Trudeau Government's Information Control
The Trudeau Liberal government has begun a concerted effort to control the information that Canadians receive regarding politics and policy - especially during elections.
As you may recall from last year, the Trudeau Liberals announced a $600 million fund to support Canadian mainstream media. Who receives money from this fund will be determined by an "expert" panel, chosen by the Liberal government.
When it was announced, it sent a chill through those concerned that media were already towing the party line and acting as de facto spokespeople for the Liberal government.
However, this was just the first step in what would become a long-term, carefully planned campaign to limit and control the flow of information to voters, particularly in the lead-up to and during the 2019 federal election.
The next limitation imposed by the government on the free dissemination of information only recently became clear. In late 2018, the Liberals passed Bill C-76, which made sweeping changes to how elections are run in Canada. Media at the time covered the changes to the rules governing third parties - or Political Action Committees (PACs) as they are more commonly known - limiting their spending.
However, included within Bill C-76 were a series of changes to Internet-based advertising. These changes were opposed by groups like Google, who pointed out that the regulations being proposed in the new law were too onerous to allow companies to comply with them.
Just last week, Google announced that as a result of the new law they would be banning political advertising in the lead-up to and during the 2019 election, including issue-related ads. For perspective, Google is the largest online advertiser in the world, and receives roughly half of all money being spent on digital ads. Banning political and issue advertising on them means independent groups will be unable to promote their messages when Canadians are most engaged in the political and policy process.
However, government advertising in the lead-up to the election will be allowed on Google advertising since it isn't considered either political or issue-based.
This means that the Liberal government will have a virtual monopoly on advertising on the most popular and wide-reaching digital advertising platform in Canada.
Thirdly, the Liberal government has begun a quiet campaign to "de-platform" those voices who are critical of their policy agenda. Parody accounts, critical journalists from independent media, and other dissenting voices are finding their accounts blocked or sanctioned after being reported by the Liberal government.
Unlike in the United States, where the politically-driven blocking of conservative voices receives national attention, there is almost no notice of it in Canada. The fact that it is often being driven by Liberal politicians, their offices, and possibly even the Prime Minister's Office - who tracks those who disagree with the Trudeau Liberals - is even more disturbing.
Fourthly, as the SNC-Lavalin crisis began consuming the Trudeau Liberals following the explosive testimony of former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, we saw an example of how the Liberals exercised their control over the mainstream media.
According to Ms. Wilson-Raybould's testimony, Trudeau PMO Chief of Staff Katie Telford told Wilson-Raybould that she could arrange supportive op-eds in major media publications if Wilson-Raybould did the PMO's bidding on the SNC-Lavalin file.
For a Chief of Staff to be able to say, point blank, that she could arrange op-eds in major media outlets without regard for their journalistic independence suggests strongly that these media outlets are now at the government's beck and call - part of the impact of the Liberal media bailout fund.
Finally, as was noted by Candice Malcolm in the Toronto Sun, Canada's state broadcaster, the CBC, produced a partisan and highly misleading article saying that fake accounts were fervently retweeting and sharing conservative voices, skewing the information Canadians receive from online sources.
In fact, CBC singles out Ezra Levant, Barbara Kay, and Candice Malcolm as those receiving boosts from online bots.
However, a quick read of the article makes it clear that there is no widespread campaign by bots to advance conservative messaging - out a 9 million tweets analyzed since 2013, only 21,600 mentioned Canada - and the person who received the most retweets - Ezra Levant - received fewer than 200 retweets in total from fake accounts.
However, the fact that this CBC story didn't amount to anything more than a partisan attempt by the taxpayer-funded Liberal-backing CBC didn't stop it from being promoted by then-Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Gerald Butts, who pushed it out from his personal Twitter account.
Taken together, these actions all point to a single conclusion - the Trudeau Liberals are actively working to limit the information Canadians receive from voice critical of their government.
It represents a major threat to the health of Canada's democracy, and a broader threat the ability for non-government groups and voices to share political and policy information with voters.
It is vital that these actions not go unnoticed, and that the Trudeau Liberals held to account for their systematic campaign to control information in Canada
Canadians for Democracy and Prosperity
PS. Are you concerned about the ways in which large technology companies like Facebook and Google are shaping your views? Come out to our screening of The Creepy Line on April 2nd in Calgary! For more information or to buy tickets, please visit our website by clicking here.