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REPORTING · 17th March 2011
Merv Ritchie
In a recent email exchange between the Terrace Daily and Bruce Lantz, the current troubled Mayor of Fort St John, threats of impending legal action have been levelled.

Claiming our expose’ on his malfeasant activity in the start up of both the Northeast Weekly and the Northeast News as being malicious, due to the writers family relationship with a principle of the Northwest Weekly, Lantz has been requesting a full retraction and apology.

Among other statements he made, which had nothing to do with the article we composed, Lantz wrote the following;

Your 'story' about me contains so many errors in fact it would be difficult to list them all within this space, but it is obvious that it is another attempt to smear me without foundation in fact. Just a couple of points: I never have lived in Prince Rupert, I've lived uninterrupted in Fort St. John since 1995; I didn't force him to start in Northeastern BC.

We offered Lantz the opportunity to counter the statements made within the expose’ and he has refused to address any of them. On one point of inaccuracy he raised we acknowledged our mistake.

“I do not know you and I never lived in the area so assuming you lived in Prince Rupert when you were editor of the NW Weekly was my mistake. This one detail I could apologize for.”

We previously asked the following questions regarding all the other details in the article he objected to; Read the article HERE.

Could you please elaborate on the difficulties you encountered in Ft St John as the Mayor? It appears by all reports you have a drinking problem however it also would seem obvious by the sanctioning of your presence in the company of any female staff that your intoxicated behaviour might have had you acting inappropriately with them. Please confirm or deny.

In regards to your concerns with our article.

Do you claim you did not write a letter stating you would leave the employ of Messieurs Bartlett and Ritchie, and move to Calgary, if they did not start the NE Weekly in the late summer of 2003?

Do you claim you did not secure the name Northeast News in the later part of 2003? And further do claim that you actually informed Messieurs Ritchie and Bartlett of your securing this name?

Do you claim that you in fact did inform Messieurs Bartlett and Ritchie of the partnership arrangement Ms. McNaughton enjoyed with you in Northeast News?

Are you claiming you did not cancel the communications account with Telus you had set up on behalf of Northeast Weekly?

Did you or did you not deposit a cheque in the account of Northeast News, which was made out to the Northeast Weekly?

Mayor Lantz did not answer any of these questions. He responded on Thursday evening, March 17, with the following;

I fail to understand why you think I might like to discuss these issues with you of all people. Publishing inaccuracies and lies and half-truths and only THEN seeking the other side of the story (if that's what you're pretending to do) isn't journalism. I will be happy to explain the truth in court, if you push me to it. You've been given the opportunity to pull those lies from both your websites and to publish a retraction. If you choose not to do that, as is your right, then your next communication from me will be through my libel lawyer.
Bruce Lantz

We found it disconcerting that the Mayor of Fort St John would find it so difficult to address the issues regarding his past endeavours, so we offered yet another opportunity for him to respond stating in part;

As you were not taking any calls, no matter how we attempted, it would be most difficult to achieve that other side of the story, you correctly state we seek.

If you wish to respond with your "other" side of the story through your lawyer that is quite fine.

Merv Ritchie
C/O Terrace Daily News
PO Box 154 Terrace BC, V8G 4A6

Please ensure you answer all of the questions we posed fully and accurately so we can represent your position with the truth as you see it.

Rather than wasting your money on a lawyer however, you could just answer the questions honestly and in a forthright manner.

Mayor Lantz appears to be intransigent in his position of not needing to respond to our allegations. He simply responded with the following, which we openly expressed we were looking forward to engaging in a relationship with him in this regard.

The lawyer will be in touch.

His initial claim, that he did not pressure Bartlett and Ritchie to start the NE Weekly is countered by the attached letter from Lantz where he clearly states if they do not, he will move to Calgary. Some of the allegations we made and requested his response to, such as terminating the Telus communications of the Northeast Weekly, are clearly addressed in the attachments and picture with the previous article linked above.

All the other documents to back up our claims in the expose’ of this North East BC Mayor will be, of course, provided to his lawyer if and when he decides to pursue this action.

In Libel Law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada in regards to media, be it web based or print is; is it the truth, is it in the public interest and did you offer the party of interest the opportunity to respond.

In all cases we find ourselves in the ready to defend our position.
Thank You
Comment by Adam Kirschner on 23rd March 2011
Your honest and straight forward reporting is appreciated greatly by the residents here is FSJ. Keep up the good work!
Our Dubious Mayor
Comment by FSJ Resident on 22nd March 2011
I have to say that I did not vote for Lantz and can't wait for him to be gone. His actions at various events where he is tasked to represent the citizens of Fort St. John are despicable and reprehensible. I have heard from numerous counselors from other communities how his actions are disturbing when away on city 'business'. I would be more than willing to donate funds for the Terrace paper to request under FOIP information regarding the closed meetings our council had relating to this matter and to the matter of using the city credit card as his own personal bank account. As for him having a lawyer, I don't know if he can afford one, last I heard he owed several contractors in town money for work performed on his private property and he was taken to court. He is a little weasel in a suit full of hot air.
Future Liberal MLA
Comment by Danny Nunes on 19th March 2011
So Mayor Lantz has been censured for allegedly "unacceptable" conduct and that he not be left alone with any female member of the city of Fort St Johns staff and now he wants to come after the Terrace Daily for "attacking" his reputation..ha

This man will make a great Liberal MLA in the future....ha.

You get what you vote for I guess.

Im not a lawyer..
Comment by Sheldon on 18th March 2011
I'm not a lawyer but I don't see anything dishonorable about asking these questions. As I understand it to be libel for a statement it has to be just that; a statement and not a question. Like I said tho, I'm not a lawyer and I don't pretend to be one.

From my point of view it appears that a shamed Mayor is trying to censor the truth with legal threats.

Interesting note: this story was also featured by CBC:

I look forward to hearing what his lawyer has to say.