“A person commits an assault when without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly…” -Criminal Code of Canada
In February of 2014, independent journalist Joey Coleman was aggressively shoved in City Hall by Councillor Lloyd Ferguson. This was the beginning of a series of events that saw Coleman halt his ongoing coverage of City Hall, after an Integrity Commissioners much criticized report that described the incident as inappropriate, but not an assault. Further, the report accused Coleman of an unproven history of eavesdropping on Councillors. Combined with other incidents which have made Coleman feel unsafe and unwelcome at City Hall, the city lost what was the only full-time journalistic oversight of the political happenings in Hamilton for a period of time.
We intend to fully investigate this incident, and the fall-out in a documentary film that will include interviews with Councillors, Joey, Integrity Commissioners, the Ontario Ombudsman, and anyone else with a relevant contribution to the story. It is our general belief that both council and city staff did not behave appropriately, nor in a manner one would expect from municipal leaders, in the handling of this incident. Along the way we intend to further investigate the intent and work of Joey Coleman, which appears to be quite unique and important.
The goal of The Public Record is simple: to provide informed coverage of Hamilton’s communities and civic affairs to enable all residents to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship by ensuring more transparent, good civic government that is accountable to all residents of Hamilton. – Joey Coleman’s stated goal
Should journalists within City Hall feel that they have a safe working environment and should public spaces have a zero tolerance for violence for all, no exceptions? In this incident, has social status and job position placed someone above the law? Did Lloyd Ferguson’s position as head of the Police Services Board affect whether this was investigated in a timely manner? Who does the city’s Zero Tolerance policy apply to?
Production on this film will be completed by October of 2015, with a series of screenings and an online release shortly after.