The Ontario election is June 7. Why should this matter to the Atlantic provinces? There are a few possible answers. Ontario’s size in relation to the Atlantic region means what happens there tends to ripple outwards and affect other provincial economies. Sometimes things launched in Ontario find their way east as precursors to legislative direction here.
And we should be aware of something else that could take root here as well.
Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford, complaining about the media, has done an internet end-run around the system. Not satisfied with the news coverage he’s receiving, he’s created his own with scripted video reports on his Facebook site. It’s not news, really. Just political advertising disguised to look like news.
So why does it matter if a candidate is willing to pay for and script his own questions-andanswer coverage?
For years politicians have complained they’re not getting a fair shake from the media. What they actually mean is that they’re not getting the kind of coverage they want, coverage that only promotes their positive actions.
The real media views coverage and analysis differently. Rather than classing news as “positive” and “negative,” the media is generally more concerned about what’s true and what’s just blowing smoke.
People aren’t stupid. Hopefully, if they take the time to watch closely they’ll realize that Fordbranded “newcast” – complete with Ford-branded microphones and campaign staff as “reporters” – does not represent an objective analysis of a political campaign.
We should be looking ahead at where campaign-produced internet “coverage” should fit in provincial and federal campaigns and how it would have to be identified as campaign advertising, especially if a candidate makes a point of avoiding media scrutiny and questions.
We don’t knowingly let large corporations script and enforce their own regulations or consumer protection standards. We don’t allow teachers to pick their own individual curricula, nor do we allow drivers to decide what the safe top speed is that they can drive at, or the amount of alcohol they can handle and stay behind the wheel.
Having Doug Ford’s staff explain why Doug Ford is the best choice on the Doug Ford news channel is more than a little conflicted. And having his own staff tell you that’s why someone should vote for him? Well, it’s self-serving indeed.