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On the Way to the 2019 Federal Election

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KA CHING..... Trudeau throws another $53 mill of what was your and my money out the door to aid Venezuela.....millions here, millions there...pretty soon we’ll be talking about real $$$.

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2 hours ago, st27 said:

KA CHING..... Trudeau throws another $53 mill of what was your and my money out the door to aid Venezuela.....millions here, millions there...pretty soon we’ll be talking about real $$$.

Not likely but maybe his trust fund will send some money to Venezuela but likely he will continue to use our money to "feel good".

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You are the first line of defence against misinformation, Jennifer Ditchburn says.

  • Calgary Herald
  • 9 Feb 2019
  • Jennifer Ditchburn is the editorin-chief of Policy Options, the online magazine of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, where this article first appeared.

In 2019, an election year federally and in Alberta, what if we could we all resolve to be better consumers of online content? Could we train to become sommeliers of social media news shares, carefully discerning the provenance of a piece and determining whether it is authentic or just swill — or even poison? The implications of not taking more care in terms of what we absorb and then distribute online can’t be overstated. Information is being used as a weapon not just against parties and politicians but also against our sense of trust in institutions and our social harmony.

A report by the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Research project, released in mid-December, said Russia used social media posts to suppress the African-American and Hispanic vote during the 2016 American elections. Russia’s Internet Research Agency used the segmentation of advertising markets offered by social media platforms such as Facebook to tell those voters that they should boycott the election. It encouraged right-wing voters to vote for Donald Trump and shared posts with them designed to kick up anger around minorities and immigration. The Russians also sought to drive a wedge among liberal voters, trying to “reduce trust in the political system.”

Information is being used as a weapon not just against parties and politicians but also against our sense of trust in institutions and our social harmony.

The Russian attack also spread “sensationalist, conspiratorial, and other forms of junk political news and misinformation.” If that doesn’t make you queasy enough, the Russians didn’t stop their online activity once they had been caught.

If you’re still not convinced that these campaigns are a threat in gentle and polite Canada, consider that during the 2018 Swedish election, 22 per cent of news content shared online with political hashtags was “junk news,” defined as deliberately misleading, deceptive or incorrect information.

In Mexico, the team of journalists behind Verificado monitored the misinformation that was circulated during that country’s recent presidential election on popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter and also shared as news items. Some of the cases were straight-out false stories about candidates, others misrepresentations of photographs. In one case, a video was manipulated and then presented on social media as evidence that presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (now the president) refused an interview because he was drunk. The majority of the misinformation in Mexico came from domestic actors, not from Russia, analysts have suggested.

These acts are not harmless. Beyond potentially swaying the results of an election, and poisoning our democratic process, they can also create dangerous tears in our social fabric. The idea is to polarize us and make us angry and distrustful.

“With all of the attention to ‘Nothing is true, and nothing is real, and everything is biased’ ... our worry is that we’re shifting to an ‘I don’t believe anything’ culture,” says Kathryn Ann Hill, executive director of MediaSmarts, a not-for-profit organization that promotes digital and media literacy. “That’s not a good thing because it’s a clear road to apathy, feelings of a lack of ability to have any investment in our political system or our electoral system — it’s a bad thing for democracy.”

Sure, we can look to our leaders and public servants to do something about this. Elections Canada, for example, has said it will be using artificial intelligence to try to stamp out as much disinformation about the electoral process as possible. The agency is also consulting with other countries to find out what they are doing. France passed a law against misinformation this past summer that would allow content to be removed from the internet after a quick judicial review. The legislation has been criticized as infringing on free speech.

The Public Policy Forum, in an August 2018 report on disinformation, recommended the creation of a “nimble organization outside of government for ongoing and long-term monitoring, research and policy development” around the issue. It also called for a legal requirement that all digital producers and disseminators of content identify themselves and their beneficial owners clearly on their platforms.

But we, as citizens, also have an important role to play. If only we could regard the triage of online content as something we do as routinely as separating the plastics from the paper for recycling.

It’s not going to be easy. A recent study published in the journal Intelligence linked susceptibility to misinformation to cognitive ability — something that wanes as we get older. In a December 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, 23 per cent of respondents said they had shared misinformation online, either deliberately or unwittingly.

Political scientist Thierry Giasson, the lead researcher at the Research Group on Political Communication at Université Laval, recently convened experts on media education at a conference in Montreal. The goal was to answer some key questions about news literacy, media education and citizenship, and ultimately to produce a white paper for the Quebec government on expanding media literacy into the curriculum as a stand-alone area of instruction. The Canadian experts brought together for the conference hope to create a network that is focused on the issue.

Giasson points to the “30 seconds” campaign by the Fédération Professionnelle des Journalistes du Québec, which urges people to take 30 seconds to read a piece of online content before sharing it. “Look at the source: Where is this coming from? Usually a source is clearly identified. Is it a legitimate news organization?” Giasson says.

MediaSmarts has developed a range of resources for the public and for educators on authenticating information online. Says Hill, “Check the original source. Don’t assume it’s true because a lot of people shared it, or it’s going viral on social media.”

Plenty of us feel indignant when we get the calls from the telephone scam artists claiming to work for the bank or Windows or the Canada Revenue Agency. How dare they try to pull one over on me! But we’re not angry or smart enough yet about the foreign and domestic players who are trying to distort our democratic process.

Our New Year’s resolution as citizens should be to declare ourselves the first line of defence against the weaponization of lies.

Information is being used as a weapon … against our sense of trust in institutions.

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“ Conservative Party has a clear lead over the Liberal Party just 8 months out from the election “


February 15, 2019


The latest National Campaign Research Poll conducted among 1,590 Canadians revealed that the Conservatives (CPC) held a clear lead (37%) over the Liberals (LPC, 32%), while the New Democratic Party of Canada’s (NDP) fortunes continue their decline with the party remaining a distant third (14%). Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada doesn’t appear to be having a noticeable impact on the CPC.


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February 16, 2019 11:58 am

Roy Green: Are the federal Liberals on a collision course again?

Roy Green By Roy Green Host, Corus Radio Network  

As the days pass since the initial Globe and Mail story of alleged PMO interference with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has since resigned from the federal cabinet, the iceberg metaphor increasingly appears justifiable.

READ MORE: Jody Wilson-Raybould became thorn in Liberals’ side before SNC-Lavalin case

The Liberal party in general — and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular — have failed to skillfully navigate the growing threat of a possible and lurking national scandal. A scandal with perhaps sufficient punch to preclude a repeat of any 2015 federal election success.

#LetJodySpeak is the demand from the Twittersphere.

You know what this is about.  It’s about Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who, so far, continues to decline to publicly address media allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office was directly exerting pressure on the former attorney general to persuade federal prosecutors to disengage from beginning a criminal trial of Montreal-based engineering giant and Quebec legacy corporation SNC-Lavalin.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould declares solicitor-client privilege precludes her from publicly confirming or refuting alleged PMO interference.  Mr. Trudeau, it has been repeatedly stated, can free Wilson-Raybould from such restrictions. Hence #LetJodySpeak.

The prime minister has repeatedly delivered statements which only fuel demand for Ms. Wilson-Raybould to be heard.  Trudeau has accused his former attorney general and minister of justice of being inconsistent and claims that her resignation from cabinet did not mirror conversations they had.

Trudeau flatly denied any personal interference, telling reporters, “In terms of giving any direction, she (Wilson-Raybould) asked me if I would do that and I said, ‘No, absolutely not. It’s your decision to make.'”

READ MORE: Trudeau says report his office pressed former justice minister to drop SNC-Lavalin prosecution ‘false’

So why, then, was Wilson-Raybould removed from her federal justice and law enforcement portfolios?

Unnamed Liberals have engaged in sniping.  Jody Wilson-Raybould was not a team player, they complain.  Everything had to be about Jody, they suggest.

Today the prime minister tried again, assuring Canadians it was Scott Brison’s resignation from cabinet and government that caused Trudeau to “move things around.” Had Mr. Brison not unexpectedly chosen to leave politics, he said, Jody Wilson-Raybould would today be attorney general.

How does that even begin to make sense?  How does it make sense that the parliamentary Justice Committee, dominated by Liberal MPs, would refuse to call either Jody Wilson-Raybould or Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, to testify as it reviews claims of PMO interference?

It makes sense only if the objective is to project insincerity.  Mission accomplished.

That SNC-Lavalin engaged in multi-year lobbying of the Trudeau government, including numerous meetings with senior members of the PMO, to change Canada’s criminal code is on the record. What the engineering firm wanted — and eventually obtained in an omnibus budget bill — was for deferred prosecution agreements to be introduced into Canadian law.

DPAs are usually agreements on sentencing arrived at by prosecutors and corporations facing stiff punishment if found guilty following a criminal trial.

WATCH: Reaction to SNC-Lavalin interference allegations

PM denies SNC-Lavalin interference allegations

Were SNC-Lavalin to be found guilty of charges of offering $48 million in bribes to Libyan government officials, as well as engaging in an additional $130 million of fraudulent activity toward Libyan organizations, the company would have been staring at a 10-year ban on obtaining contracts from the federal government of Canada.

Perhaps the very survival of the company was at stake.

So here we are, just over a week since allegations of PMO interference with the former attorney general surfaced.

Let’s describe the allegations as the 10 per cent of the iceberg which is visible.  What has been offered by the prime minister and his Liberal party increases suspicion that the 90 per cent of the iceberg, which remains out of view, may indeed scrape the hull of the Liberal ship. How much damage it may do we don’t yet know.

We do know nothing is unsinkable, a point underscored by a fairly recent Ottawa/Quebec scandal: Sponsorgate. Remember?

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