This was not a prank.

Whatever remaining credibility the single-issue pressure group Envision Edmonton has with the voters has been (or at least should be) shot to hell with the fake reporter scandal (Fakegate?) .

If you’re reading this blog, you’re no doubt familiar with the scandal, but I’ll recap. A high-profile Envision Edmonton volunteer, Nathan Black, posed as a reporter for the Seattle Times and wrote a blog entry that claimed that Mayor Stephen Mandel was supporting the closure of the City Centre Airport to benefit this wealthy developer friends. Black actually conducted interviews, characterized as being quite abusive by city councillor Amarjeet Sohi, who fell for the scam.  (Why anyone would think the Seattle Times would have an interest in the Edmonton civic election is beyond me, but we’re a trusting people. This hasn’t made news in Seattle, although I did find this story http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010066754_copjobs15m.html about Edmonton trying to recruit cops in Seattle from 2009 which is fun reading.)

Black is also a volunteer for David Dorward, which comes as no surprise since Dorward is basically a straw man for Envision Edmonton. While Dorward has denounced Black’s actions, Envision Edmonton called it just a “prank” by a well-meaning, overzealous volunteer.

Ah, no, it’s not. Creating an alter-ego and posing as a reporter is fraud, and writing a blog (which Black denies doing, to be fair) that questions the integrity of a mayoralty candidate without a shred of evidence borders on slander. Or libel. One or the other.

Our entire news gathering process is built on a very thin foundation of trust. If someone phones a politician claiming to be a a reporter, the politician has no choice but to believe him. That’s the way the system works. If “pranksters” start to make claims — also known as lies — about who they are and who they work for, the whole system collapses. If the people at Envision Edmonton don’t understand that, then they’ve got a seriously skewed view of the world that does not match mine. When this election is over, let’s hope this is the last we hear from these single-issue zealots.

And finally, here is an exact quote from Envision Edmonton-supported Ward 5 candidate Steve Bergeron from the Ward 5 forum: “We do not need no more vacant land in the city core.”

We doesn’t?

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