After conflicting accounts, a Toronto audio forensic laboratory has confirmed there was indeed a death threat levelled against The Current’s publisher Roger Paul by Councillor Ernie Peplinski in a public council meeting on February 7, contradicting claims made by Mayor Kim Love who said there was no evidence of a threat. She said this even though Councillor Carl Bromwich had previously told Paul that he not only heard the threat at the time it was said, but also on the Township’s Soundcloud recording. Despite the matter being discussed at two Council meetings, Peplinski has not used those opportunities to publicly deny that he made such a threat.
At the August 27 Council meeting, members of Council appeared to circle the wagons around the question of whether Peplinski had uttered the threat. Bromwich now says that he regarded the statements he made to Paul as being “opinion not fact.”
The Current arranged for an independent forensic sound analyst to examine the relevant extract from the Soundcloud recording containing Peplinski’s remarks. In addition to the profanity directed at Paul, which has not been disputed, this analyst has confirmed the threat is audible. Specifically he, who is a professional engineer, says:
“Initially it was not heard, after I increased harmonics selectively, I was able to hear it without a doubt.”
Prior to the August 27 Council meeting, members of Council had received a letter from the Township’s lawyers, Wishart Law of Sault Ste. Marie, which disputed Paul’s public statements that he had formerly practised law in Ontario. Armed with the knowledge that the CAO/Clerk was going to be directed to share this opinion with members of the public with resulting damage to Paul’s reputation and also that of The Current, Council proceeded to levy a number of attacks not only on Paul but also on The Madawaska Valley Current and this reporter.
Paul has subsequently provided documentary proof of his legal qualifications. At the time of writing this article, however, there has been no public retraction or apology either by the Township or by Council. The Mayor’s claims concerning the death threat and her instructions to make public the unfounded disputing of Paul’s background may have serious ramifications because they also call into question the ethics, professionalism, and truthfulness of this news outlet, its editor, and this reporter.
So far, Council has said that it has limited its reaction to the “unparliamentary language” used by Peplinski by providing him with “training.” The details of what kind of training he completed have not been disclosed because Council chose to do so in an in camera meeting where privilege allows them to keep those details from the taxpayer.
Paul has instructed his lawyer, Robert Howe, to communicate with the Wishart Law firm on behalf of him and his wife. Among other things, an explanation is being sought for what Paul describes as “another cynical muzzling attempt” imposed on him, referring to the resolution Council passed limiting his future contact with the Township. Readers may recall that just days after The Current began, Paul and his wife were banned from communicating directly with Township staff. This was in response to a courtesy email sent to the CAO advising him of The Current’s existence. Click HERE for that report.