What ever happened to cracking down on misinformation online to ensure we had a clean and fair election?
I mean it was only a few months ago that Trudeau’s Minister of Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, was warning about the dangers of people getting the wrong information on social media – as reported by CBC only last January.
“These platforms have been manipulated to spread disinformation and create confusion, which has the potential to disengage people in the democratic process. We are concerned about the risk online manipulation poses to the integrity of our election,” said Gould.
And of course when she was appointed to her role in January 2017, the PM made clear that he wanted his minister to be open and honest.
“We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards,” Trudeau’s mandate letter to Gould reads.
So why then is Gould spreading outright lies on Twitter?
That may seem like strong language, it would definitely be ruled unparliamentary, but make no mistake, as I will show you, Gould is lying.
Ok, so looking at what Gould tweeted, she says that she can show Scheer & Ford are working together. I doubt they are but that isn’t the lie. The lie comes in the next line.
“As Ford defunds our public education system,” Gould writes.
Now how can I prove that this part of her tweet is a lie? How?Because governments of all stripes put out these documents called budgets that are debated and passed by the legislature. These documents detail what government spending will be.
What do the budget documents say?
According to the last budget of the Wynne Liberals, they planned to spend $28.2 billion in the total education spend for 2018-19 fiscal year. The Ford PC government meanwhile boosted that fiscal year spend to $30.7 billion as an interim measure and the fiscal plan for 2019-20 is for a spend of $31.5 billion.
You can see the screenshot below and can read the documents for yourself here for the 2018 budget (page 223 of the budget, page 247 of the PDF) and here for the 2019 budget (page 299 of the budget, page 338 of the PDF.)
On no planet is an increase from $28 billion to $31 billion in spending a cut to education and nor can you claim, as Minister Gould did, that the government of the day is defunding public education.
That is nothing short of a lie.
And this from the woman who is supposed to defend us all from misinformation in the election campaign!
Do you trust her to do that?
I get that political parties will spin or exaggerate on what their opponents stand for. I understand that you put what your opponent says or does in the worst possible light.
That is part of politics, it is how the game is played.
But to say that Doug Ford is defunding public education is utterly and completely false.
Gould not alone is spreading false information.
Then again, so is the claim by Gould’s cabinet minister Bill Morneau.
Trudeau’s Minister of Finance said in a tweet last week that Ford was cutting health spending.
That is how Morneau reacted to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pledging to keep funding the health and social transfer payments and it too was an utter lie.
” Canadians have seen this before. Doug Ford said he wouldn’t cut healthcare, then he did,” Morneau tweeted.
In the same budget documents that I linked to above you can see that the health spending commitment grew from $61.2 billion in the last Liberal budget to $63.5 billion under the Ford PCs.
Again, in no world is that a cut, in fact it is above inflation even.
Ford government is changing, not cutting.
Is the Ford government changing how health care and education is delivered? Absolutely.
As is the right of any government elected on that mandate.
Those are separate debates from spending cuts or defunding of the system – which is not happening.
The Liberals can’t promise to fine social media companies for “fake news” and then spread that very thing on Twitter and Facebook.
Facts matter, or at least they should, in an election campaign. Some news organizations have spent huge amounts of money fact checking Donald Trump but ignore this sort of thing. Others run “baloney meters” or fact checking stories on the election.
They ignore this.
The Liberals can attack Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives any way they want but they can’t outright lie.
That’s what this amounts to and that is why I am calling it out.