‘Agitator’ unfair label


by admin on October 7, 2009

The Editor,

My morning ritual often starts with a coffee from Les Saisons in Chelsea, Quebec. A quick scan of the Globe, Citizen and on Friday mornings, the Low Down. Friday Oct 2 was particularly memorable, as I read the front page headline, “Meech Creek agitator killed by emergency van”, referring to the recent and tragic death of Huguette Poulin of Chelsea outside of Montreal.

Reading “…killed by emergency van” is very upsetting in and of itself; these are the very vehicles that are meant to serve and protect the community, driven, of course, by highly trained public servants of one form or another.

But it was the headline’s preamble that I found most disturbing and utterly disrespectful, “Meech Creek agitator…”. How can the Low Down possibly find this to be a suitable headline announcing the death of a longtime member of our community? Ms. Poulin stood her ground on many controversial issues, spoke her piece and challenged the status quo, but since when does the Low Down have the right to label someone, especially in death, of being an agitator? Freedom of speech is a right, but shouldn’t come with a moniker from a local paper like the Low Down.

Once I got over the initial shock, I read it aloud to anyone within earshot, and it was greeted with a gasp by everyone who heard. “That’s terrible”, “Bad style” and “Shame on Nikki” (Mantell, editor) were the kindest of the words that were uttered.

While the quasi- and informal obituary that followed was complementary, I, and many others, feel that some type of apology or acknowledgement of disrespect should be published in the next edition in memory of Ms. Poulin.

You really crossed the line with this. In the future, please try to show a little more sympathy.

Derek Medland


Editor’s note: While some readers may have been agitated by our word choice, here is the Oxford Concise Dictionary’s definition of agitator: “one who agitates, esp. poltically”; Dictionary.com says, “a person who stirs up others in order to upset the status quo and further a political, social, or other cause”.

Huguette Poulin spent many an evening at Chelsea council meetings demanding action on Meech Creek or Gatineau Park issues, or by writing letters of a similar vein to government agencies or this newspaper. Poulin was an agitator for her causes, and there is no ill fame to being such.