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Mandryk: Moe's use of social media to bypass criticism an unwelcome trend – Regina Leader-Post

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There’s been a concerted effort as the Oct. 26 vote nears to bypass media filters and move government messaging to social media forums.

One of the many optimistic posts on Premier Scott Moe’s Facebook and Twitter sites of late was that of a Pipeline News article proudly proclaiming that oil in Saskatchewan is back.

The tireless proponent of the oil and gas industry noted “Saskatchewan’s drilling rig fleet went back to work with a bang on Jan. 6 … a jump of 19 rigs compared to its last report on Jan. 3.”

“The map came alive all over the province, with clumps of rigs showing up throughout much of southeast Saskatchewan, at Shaunavon, north of Highway 16 near Lloydminster and, most curiously, in a string along the Alberta border from Alsask to Macklin,” Pipeline News reported.

“The net result was 54 per cent utilization rate, with 57 of 105 rigs working. That’s a better rate than Alberta, whose 45 per cent was made up of 165 of 366 rigs, or British Columbia, who had 18 of 40 rigs going. Manitoba had five of six rigs working, for a 83 per cent utilization rate.”

The story also noted that, nationally, there was a decline in the drilling fleet to 532 (as of last Dec. 10) from 549 in November and that those numbers were down from approximately 800 six years ago.

As a huge proponent of the oil and gas sector (you may recall the entire Saskatchewan Party cabinet attended the Weyburn Oil and Gas Show with now Alberta Premier Jason Kenney last year), it’s not exactly shocking to see Moe promote this very good news … even if it doesn’t perfectly fit the narrative that the oil and gas industry has totally collapsed under the weight of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax.

Success in the oil sector does mean more jobs and more government royalty revenue to pay for schools, hospitals and roads. For this, we should all be grateful.

But while Moe’s tweet was neither untoward nor shocking, it’s interesting to watch it as part of a government strategy. Clearly, there’s been a concerted effort as the Oct. 26 vote nears to bypass media filters and move government messaging to social media forums like Facebook and Twitter.

Consider that in the first seven days of 2020, Moe had already tweeted 29 times (not including retweets) about policy or general matters. By contrast, there were just six government news releases from executive council’s entire communications department at a time when we await government pronouncements on heady matters like its response to the Provincial Auditor’s report on the Brandt/CNIB project, expected new direction on environment policy or our supposed need for measures to make us more independent from Ottawa.

One obvious reason why Moe would prefer social media is that its easy, breezy nature makes it easier to convey his messages or brand as he sees fit, while conveniently bypassing the aforementioned media filter. This trend — especially the use of Moe’s Facebook page for speeches or policy statements — is untoward.

While perhaps seemingly harmless to some, it is a less than subtle way of avoiding critique at a time when media critique of government is already diminishing. (Along with the use of staff paid with taxpayer funds for the seemingly sole purpose of taping reporters’ scrums to produce partisan memes for Moe’s social media sites, this was clearly one of the less pleasing communication developments in 2019.)

And even when Moe’s message hasn’t necessarily been overtly partisan, social media’s simple ability to allow “likes” and partisan responses becomes a subtle and effective way of tilting the message in the Sask. Party’s favour. (For example, Moe’s posting of the Pipeline News to his site was filled with “likes” and comments crediting the premier for turnaround in drilling and blaming Trudeau and the carbon tax for the problem. Indirectly, yet still effectively, like-minded partisans convey his political message without Moe having to do it directly.)

Maybe it’s not quite as bad as the “war room” in neighbouring Alberta using taxpayers’ resources to discredit environmentalists with opposing government views.

But — even when it appears seemingly harmless — it’s still part of a problematic trend that can result in less government scrutiny.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post.

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Brock Media Clips for Friday, May 27 – The Brock News – Brock University

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Here’s a look at some of the media attention Brock University received recently.

Strategic voting in the provincial election: Labour Studies Professor Larry Savage spoke to CHML 900 about the impact strategic voting practices could have in the provincial election in Ontario. Savage also participated in seven interviews across CBC Radio stations in Ontario about the role that union endorsements are playing in the election.

Ontario parties pledge different approaches to clustering of cannabis shops: Associate Professor of Operations Research Michael Armstrong spoke to The Globe and Mail, MJBizDaily, Newstalk 610 CKTB and several other radio stations about potential changes that could come to Ontario’s retail cannabis policy as a result of the upcoming provincial election.

Should children be playing more?: Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Sandra Della Porta spoke to CHML 900 about the importance of allowing young children to play while not overloading their lives with structured activities.

Millions of dollars are flowing into US cricket. But is there a market for the sport?: Assistant Professor of Sport Management Michael Naraine spoke to The Guardian about whether the sport of cricket can establish itself in the United States. Naraine also spoke to Global News and Newstalk 610 CKTB about the NHL playoffs and developments in legalized sports gambling.

Local races tightening as campaign swings into full gear: Associate Professor of Political Science Livianna Tossutti spoke to the St. Catharines Standard about issues that could sway local races in Ontario’s provincial election.

Netflix confronts its employees: Professor of Business Ethics Paul Dunn spoke to Newstalk 610 CKTB about tension between Netflix and its employees, and the action the streaming company is taking to resolve it.

If you know of an appearance or story about a Brock faculty member, student, athlete or alumni, please drop us a line with a link to the story at universitycom@brocku.ca


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Police ID suspect after threat on social media against Bowmanville school – CBC.ca

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A suspect has been identified after a threat was posted on social media against Clarington Central Secondary High School in Bowmanville, Durham Regional Police say.

Police say the suspect is a male from outside the region. No information has been released about the nature of the threat.

Officers were present at the school east of Toronto on Friday to ensure the safety of students and staff.

By the afternoon, police said in a tweet that investigators determined there were no safety concerns.

The threat against the school was made Thursday night, police say.

The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.

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Police investigating threatening social media post captured near Pointe-Claire school – CTV News Montreal

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Montreal police were on site at John Rennie High School Thursday after threatening images were posted to social media, which may have featured a firearm.

The post included two images: the first showed what appeared to be the side of the school. The second image depicted a young man holding what appeared to be a firearm in an unknown location. 

Police say the post is related to a conflict between two people who have yet to be identified, and that they were likely going to meet at the school. The threats were not directed toward the school itself. 

Police got a call reporting the post at around 9:40 a.m.

Students remained in class while officers stationed themselves at the school. The board notified parents of the situation and asked them not to pick up their kids.  

School board officials said in an internal note to parents that “at no point were staff or students in danger.”

School officials decided to send students home in the early afternoon as officers continued their investigation. Some were bussed out of school property at around 1 p.m.

Police say their firearm division is trying to learn more about the threats. There have been no arrests.

In a statement released later in the day, the Lester B. Pearson School Board thanked the police for acting quickly.

“Today’s incident was extremely regrettable and troubling,” the board said.

“We are extremely relieved and thankful for the prompt and thorough response of law enforcement and the professional way our staff managed the situation.”

A school spokesperson confirmed classes would resume Friday morning. 

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