Lakehead Student Re-Elected to City Council, Not Without Controversy

Mason Ainsworth will serve second term as councillor for Ward 3

By: Aadam Bandaisha, Contributor

Lakehead Orillia Political Science and Pre-Law student, Mason Ainsworth, the youngest city councillor in Orillia’s history, has been re-elected for his second term as councillor for Ward 3 in Orillia.

Mason Ainsworth. Sourced from simcoe.com.

This victory comes after a hard-fought campaign against five other candidates. Ainsworth has been an active member of the Orillia community and can often be found at public events around town. His platform is based on the values of “Accountability, Approachability, and Hard Work”. His last election into City Council was seen as a source of pride for many at Lakehead Orillia.

During this re-election, however, Ainsworth’s character has been called into question by some at Lakehead and elsewhere around town. There have been a few sources of controversy in particular and some students have shared their opinions on these matters.

The main source of this controversy comes from an “endorsement” for Lakehead Political Science professor, Dr. Syed Islam, which Ainsworth posted on his Facebook page. Although the endorsement is a bright letter of recommendation which successfully highlights Ainsworth’s character and great work ethic, it was not intended to be used as a political endorsement, but rather, as a reference letter.

Dr. Islam distances himself from this “endorsement” with the following statement in Orillia Matters: “All I wrote in my recommendation letter [was] that he was a good student in my courses … and if he wants to use that letter for his self-promotion to project his past academic background in the school that’s up to him as long as he does not claim that I have endorsed him for election.” This statement by Dr. Islam was quite the buzz around campus at the time. (In a town of our size, of course, every political occasion is a big occasion!)

Ainsworth responded to this controversy by claiming, “I did post a reference letter on my Facebook from Dr. Islam as I was told I could use it whenever I needed it for help.”  The opinions of Lakehead Orillia students have been polarizing around the issue. While Ainsworth may have been misleading regarding this issue, many students continue to hold him in positive regard as he is a symbol of the university’s progress, opportunity, and success.

Ainsworth’s platform has been one of transparency, and he has been diligent in pushing his peers to also exemplify this quality. Perhaps this is why it came as a shock to many when this bump in the re-election road occurred. It is, however, possible that this bump was merely the result of a miscommunication.

Whatever the case may be, it is certainly to the benefit of many Lakehead students that we have a student from our campus sitting on the City Council, so that young academics’ problems can be represented at some political level.

The Argus attempted to interview Ainsworth directly regarding this issue and the election, which he initially agreed to. However, he failed to answer the questions presented in the given time frame. The reasons for this are unclear but hopefully, in the future, an interview with the councillor will occur and prove fruitful.