The final statement in Jerry Dias’s column, “If journalism is essential to democracy, and it is, it’s time to go to the best Canadian solution we can find.” The answer to this question is obviously ‘yes,’ provided that one is referring to the print media.
Print media is the source of fact-checked, edited news and articles, brought to us by professional journalists, professionals who have studied journalism in all of its facets, including an ethical commitment to truth.
On the other hand, the contributions to social media are often a source of utter lies, lies defined in certain powerful circles as ‘alternative facts.’ These lies then can be repeated time and time again on social media at little cost to the originator. For a country to have a healthy democracy the print media needs to be acknowledged as an absolute pillar of democracy. The barons of social media platforms need to do much better in disallowing or, at least, identifying, fake news and alternative facts.
Accordingly, our federal government must be more assertive in taxing Facebook and Google, with the intention of using this stream of income to enrich and to ensure the survival of Canada’s print media.
Her words on Friday, born of exasperation, described it as having a “gun to my head” and being handed “a ransom demand” for her kidnapped child.
The evidence from Westphal and his team is the only expected expert testimony directly supporting Minassian’s mental state defence.
“All of Mr. Minassian’s eggs are in this particular basket,” Molloy said in her ruling.
After all, Minassian has admitted he purposely rented a van on April 23, 2018, and drove it down a busy sidewalk with the planned purpose of killing as many people as he could.
Because Westphal is in the United States and the trial is being held online due to COVID-19, Molloy cannot do what she has done before, which is send police to corral a witness and bring them to court, where refusal to testify could lead to imprisonment.
“The devastation wrought by Mr. Minassian cannot be overstated. However, he is entitled to a fair trial in our courts, and to call a defence supported by evidence. That evidence exists, but is in the control of Dr. Westphal,” she concluded.
Molloy’s words on not naming killers rekindles the debate over what to do in the wake of violence that was raised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the Nova Scotia rampage.
In Trudeau’s first public address after the Nova Scotia mass shooting during which 22 people were killed in April, he asked that the killer’s identity not be included in media coverage of the tragedy.
“I want to ask the media to avoid mentioning the name and showing the picture of the person involved,” he said as part of his prepared remarks. “Do not give him the gift of infamy. Let us instead focus all our intention and attention on the lives we lost and the families and friends who grieve.”
Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp says harassment and even threats of violence have been part of her job since being elected in 2018.
“I’m pretty tough, but the constant barrage of abuse that some find amusing has affected my psychology,” the mayor said in an interview last week.
Earlier this month, a 57-year-old Port Rowan man was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm to Chopp.
Dana Robert Dargie was placed on house arrest for 30 days and put on probation for 18 months, during which he is banned from communicating with or going near the mayor. He also can’t go to the municipal building or attend any Norfolk council meetings. And he was directed to get counselling for anger management.
“It’s my understanding that he was warned once to stop and he didn’t,” Chopp said of Dargie.
But Dargie is just one of many people who lash out on social media against the mayor, who has faced controversy over council’s decisions to cut services and staff, among other things.
At a Norfolk council meeting last Tuesday, the mayor was accused by her council colleagues of using bullying tactics and intimidation as the politicians aired their feelings and grievances. Chopp refused to participate in the meeting, gathering her things and leaving.
Along with emails and negative online comments, Chopp is mocked through a parody account on Twitter, which often compares her to U.S. President Donald Trump. She said a members-only Facebook site with 3,000 members seems to have been formed specifically to discuss and denigrate her work and that of Norfolk CAO Jason Burgess, who is the municipality’s fifth CAO in just over a year.
She said she regularly receives inappropriate emails, including some from a “dirty old man,” who has sent dozens of messages, including half-naked photos of himself.
“I never used to believe in blocking people but that has changed in recent times. Social media has become too out of control, too offensive, too damaging and too harassing.”
And that harassment has extended to her family.
Chopp said her parents’ Hamilton-area farm was visited last year by bylaw officers looking for illegal cannabis.
“They realized they had been sent on a wild goose chase the second they stepped onto the farm but said they had so many phone calls and emails telling them to check it out that they finally went.”
A spokesperson for the City of Hamilton confirmed bylaw officers visited the farm and found no violations.
Chopp said that incident is still under investigation and included a “22-page manifesto” from someone named “Harry Smith,” who mailed his allegations to major media organizations in Canada and to Chopp’s employer, Air Canada, where she works as a pilot. The “manifesto” said the mayor is a narcissistic dictator and psychopath, who owns her own plane and runs a marijuana business.
“I think there’s a reason why women, in particular, don’t want to get involved in politics,” she said. “I can give you a list of more than a dozen men I’m allegedly sleeping with. And, if they don’t get off on that one, they call me a lesbian.”
Chopp said she has pondered taking civil action against some of the harassers as the abuse intensifies
She said she hopes Dargie’s conviction will stop others.
“But I don’t think it will,” she said. “Social media has taken on a life of its own and the facts don’t seem to matter.
“Ignoring the keyboard warriors is difficult but I will do my best to soldier on.”
France is caught in a row over the right to film police officers in the course of their duty. It is a controversy that has brought demonstrators on to the streets. A new law on the Security of France goes to a final vote on Tuesday. The Bill with a controversial amendment has been passed for a first time by the National Assembly by a margin in 146 to 24. Article 24 concerns the right to film the police. It raises fears and concerns among many media here in France about the right to report and inform.
This evening with our panel we discuss the issues. Police officers have a tough job. But freedom to report is a foundation of democracy
Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.
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