It appears that the Pique may have been ‘had’ by one our submitters. In last week’s Letters to the Editor section someone calling themselves Rene McDain submitted a letter that among other things complained that the new Pemberton Children’s Centre facility was effectively taking money and resources from the Pemberton Meadows daycare at the community centre.
Generally, the Pique tries to verify the authorship of most potentially controversial letters before letting them go to print, but often it’s not possible to verify every letter given deadlines and other circumstances. Since the author of this particular submission was replying to a letter from the previous week’s paper, I believed it was legitimate — not necessarily truthful, accurate, or even fair, but certainly in the ballpark to qualify as free speech.
I was completely mistaken. I was also not aware at the time that this is the second instance that the Pique has received and printed a false letter concerning daycare in Pemberton, likely originating from the same person.
After some investigation at the request of the Pemberton Child Care Society, I’ve discovered that the author of this letter provided us with a fake name, fake phone number and fake street address in Pemberton. Attempts to contact the person through the email address they submitted have also not been answered, but if anyone knows who uses the email address firstname.lastname@example.org we would like to hear from you.
Where it currently stands is that either someone submitted a letter under false pretenses to protect their identity, or produced an entirely fraudulent letter to discredit or slander the Pemberton Children’s Centre.
Either case is unacceptable to Pique. Through our letters section we endeavour to provide our readers with an open forum to air their thoughts and opinions. Some of those opinions may be unpopular or extreme, but as long as the authors are making a fair argument then we try to be democratic when deciding what letters to print. We do not accept anonymous letters as a matter of policy because we feel everyone should have the courage to defend their opinions if they’re voiced in a public forum.
Sadly this is not the first time that we have been deceived by a letter appearing to be genuine, but I am pleased to say that it is rare and unusual for the most part and that most people do respect this forum for public debate.
I accept personal responsibility for allowing this particular letter to run. I can assure you that we’re no less outraged than the people in Pemberton that the forum we provide to the community in good faith was abused. We are equally victims of a fraud.