Collingwood blogger complains to OPP about Nazi web video
Political writer says someone is warning him to stop digging at Collingwood Town Hall
A local blogger in Collingwood, Ont., who has been a vocal critic of town council, has complained to police about a mock video posted online depicting him being killed by Nazis.
"I didn't know what to think when I first saw it," said Steve Berman, an early childhood educator with the local school board, who has been writing a blog for the past seven months which is highly critical of town politics.
Someone anonymously posted a video online of a German-language movie about the Nazis with English subtitles super-imposed suggesting Berman was causing havoc at Collingwood Town Hall and that municipal officials were burning records to hide evidence of backroom deals and corruption.
The video has a stark, deadly ending.
"The character in it was me, according to the text," said Berman, who showed CBC the video. "The Nazis dragged me out of my bed, took me out in a back alley and shot me in the back.
"It makes me feel like whoever posted it was telling me to stop doing what I was doing," Berman said, adding he filed a formal complaint after showing the video to local OPP officers.
"I have two kids. What if they saw the video? My parents. What if they saw the video? My wife. I have a grandfather who turns 97 in two weeks who fought the Nazis in World War II. What if he saw the video?"
Berman says he became politically active and began filing Freedom of Information Act requests last summer after the abrupt firing of the town CAO, and then a series of decisions involving town recreation facilities and a casino proposal.
"The deeper that I dug, the more I found that [the rec facilities] wasn't the only issue in town," Berman said.
"When they are not following process properly, when they are not following their own procurement policies, when they are not following their own code of ethics and everything's being done behind the scenes, and orchestrated behind the scene first — that's wrong."
CBC News has learned the OPP are now investigating three separate complaints from citizens alleging conflict of interest and bid-tampering by some elected officials in Collingwood.
Berman said his own concern about town business was tweaked last summer when the town council rejected a recommendation from a community parks, recreation and culture advisory committee that had worked for six months coming up with a proposal for a large new integrated recreational facility. Instead, on the suggestion of the deputy mayor, according to town emails Berman obtained, within two months staff were ordered to draft a sole-sourced contract to pay a company $12 million to install two domed covers over a swimming pool and ice rink, before council had even heard from the company or voted to authorize staff to ink a deal.
The company appeared before the public and Collingwood council for the first time on Aug. 27. The council voted minutes later to approve a $12-million contract, despite protests from the community.
When told by CBC News that the OPP are now examining three separate complaints over how town council and staff are making decisions, Berman said, "It's about time!"
He insists his blog — which has generated more than 40,000 views — has fuelled debate, but is not a sign that he wants to run for political office himself. But he doesn't rule it out.
"I also don't want to shovel my driveway after a blizzard. But, somebody has to do it. So, you can ask me that question again in year and we'll see what the climate is in Collingwood. We'll see what the fallout is from the police investigation."