In an interview with Geoff Meeker, VOCM Open Line show host Randy Simms gave the text-book definition of a planted caller.
Simms was describing his experience in the first couple of days after news broke that the Premier was in the United States for heart surgery. He rejected the idea the calls and e-mails were organized but then gave what is in essence the textbook definition of an orchestrated, partisan political campaign of intimidation aimed at local news media:
“…In many instances, they weren’t listening to the program, they don’t know what the question was that I asked, they haven’t read my column. But they are responding (anyway)… and a lot of them will respond and cc it to other offices, let’s say that. And it’s done for a different motivation than engaging in legitimate democratic debate. But you get some of that, right?”
Simms also described the e-mail portion of the campaign:
Towards the end of the February 2 program, Simms referred to a bunch of emails he had received that day; messages that were vicious, insulting and mean-spirited.
“I don’t know why you would take the time to write an email, the sole purpose of which is to insult, to see if you can inflict some kind of emotional hurt. I don’t know why you would do that. That says more about you, than it does about me. …”
And if that wasn’t enough, Simms has also been subjected to personal threats:
““All of us, everybody, in any form of public life will have threats made against them. If you could read what has been said to me, about me, and of me, simply because we mentioned Danny Williams name and health care in the same sentence. I’ve had my life threatened. I’ve been threatened with being shot. I’ve been threatened with having my house burned down. We even had a guy come on Facebook yesterday and he actually said that Randy Simms should do us all a favour and hang himself in his basement. Now I ask you – These people… should these people be walking around free?”
The short answer is “no”.
It’s a criminal offence to make threats, and if Simms has been getting that type of stuff, the best thing to do is turn the information over the police. Let them investigate and take appropriate action. Some of these louts can be tracked down and when they’ve been rooted out, let them deal with the consequences.
No need to wonder any more if last Saturday’s analysis here at Bond Papers read too much into the current climate in Newfoundland and Labrador.