The first thing you need to know is that I didn't want to be
in this place – my Member of Parliament's office – following up on my earlier
correspondence. I had hoped that the entire situation would be resolved
quietly, behind-the-scenes, in a non-public way. And, given the choice between
having this particular discussion in this particular location and being any
place else on earth – well, you can guess where I wanted to be.
It all began well enough. Sandra Brownlie, Constituency Assistant,
ushered me into the board room at the constituency office and began to review the
materials I had brought with me.
Almost immediately, it became obvious to me
that this was the first Brownlie had heard of the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Fan
Group and the libelous allegations posted in the news area of the group. She
gasped out loud as she read the allegations in the news section. Clearly, she
had not received the email that I had sent to her attention via the general
contact account on the Dean Del Mastro constituency website.
It was also clear that she didn't want to end up being
caught between a rock (the fact that the two of us belong to the same community
organization) and a hard place (getting any heat from her employer). When the purpose of my visit became
obvious – I wanted to ask Dean Del Mastro to intervene on my behalf to have the libelous
statements removed from the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro fan group – she left the
room to consult with someone else.
A few moments later, I was ushered into a backroom office
and introduced to Alan Wilson. (Neither Brownlie nor
Wilson provided his job title, but Wilson has been described as both Senior
Advisor and Special Advisor in various media resports.) Brownlie exited shortly
after introducing me to Wilson.
Wilson started out by asking me why I considered the
comments on the We Love Dean Del Mastro Facebook Fan Group to be libelous.
Because they are untrue and because they are in writing, I replied.
At that point, Wilson took the conversation in an entirely
different direction. "You've done a lot of writing against Dean, haven't
you?" he stated (a reference to the fact that that One Woman. One Blog.
has often critiqued the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) and
more locally, its Member of Parliament in Peterborough Riding, Dean Del
Wilson asked why I had brought my issue to Del Mastro's
constituency office. I told him I had done so because I didn't think it
reflected well on Del Mastro to have libelous and untrue statements about a
constituent posted on a fan group that had been created in Del Mastro's honour.
Wilson stated that he disagreed. Then he proceeded to launch into a series of rapid-fire
questions that left me feeling like I was a guest on Fox News or a character in
a Kafka novel.
Why do you attack Dean as much
as you do? ("I don't attack him
personally. I attack the CPC.") What do you know about him as a
politician? ("That he is a member of
the CPC.") You called him fatso. ("I never did. I never took
out a kiiji ad. That's why I'm saying it is libelous and inflammatory.") Did
you call him fatso? ("Never.") Did
you call him a goof? ("Never.")
After a few minutes of this, the conversation got back on
track. Wilson stated that he didn't know what to do about the group because
"we don't know who [Douglas O'Driscoll, the group administrator: see footnote below] is. And I don't think Dean knows who he is
either." I pointed out that Del Mastro family members belonged to the
group (Dean Del Mastro's brother Doug was the first person to join the group)
and that it shouldn't be difficult for Dean Del Mastro to make contact with the
group's administrator, should he choose to go that route.
"Why would he do that?" Wilson asked.
I stated once again that I thought it reflected poorly on
Del Mastro to allow the comments to stand.
"I beg to differ," Wilson stated. "I don't
think his reputation is affected." He added that there are a lot of things
that do reflect poorly on Del Mastro (referring to various unflattering comments
that have been made about Del Mastro online).
"So I will advise Dean of this," Wilson stated as
our conversation was winding down. "I will advise him to stay out of
[I can't help but wonder if Wilson would make the same recommendation
to Del Mastro if the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Group featured negative comments
about the Harper government, a campaign contributor, or one of the MP's projects or causes. It might be more problematic to let those types of comments
The conversation continued with Wilson offering me some
advice. Wilson told me that if I thought that the material written about me was
libelous, I should find out who this person is and sue them. I responded by pointing out that there didn't appear to be a real person named Douglas O'Driscoll living in Peterborough Riding. [Earlier, I had conducted a search of Canada 411 and
found only one Douglas O'Driscoll in all of Canada. There weren't any D.
O'Driscolls in Peterborough Riding or area code 705. If there is a Douglas
O'Driscoll who truly LOVES Dean Del Mastro, he
certainly wants to keep a low profile.]
"That's one of the great dangers about Facebook, isn't
it?" Wilson responded.
"It is, for sure. People can do irresponsible
things," I replied.
"A lot like bloggers," Wilson said.
It was clear to me that Wilson had a bone to pick with bloggers; and that he was angry with me in particular. ("I'm not a fan of yours," he'd said. "That's okay," I'd replied. "We don't have to be fans of one another.) Earlier in our conversation, Wilson had offered me some
advice about writing, based on the one post from my blog he'd read. (Someone had drawn it to
his attention.) "From what I've read. I think you have a very naive view of
what and how to write." He pointed out that he is an author.
Wilson stressed that he doesn't read blogs; he didn't have the
time to; that the people associated with Dean Del Mastro were too busy trying
to help people. "If there are negative people out there, it's their
choice. It's a free country. Dean has put himself out in the political arena,
so he's open to attack."
What he couldn't understand, he told me, is why Dean had attracted so much negative attention:
"When people spend a chunk of their time (which I think is wasted)
attacking a person who is working very hard to do a lot of good things for the
Riding; and who will probably leave politics in another four years when he
feels he has done what he can; and will leave a legacy—it's your choice to
attack that person. I choose to help that person."
Good, like beauty, is apparently in the eyes of the beholder.
I thought that Dean Del Mastro was doing the right things for Peterborough
Riding -- or that the Conservative Party of Canada was doing the right things for
Canada -- I'd be helping to lead the parade.
But I don't share his (or their) vision of Canada. I want a
true north strong and free.
I am grateful that my parents taught me to speak my mind and
to do what is right, even when it is scary to do so. I am raising my children
to live their lives in the same way. Using your voice may be difficult at
first, but once you've done it—wow: the way you feel inside, knowing you've
been true to your values and that you're linking arms with all the other people
who are counting on you to stand up for the things that really matter: it's one
of the most amazing feelings you'll ever have. You get to feel democracy pulsing
through your veins.
Douglas O'Driscoll (human or sock puppet) is no longer
the Facebook administrator for the We LOVE Dean Del Mastro Facebook Group. The
Douglas O'Driscoll account was deleted from Facebook sometime between Wednesday
morning (when I visited Del Mastro's constituency office) and Saturday
Douglas O'Driscoll account has also disappeared from Facebook entirely. The group is
currently operating without an administrator.
By leaving the group and not
appointing a new administrator, Douglas O'Driscoll account has cleverly ensured
that the libelous information about me will remain on Facebook indefinitely –
and Del Mastro can't be criticized for not intervening.
(1) It will
not be possible for Dean Del Mastro to contact Douglas O'Driscoll because he is no longer the group administrator and he is no
longer even on Facebook.
(2) Because there is no new administrator, Del Mastro
cannot be expected to contact that person.
(3) The Facebook
Group system suffers from a fatal flaw: if the last remaining administrator of a group leaves that group
without appointing a new administrator, no one else can become the