Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

OPINION: Bradleygate bringing out the ugly side of Sarnia

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

Cindy Scholten stood outside Sarnia City Hall last Friday amidst a crowd of some 300 people, holding a pink sign she’d just made at the dollar store.

The group, who had gathered for a peaceful rally to support Mike Bradley in the wake of a scathing workplace harassment report, began booing and heckling the first-time councillor, who’s been pegged as one of a handful of council members “on a witch hunt” to bring down the longtime mayor.

Scholten stood as part of the crowd broke off to surround her, shouting and calling her names.

Her sign read: “Say no to bullying.”

“Crocodile tears,” one woman yelled at the visibly upset Scholten. “Go home and have a cry!”

Another woman called her a bitch.

“You don’t need to show your face!” Another man added.

“You ain’t got the parts!”

It was all captured on video — which by the next morning had already surpassed 9,500 views.

Sarnia Police said they were investigating an alleged assault. It was like a scene from a Trump rally. Sarnia at its ugliest.

I am not a fan of some of Scholten’s political tactics and have been critical of her on social media. In return, she’s taken her fair share of shots at the media. One could argue that she shouldn’t have engaged the crowd in the first place (and the online ‘experts’ already are — calling her an “attention seeker.”)

But as I watched that disturbing video last Friday, my stomach churned and my eyes swelled.

I imagined someone saying those things to my daughter — or worse — my son saying those things to a woman.

No one deserves that.

I should note that not everyone at the rallying was spewing hate at the councillor.

A few stood by Scholten to protect her from the hecklers – including one man who shouted about her children, and spewed the phrase “Lipstick on a pig.”

My colleague Glenn Ogilvie, while shooting the event, found himself in the middle of the mess, telling that man, “That’s enough. You’ve pushed it too far.”

The ugly scene that developed was not the intention of organizers, or Coun. Dave Boushy who was on hand to speak to the crowd. And Mayor Bradley, regardless of what you think of him right now, certainly doesn’t want Sarnia looking like this.

That same day a female newspaper reporter who’s been covering the ongoing situation at City Hall was on the receiving end of a public tweet from an anonymous user, accusing her of biased reporting, suggesting she perform a sexual act for an exclusive interview with the mayor.

Last week, that same user called a female radio reporter an idiot, “not a journalist” and suggested she “Shut the f*** up.”

Local reporters are doing their best to cover a sensitive and complicated situation as fairly and accurately as possible, but as soon as someone reads something they don’t agree with they “blame the media” again.

The only thing most people can agree on right now is that this has brought out the ugliest in Sarnia — from cowardly anonymous trolls to hateful bigotry on the steps of municipal government.

This is bigger than the mayor. It’s more than a ‘witch hunt.’ This is about a culture of hate and ignorance that’s just going to breed more hate and ignorance.

Sarnia is making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and as this latest video makes the rounds, it’s only going to get worse.







More like this