. As far as I know, neither Monckton nor Stewart has addressed the issue publicly. When I posted it, that’s pretty much where things would have ended for me.
Except there’s more.
While I found Monckton’s approach mildly threatening and a bit creepy, it was nothing like his interaction with another Twitter user. Granted, Mike Jagger seems more conservative than me (as I had been considering voting for Stewart very early on) and is apparently a friend of rival candidate Ken Sim, but he was asking questions of Stewart on Twitter in largely the same vein as I was. Monckton actually phoned his place of business twice with similar demands to the email he sent me. In this case though, when he called him back Jagger recorded the call. You can judge the appropriateness of Monckton’s language, insinuations, and tone for yourself.
When CBC’s Justin McElroy got wind of Jagger’s story, he reached out to Stewart to ask if he condoned the behaviour. Apparently, he does.
I asked Kennedy Stewart if he condoned the way his campaign manager asked a Ken Sim volunteer to remove a tweet.
— Justin McElroy (@j_mcelroy) October 12, 2018
Seriously, I don’t know if this episode will make much difference in the grand scheme of things. It should, no matter where you sit on the political spectrum. As I began paying attention to the candidates in the late spring and into the summer, I was always leaning toward Shauna Sylvester. I was never really comfortable with the VDLC slate from the get-go, as I’ve been subject to union voting suggestions in my job. I don’t for one minute equate union support with corporate support, but the whole thing has left me uncomfortable. To be sure this incident didn’t drive me away from Stewart, as I decided to support Sylvester at least two weeks ago. However, I do support OneCity, whose council candidates are on the VDLC slate with Stewart.
I would have likely left this issue alone after the initial issue with Monckton, but once I saw the very similar experience Mike Jagger had, and the apparent thumbs up Stewart gave to Monckton’s approach, I felt I’d at least write up my own situation so that the odd voter who reads this can consider whether Kennedy Stewart is really worthy of their vote to the top office in the city.
I know he isn’t worthy as far as I’m concerned, and I hope you’ll consider this experience if you haven’t already cast your vote. Keep in mind that, as his campaign manager, Neil Monckton could very well end up as his chief of staff or a top aide in his office, should Kennedy Stewart become mayor.