Just launched Monday, Toronto election news clearinghouse Toronto Election News is a splashy aggregator that aims to be the most comprehensive source of information on the titular topic. When it comes to offering information about itself, however, TEN is a bit more coy.
As Mondoville found, not only are all the posts anonymous but a WHOIS search for the domain registration reveals that its owner paid a bit extra for the privilege of being able to obscure his identity. That said, it doesn’t take much clicking (or taunting) to trace the site back to Tory strategist Brett Bell, who most recently served as “Social Media director” for Tim Hudak’s leadership campaign.
In a former life, Bell was the manager of government relations for lobbying firm the Lyons Group, where he helped set up the ironically-named “Toronto Environmental Coalition” on behalf of the pesticide industry. A trip on the Wayback Machine provides a glimpse of Jeffrey Lyons and Friends in happier days, prior to what could generously be described as the most spectacular crash and burn in City Hall’s recent history. (Honestly, think of the things Lyons had to do to become disgraced as a lobbyist.)
In late 2003 (about midway through the Leasing Inquiry), Bell hopped on over to Fasken Martineau, and according to an old Now article, served as their “key player at City Hall” at the time the company was waging war on behalf of Eucan and the Megabins. One of the dirtiest campaigns I’ve seen, strategies included rigging public consultation results and putting out a libelous press release suggesting that Dave Meslin had a soft spot for sexual assault (seriously). Still, Eucan won Mayor Miller’s endorsement for their eminently terrible product, so they couldn’t have had the worst lobbyists in the world.
What does any of this have to do with Bell’s Toronto Election News? Hopefully nothing. There is no reason to believe that the site will necessarily serve as anything other than the non-partisan, unaffiliated resource that it promises to be. At the same time, however, people should know who’s behind these kinds of news sites, even ones that primarily compile content from elsewhere (including from this blog); it’s the essence of all credibility, so when a publisher/editor doesn’t think his identity is particularly relevant info, then that itself becomes Toronto election news.
(UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.) Bell has now fleshed out TEN’s About page to include information about himself.