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The poison pen letter

Email is quickly becoming the new poison pen medium - just ask Bill Bennett.

Email is quickly becoming the new poison pen medium - just ask Bill Bennett.

Bennett, the now former minister of state for mines, resigned this week after a profanity-laden email he sent to a constituent surfaced, first through the opposition and then via the media.

To his credit, Bennett realized he had made a grave error and tendered his resignation immediately.

In this age of everything electronic, email, cell phones and Blackberry devices are the way many of us communicate. Everyone seems to have them. In fact, most of the correspondence we receive from the public comes via email. Be it letters to the editor, story ideas, submissions and photos - virtually nothing gets done by fax any more - it's all email.

That has its pros and cons. We've all received an email or two from someone and didn't like the content or the tone of the message. We've all been tempted to fire off a response really quickly, in the heat of the moment. But as soon as you press the send button, it's all over. There is no going back.

We can learn from Bennett's situation. Whether you're dealing with personal issues with friends or family or you're a politician dealing with a constituent (or a citizen dealing with a politician), never retaliate angrily or too quickly in an email. Wait a little while to process all the information. If you must respond, do so in a respectful manner. You can still get your message across, but in a way that's not so antagonistic or - in the case of Mr. Bennett - insulting and ferocious.

Scam warningThere is a new phone scam making the rounds on the Coast. This one promises the winner a trip to the Caribbean. All you have to do is provide a little personal information, namely, a credit card number. A concerned resident contacted us this week. The man has received several phone calls claiming he was a winner. He has several friends who have also received calls. Phone Busters is well aware of the scam and so are Sunshine Coast RCMP. In fact, one of the officers also got a phone call at home saying he had won a trip.

The message from police - don't give them anything - not your credit card or any personal information. Don't follow the directions given by the automated caller.

If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is too good to be true.