Trials and tribulations of covering politics

As today is my last one at the Penticton Western News I would like to thank editor Dan Ebenal and publisher Mark Walker for the opportunity to work here as well as everybody who has taken the time to read my work.

Bruce Walkinshaw

Bruce Walkinshaw

As today is my last one at the Penticton Western News I would like to thank editor Dan Ebenal and publisher Mark Walker for the opportunity to work here as well as everybody who has taken the time to read my work.

For the most part I have covered politics for the paper, concentrating on the City Hall beat. It has been occasionally exciting, often fun and always an honour to cover a beat that, whether people care about it or not, has such a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of the city’s residents, business owners and visitors.

At the risk of sounding like a blowhard, or perhaps exposing myself as one, I believe that reporting on government is an extremely important vocation and an intrinsic element of a functioning democracy, or in Canada’s case: a functioning parliamentary system. Where there is no free press in a position to scrutinize the government, there is no democratic government.

And so government must remain committed to protecting and facilitating the press’ ability to scrutinize its institutions, operations and policies. The public must continue to assimilate the press’ work, each adjusting their beliefs, opinions and actions accordingly as a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it, makes about as much noise as a well-crafted illuminative story on government that no one reads, watches or listens to. And lastly, the press must strive to be — and appear to be — as objective, fair and reasonable as possible as journalism has no utilitarian value if the public believes the press’ work to be rhetoric instead of reporting.

After working here, I think it is fair to say that for the most part all the three entities in this community have held up their ends of the bargain. I have come to know, learn from and work beside some great journalists here and I can tell you unequivocally that this community is being served by a number of intelligent, honest, hardworking and altruistic people in its press core.

I also think you, the residents of the South Okanagan, have a very robust relationship with your own democratic process. Indeed, though I have worked for papers where the distribution was considerably larger than this one, I have never worked in a community where as many people have read and responded to my reports with emails, letters to the editors or one-to-one conversations. And the amount of civic participation in the shaping of this city and its surrounding area is outstanding.

Finally, I think it should be said that the vast majority of civil servants and politicians who serve this community on a federal, provincial and municipal level have also kept their end of the bargain. Covering politics in the South Okanagan has been made considerably easier by timely, accurate and forthright access to information, opinion and answers provided to me by those I have covered — yes, including politicians.

Indeed, I have covered, conversed and, in some instances, gotten to know personally many politicians from all ends of the spectrum. And the vast majority of them are honest, hardworking people who could probably make more money in the private sector working less hours and suffering less of a negative effect on their personal lives but who chose to run for office because they believe in serving their community. I am not saying there are no corrupt, greedy, power-hungry, self-interested, unreasonable or mean spirited political leaders out there, I am just saying that there are no more of them in office than there are in other occupations or industries. If we are going to continuously and exponentially villainize politicians every time we disagree with them, then eventually the only people who are going to be willing to subject themselves to that kind of treatment are people who are corrupt, greedy, power-hungry and all the rest of the things people call them.

As for my future plans: I will be going back to my hometown of Vancouver to attend UBC in September while freelancing. I have a degree in English Literature, however, my undergrad marks were not what they could or should have been. So, I will work to upgrade them with the hopes of either getting a Masters in Journalism or perhaps attending law school.

My roommate and friend (Western News sports editor) Emanuel Sequeira joked with me the other day, asking if I was going to forget all about Penticton once I move back to Vancouver, suggesting that he wouldn’t hear from me anymore.

“Forget about Penticton? Are you crazy?” I responded. “Look around you. It’s beautiful here. You are going to be having me eating your food, drinking your booze and sleeping on your couch for years to come.”

Thank you Penticton and see you soon.

Bruce Walkinshaw’s booming voice will be missed at the Penticton Western News.

Just Posted

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver will golf from sunrise to sunset to raise funds for ALS on June 29. (Submitted)
Golfing from sunrise to sunset in Oliver for ALS

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club have taken up the challenge June 29

Jann Arden will embark on Canada-wide tour Spring 2022 with a stop in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on June 13. (Contributed)
Jann Arden coming to Penticton in 2022

The Jann Arden Live! tour has been rescheduled for 2022

A storm watch has been issued for the Okanagan, Kootenays and Columbia regions of B.C. (Calvin Dickson photo)
Another severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for thunderstorms that may produce strong wind gusts, hail and heavy rain

The South Okanagan Tim Hortons raised over $4,000 through the three day orange doughnut promotion with 100 per cent of proceeds going to to the Residential School Survivors Society. The owner of these locations matched the amount. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
South Okanagan Tim Hortons raises over $8K for residential school survivors

More than $4,000 worth of doughnuts were purchased over three days

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read