A column billed as satire and posted on the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association (ARA) website has raised concerns for some council candidates mentioned in the piece, and brought forward an apology from the co-owners of the originating website, one of whom is also seeking electiion.
The article, aimed at council hopeful Lyle Caldwell, was originally posted on Oct. 4 on the Abbotsford Today website – which council candidate Vince Dimanno co-owns. It was soon removed from the site, but remained until yesterday (Tuesday) on the website of the ARA. Dimanno says he is currently president of that organization, which lost its status as a society two years ago according to the B.C. Registry Services, as reported in The News last week.
Caldwell’s late wife Christine was a former Abbotsford city councillor and a well-known advocate for the arts who passed away in February of 2013.
The column stated the following: “Running on the old, ‘I’m a nice guy and did you ever meet my wife,’ platform, Caldwell has set himself apart from all other declared candidates by having absolutely nothing of substance to say. Most of the others, to our knowledge, have spouses who are still alive – a clear disadvantage.”
Dimanno said that Mike Archer, co-owner of the Abbotsford Today website, wrote the article but “it was never intended to be published.”
He said his partner has apologized personally to Caldwell. Dimanno is also taking responsibility through an apology posted on the Abbotsford Today website yesterday (Tuesday).
“Abbotsford Today has made a mistake and we’ve apologized for it.”
Dimanno said the article showing up online was human error as they had decided against publication. He said he doesn’t recall seeing it on Abbotsford Today and that it was taken down quickly. But he said that it can still end up in an RSS feed, which is how it was distributed to other sites including that of the ARA.
He said the post on the ARA website was not initially brought to his attention, but when he became aware on Tuesday, the article was taken down.
Dimanno said that the issue is “one more thing that has nothing to do with the election.”
The News contacted Fred Thiessen, president of the AbbotsfordFirst electoral society, a political slate that includes Dimanno and four other council candidates. Thiessen said he had been unaware of the article, and that it has nothing to do with AbbotsfordFirst.
“We have no association with it.”
He said it would concern him if Dimanno had written the article or approved it “but he hasn’t. He had nothing to do with it.”
The article also attributes quotes (in italics below) to current councillors, including Coun. Patricia Ross:
“Interviewed on the announcement of Caldwells’ campaign on the basis of vibration, friendliness, climate and grandchildren, longtime supporter of air and friendliness Patricia Ross said, ‘I’ll be damed if Lyle steals my thunder. Air and friendliness are my topics and I’ll crucify the little p***k if he tries to steal my voters.’
‘Grand children! Who the f*** ever heard of running on grand children as a campaign issue? Hey; I kinda like that. Let’s run on grand children. ’ said Patti, looking around for her campaign advisors.
‘Does he know his wife is already a councillor?’ she asked before being reminded of Lyle’s wife’s untimely passing.”
The News contacted Ross, who had been unaware of the column. She said upon reading it that she was “shocked and appalled.”
“This is not amusing and I do not appreciate my name being used this way because I would never say those things.”
Ross served on council with Christine Caldwell and called the entire article a “low blow.”
“To attack a man who is still grieving, and to make comments about his wife when he is still grieving over her, and think of his children, her children that are going to read that, and the heartbreak it is going to cause.”
Lyle Caldwell told The News that he had noted the column on the Abbotsford Today within an hour or two of it being published online on Oct. 4. He said that although he didn’t want to mention names, at that time he “phoned a couple of people and it was taken down.”
He said he can accept comments about himself as he put his name forward in the election, but was unhappy that there were comments about his late wife. He was unaware the article remained on the ARA site. He said he received a call on Tuesday from Archer, who apologized.