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OPINION: Hey Hanwell, "It's Me, Hi!"

When I started Cross Border Interviews, I never imagined that it would create such a stir and lead to the suspension of a local councillor. The show was born from a simple premise: we need to step away from social media and rekindle the art of genuine conversations. It took nearly 500 episodes to find our groove, and I knew I wasn't going to make a splash in the vast pool that is Canada, but I was determined to make a meaningful dent.

I wanted to tell stories and talk to the people who make this country work, regardless of whether I agreed with them or not. From mayors of big cities to councillors in small towns, I traversed the country to chat with local leaders and dive into their communities. I prided myself on conducting unscripted interviews, without prepared notes or hidden agendas, simply letting the conversation flow naturally.

I've had the privilege of connecting with a variety of municipal leaders across Canada, and my recent July 6th, interview with Councillor Pat Septon of Hanwell, N.B., was just another candid conversation. Councillor Septon fit the bill for the show – a human, an elected official, and most importantly, a locally elected leader in Canada.

Little did I know that this interview would be the catalyst for his suspension from Hanwell Council. The news came as a surprise, and in Coun. Darren MacKenzie's motion to suspend Councillor Septon, it was mentioned that he had "found a way to escalate things once again" by participating in podcasts, including mine, "from all the way out in Alberta".

I never set out to be a Peter Mansbridge or a Walter Cronkite. My goal was simply to escape the "social media screen" and have meaningful conversations.

Now, the question arises: could the show have played a role in Councillor Septon's suspension? It's an unexpected turn of events that I could never have foreseen when I started Cross Border Interviews back in 2019.

It's important to clarify that the show was never meant to be a news program, even though my journalism background occasionally led me to write news pieces or produce news videos, about municipal issues. Nevertheless, this incident has sparked the need for a follow-up or a rebuttal. At the time of publication of this piece, I've reached out to Mayor Morrison inviting him on the show to appear on the show and share his perspective and clarify and/or rebut any claims that Councillor Septon made in the July 6th episode.

The journey with Cross Border Interviews continues, and in September, we're launching a new venture that I'm excited to share. But for now, I'll keep you updated on the responses from Hanwell.

In the end, it's a reminder of the power of open, unfiltered conversations and how they can have unexpected consequences, both good and challenging. We must embrace the exchange of ideas and opinions, even when they diverge, for it is through these conversations that we gain a deeper understanding of each other and our shared society.


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