A good friend of mine, Peter Rukavina, has been writing on his Ruk.ca weblog (in various incarnations) for about eight years. I’ve always enjoyed reading what Peter writes. Over the years, Peter has written a variety of posts about Tim Banks. Tim is the President and CEO of the APM Group, a development and construction company.
While the things Peter wrote about Mr. Banks were seldom flattering, they were not unreasonable. In November of 2005, Peter wrote about how Banks had asked the Mayor of Charlottetown to remove Councillor Kim Devine from a planning committee because she had what Banks called an “obstructionist attitude.”
Last month, a few of us were on our way to a public meeting about a downtown development plan hosted by the City of Charlottetown. On our way to the meeting, Peter snapped this photo of an illegally parked vehicle that was easily recognized by most of us as Tim Banks’ car (the vanity license plate bears the company name, APM). As a courtesy, Peter did not include Mr. Banks’ name when he posted the photo. Many locals would recognize the vehicle, but without a name, it wouldn’t show up if people were to search for Mr. Banks’ name online.
Apparently Mr. Banks was not pleased about this. As Peter recounts in some detail, Mr. Banks walked up to him in a coffee shop, confronted him about the car photo, and then “took a swing at the full cup of coffee in my hand, spilling it across the counter and over my newspaper and breakfast.”
Peter notified the police about the incident, which is completely appropriate. I’m saddened to see a good friend and good writer have to fear this kind of repercussion to having written online. If a traditional newspaper journalist had published the photo and was similarly assaulted, this kind of behaviour wouldn’t be be considered acceptable, nor should it be in Peter’s case.
This may not be of interest to many readers, being a local incident. However, I do think it should be of interest to anyone concerned about the ability of people to write and publish without fear of intimidation, no matter the degree.