Glad to know the contretemps between Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson and citizen journalist Joey Coleman is history, following an apology by councillor Ferguson. I’m not surprised at councillor Ferguson’s apology. I know him to be a gentleman and a thoughtful individual. Mr. Coleman, who I don’t know personally, also appears to be a rational man by accepting councillor Ferguson’s regrets. Like most media in Hamilton in 1991, I was all over the so-called “Brawl at City Hall”, when then councillors Tom Murray and Dave Wilson mixed it up verbally behind city hall. The fracas, saw no jabs, hooks, or uppercuts fired by the antagonists, yet then Mayor Bob Morrow took an elbow from councillor Dominic Agostino, while Dominic stepped between Murray and Wilson.
At least that’s how I remember the story, mostly. Have there been additional potential dust-ups at the Hall? I can only guess at that one, but my guess would be, probably so. It’s not a bad thing when passion enters the political arena. Canada’s most quoted contemporary Prime Minister issued his infamous “fuddle duddle” in parliament, where the odd invitation to ‘take it outside’ has also been delivered and duly and happily reported. For media these are freebie stories and frankly we love them. A question I’m asked at times like the Lloyd Ferguson, Joey Coleman moment is invariably, “has anyone ever thrown a punch in your studio, Roy”? The short answer? Not really. Harsh words followed by the waving of an arm in the vague direction of a philosophical opponent is usually as far as it goes. However, there was one particular program during which I thought I’d either have to step in and break it up, or do a punch-bypunch commentary.
I won’t mention the individuals by name here, but will say one was a local politician, the other provincial. The municipal representative took exception at what he considered an assault on his character and invited the provincial member to apologize, or settle things. They know who they are and if you heard that show, I suspect you’ll remember it and them. Rather than let it get to fisticuffs, and it would have been difficult for me to intervene physically immediately because the guests were sitting much closer to each other than I was to them, plus I was semi-tethered by my headset, I called for a commercial break. Off air it went something like this. “Guys (and one of them was standing now, confronting the other who remained seated and looking straight ahead), we have about three minutes to straighten this out”. Then, as memory serves, I suggested they consider the lasting impression any continuation or escalation of the situation would leave with listeners. I recall a sort-of truce being declared and the debate/exchange resumed for another uneasy 20 minutes.
Neither of these individuals would normally be considered aggressive in my view, but both were engaged in discussion/debate concerning an issue which created passion and polarized views. What’s always been most interesting is when I’ve asked people whether I should have let the situation escalate and perhaps result in punches being exchanged, or whether my taking the unscheduled break was the better course of action, invariably the view has been, “you should have let them go at it.” You think?
By Roy Green