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Politics Briefing: Canadian Armed Forces has failed to stamp out sexual misconduct: Arbour – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

The Canadian Armed Forces has failed to make the changes needed to stamp out sexual misconduct and should move all criminal sexual offences to the civilian justice system, finds a new report that in part repeats past recommendations the federal government had ignored.

The damning report was released Monday and authored by former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour. It is the third report in seven years to give the government similar recommendations to address misogyny in the military.

All three were written by former justices of the top court. Monday’s report calls for urgent and profound changes to how the Forces operate in order to “create an even and safe playing field for women in the profession of arms.”

Parliamentary reporter Marieke Walsh reports here.

BREAKING – The federal government is outlining new firearms legislation later this afternoon. Preview here. Please check The Globe and Mail for details.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

SUPREME COURT BACKS VICTIMS IN 34 CONSECUTIVE SEX-ASSAULT CASES – The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled against accused people in 34 sexual-assault cases in a row, stretching back more than four years, making it more difficult to overturn such convictions on appeal as the cases pour in during the Me Too era. Story here.

INTEREST RATE HIKE COMING FROM BANK OF CANADA – The Bank of Canada is expected to announce another oversized interest rate increase this week, part of its effort to push Canadian borrowing costs rapidly higher in the hope of slowing the pace of consumer price growth. Story here.

LEGAULT ANNOUNCES POLICY PRIORITY FOR FALL ELECTION – Quebec Premier François Legault, at a policy convention of his Coalition Avenir Québec, announces a key issue he will be pressing in this fall’s provincial election, one that will require a response from Ottawa. Story here from The Montreal Gazette.

CANADA’S PUBLIC SERVICE BEING DESTROYED: FORMER PRIVY COUNCIL CLERK – A lack of trust between politicians and senior levels of the public service, and a Prime Minister’s Office that calls all the shots, is “destroying” Canada’s public service, warns a former clerk of the Privy Council. Story here from Policy Options.

MORE EXPECTED FROM POPE: GOVERNOR-GENERAL – Indigenous communities are “expecting more” from Pope Francis when he visits Canada in July, says Governo-General Mary Simon — but she said she’s uncertain if he’ll deliver. Story here from CBC.

SAJJAN PROMISES HELP FOR VICTIMS OF RUSSIAN SEXUAL ASSAULT – International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan says he told Canadian officials in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to ensure that women sexually assaulted by Russian troops get the help they need – including access to abortions if they wish. Story here.

ONTARIO ELECTION – Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is defending his decision to not visit Ottawa sooner following a deadly storm that has left thousands of people in the area without power for nine days. Story here. Meanwhile, parties made final push on last weekend of campaign before June 2. Story here.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Scott Aitchison is campaigning across Ontario this week. Roman Baber is holding a virtual event. Leslyn Lewis is in Gander in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Pierre Poilievre is in Winnipeg. No word on the campaigning whereabouts of Patrick Brown and Jean Charest.

BROWN BACKS OFF ON “DINOSAURS” LABEL ON SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES – Federal Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown says calling social conservatives “dinosaurs” in a book he wrote about his time in Ontario politics was “the wrong terminology” Story here.

POILIEVRE MUM ON BILL 96 Ontario MP Pierre Poilievre is the only candidate in the Conservative leadership race to stay mum on Quebec’s controversial new language law, Bill 96. Story here. Meanwhile, The National Post reports here that Mr. Poilievre’s polling numbers headed “in a negative direction.”

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House of Commons is sitting again Monday after a week’s break, and will continue to do so, Monday to Friday, through June. 23. Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, May. 30, accessible here.

COMMITTEE MEETINGS – House of Commons committee meetings Monday include the standing committee on national defence holding a hearing on rising domestic operational deployments and challenges for the Canadian Armed Forces, with witnesses that include the Chief of Staff, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Canadian Armed Forces. Details, including the video link, here.

CHANGE OF NAVAL COMMAND – In Halifax, a Change of Command ceremony will be held for the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy as authority is transferred from Vice-Admiral Craig Baines to Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee. General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff will preside over the ceremony.

TOURING THE SENATE BUILDING – Public tours of the Senate of Canada building, a former train station and government conference centre in the heart of Ottawa, have resumed. Details here.

THE DECIBEL

On Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Globe columnist Marcus Gee talks about the relaxation that birding provides more since the pandemic started. He has also been honing his skills at identifying birds by song. This led him to ask: Why do birds sing at all? The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In Ottawa, the Prime Minister held private meetings and was scheduled to hold a news conference on firearms legislation with several ministers including Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Justice Minister David Lametti and Women’s Minister Marci Ien. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to speak with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

LEADERS

No schedule released for party leaders.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Canada’s real gun violence problem:There is no one magic bullet that can make gun crime disappear. But Canada has done a few things right, and the way forward includes more of the same: smart gun control that screens owners while respecting law-abiding hunters; a focus on the flow of smuggled and illegal guns; criminal laws that target gun crime; and a society with a strong economy, education system and social safety net, to minimize the incentive to turn to crime.”

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on how Jason Kenney didn’t learn the lessons that Doug Ford has: Critics of conservative premiers often lump them all together in the same category. But if there ever was a moment that showed how different they can be, it could be this spring – as the clearly contrasting fates of Doug Ford and Jason Kenney play out. Mr. Ford, the anti-establishment municipal politician who has become a more middling conservative, is likely to be re-elected as premier. The detail and policy-oriented Mr. Kenney – who wears his true-blue conservatism on his sleeve – will resign in the months ahead after a bruising leadership review result last week.”

Marcus Gee (The Globe and Mail) on a disappointing election in Ontario: Ontario votes in a provincial election on Thursday and the tension is… barely palpable. This campaign was less than a barnburner. The three major-party leaders traded predictable gibes about predictable issues and rolled out the usual array of unrealistic, unaffordable promises. Though anything can happen on election night, opinion polls suggest that the Progressive Conservatives will coast to re-election and Doug Ford will serve a second term as premier.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why the future of the Ontario Liberals is at stake on June 2: “We can safely predict that the Liberal Party will improve its standing in the Ontario Legislature after the June 2 election. But that may not save its leader, Steven Del Duca. And the party itself could be in serious trouble.”

David McLaughlin (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how the trust that binds Canada together is cracking: “Canada’s governments and leaders will need to listen to and learn from Canadians in the months and years ahead to maintain our strong democratic traditions and public institutions. Our public servants tally among the best in the world. They have a big stake in getting this right. Listening and learning from their front-line experiences with citizens and inside experiences with politicians would be smart.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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St. John's MP 'grateful' for political panic buttons amid rising safety concerns – CBC.ca

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St. John’s East MP Joanne Thompson is one of several politicians who have used a panic button due to personal safety concerns. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

A federal MP from Newfoundland and Labrador says she’s grateful she carries a government-issued panic button as threats and harassment directed at politicians rises in Canada.

St. John’s East MP Joanne Thompson is one of several members who have used the buttons, also called mobile duress alarms, in recent months. The buttons alert the Parliamentary Protective Service or local police of a safety concern when pressed.

While Thompson said she hasn’t had to use the button while working in St. John’s, she often carries it while in Ottawa.

“Early in the fall, not long after the election, I did have a worrying encounter with a constituent in the riding. And it was at that point I did see the panic button and I was quite grateful for that,” Thompson told CBC News Thursday. 

“I was in Ottawa was when I used it the most often. You know, walking to work in the dark, returning in the dark. It was an extra precaution, so I’m grateful for that.”

Thompson said most of her concerns come from emails and social media, saying the rhetoric of others has intensified in recent months. Other MPs have shared stories of harassment, death threats and dangerous messages that caused them to use a panic button.

When asked about how safe she feels in her job, Thompson said she doesn’t allow herself to think that way.

“I don’t engage in back and forth on social media … and I don’t want to really travel the road where I begin to question my safety,” she said. “The people who are sending those messages, I think that’s what they want.”

Police panic buttons like these are used to alert law enforcement when politicians feel they are in imminent danger. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Scott Matthews, an associate professor of Political Science at Memorial University, says increased use of the panic buttons is likely a response to how people are feeling about the current state of Canadian politics as tension rises between parties.

“People who like one party or feel close to one of the parties tend to feel very far away from and very negatively toward the other parties. This is especially the case between Liberals and Conservatives or between New Democrats and Conservatives. They really dislike each other in a way that isn’t the case in the past,” Matthews told CBC News.

Matthews says he’s seen that trend go through waves in recent decades, but adds the politics of COVID-19 have amplified discord in the short-term.

He believes it could continue when it comes to future elections, especially in areas where races are more contentious.

Even if we disagree on policy, there’s a lot that we have in common. A lot that we share.​​​​​– Scott Matthews

Asked about what could be done to tackle the overarching issue of rising threats, Thompson said she believes it begins in the classroom.

“We have to create a shift in how we access news, how we question sources…and also how we speak to each other,” she said. “Respect matters, and personal and public safety matters. How we conduct ourselves has a significant role to play in achieving that.”

MUN associate professor Scott Matthews says panic buttons aren’t a true solution to the problem of increased threats in the political landscape. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Matthews says things can be done by the politicians at the centre of the issue, especially regarding the use of hateful rhetoric.

It’s one thing to disagree, he said, but it’s another to suggest that disagreement creates enemies in politics.

“Panic buttons, and more generally kind of securing our political system against conflict, is not any kind of solution. That’s the sign of a problem, in fact,” he said. 

“What we kind of need to be doing is finding ways to reduce the heated rhetoric and to depolarize our political system.… Even if we disagree on policy, there’s a lot that we have in common. A lot that we share.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Nightmare Politics and Sticky Science of Hacking the Climate – Canada's National Observer

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This story was originally published by Wired and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration

One way to fight climate change may be to … do more climate change. “Geoengineering” is a broad term encompassing distinct techniques for hacking the climate, split into two main groups: There’s carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which could mean sucking carbon out of the atmosphere with machines, or simply encouraging more vegetation to grow. And there’s solar radiation management (SRM), which might include brightening clouds or spraying aerosols in the atmosphere to bounce the sun’s energy back into space.

These two methods are sort of like different approaches to battling a seasonal flu.

Carbon removal is like taking an antiviral, which helps your immune system banish the virus from your body; deleting carbon from the atmosphere similarly targets the root cause of the climate change problem. On the other hand, solar radiation management is more like taking an aspirin to reduce the fever the flu is causing. It doesn’t obliterate the problem-causing agent, and only treats symptoms.

Each technique comes with huge risks—be they political or planetary, obvious or hidden—that scientists are just beginning to explore. But they’re worth thinking about now, because some scientists are taking geoengineering seriously and urging more studies to consider it as a way to bring down global temperatures while governments tackle decarbonizing the world economy.

Risks All the Way Down

Let’s take solar radiation management first, specifically stratospheric aerosol injection, or SAI. The idea is to introduce sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, which would generate aerosols that would cool the planet by wrapping around it like an energy-reflecting blanket. (Volcanic plumes do the same thing naturally.) At least theoretically, SAI would immediately bring down temperatures, exposing fewer people, animals, and plants (including crops) to heat stress.

You might think you’d need vast squadrons of planes to spray every inch of the sky, but the atmosphere actually does this dispersal itself. The neat thing about the stratosphere is that you can inject it with something—let’s say pink glitter—and it’ll spread all over the world, turning the skies shiny and rosy. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

The nightmare politics and sticky science of hacking the climate. #ClimateChange #Geoengineering

But who would be desperate enough to take this chance? It probably depends on where people live. How badly a region is suffering from climate change—and is projected to suffer in the future—will define its politics regarding geoengineering. As world governments drag their feet on reducing emissions, some nations might grow desperate to try SAI as a stop-gap measure.

“It’s in general called ‘the thermostat problem,’ the problem that countries actually have different preferences over where the hypothetical global thermostat would be set,” says Duke University political scientist Tyler Felgenhauer, who studies the risks of SAI.

Climate risks like supercharged hurricanes, flooding, and sea-level rise have disproportionately affected coastal nations. “There are indications that people, for example, in small island states, which are more threatened by climate change, might be more willing to accept risks from SAI,” says Christine Merk, deputy director of the Research Center Global Commons and Climate Policy at the Kiel Institute, who researches public perceptions of geoengineering. And that might mean they are willing to take risks with consequences that may be borne elsewhere. “What do you weigh higher: the lives of people threatened by climate change, or the lives threatened by SAI?” she asks. “That’s in the end a moral judgment.”

How governments make that judgment will likely have to do with whether citizens and their legislators are convinced there is a climate emergency. “If you’re afraid of the breakdown of the climate system, you might accept this fix,” says Merck.

And, says Janos Pasztor, executive director of the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative, leaders will have to be convinced that taking drastic but risky action is better than doing nothing. “You cannot look at the risks of [solar radiation management] in isolation—you have to look at the risk of doing versus not doing, and then compare which world is going to be better or worse,” he says.

Altering the climate will affect every nation on Earth. We all share one atmosphere. So who gets to make such a momentous decision? “One has to include the key different stakeholders that will be impacted in different ways. It is very easy to say this—it’s extremely difficult to do it,” Pasztor says. “But that’s what we need to do. And so the international community needs to start serious conversations about how one actually does that.”

Yet it’s hard to imagine (ideally) getting buy-in from all the nations of the world, much less the competing political and cultural factions within those nations. The United Nations tried in 2019 with a resolution calling for more research of geoengineering, but the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil blocked it. Even within a single country, this idea can be contentious. For example, last year Sweden rejected a small-scale test of stratospheric aerosols. It is, perhaps alarmingly, easier to imagine a rogue state from going it alone, or an eccentric billionaire taking it upon themselves.

And if getting political consensus before deployment might be difficult, imagine what would happen afterward if things go wrong. Consider a scenario in which the world somehow agrees on an SAI program, and cooperates on rolling it out. All seems to be going smoothly, until a hurricane or drought strikes a particular country, whose political leadership blames it on geoengineering. “The problem is that as you ramp up a program, there might be some climate catastrophe somewhere in the world that people may blame on solar geoengineering, when in fact it’s actually just climate change,” says Felgenhauer. “Those first few years, it might be hard to distinguish between: Well, was that event climate change, or was that due to the solar geoengineering gone poorly?”

Unintended Consequences

While solar geoengineering research is still preliminary, already there are hints that it might lead to some particularly strange and unexpected side effects. A paper published in April in the journal Nature Communications concluded that the global cooling caused by SAI might actually expose more people to malaria. (Hotter conditions make it harder for mosquitoes to survive and transmit the malaria parasite to humans.)

“Most of the focus has been on: Would it work? Do we have the technology to do it? Do we think we could actually bring down temperatures worldwide?” says Georgetown University global change biologist Colin Carlson, lead author of the study. “There’s been a lot less focus on the kind of questions that we’re asking in this study, which is: OK, well, how would this affect people?”

Malaria transmission won’t go up or down uniformly across the planet as temperatures rise, according to the researchers’ modeling. They found that cooling caused by geoengineering would put millions of additional people in West Africa at risk of contracting malaria, but in East Africa, it would actually shorten the transmission season, putting fewer people at risk. “All of these kinds of generalizations and rules of thumb that we use, all that sort of mental math that’s like, ‘OK, geoengineering will probably save lives’—that may not work at a global scale, and it definitely doesn’t work for a lot of countries,” says Carlson. “What people want to do with the health impacts of this is to say, ‘Well, it probably won’t be that bad.’ I’m not sure the data is going to come out saying that.”

In a separate study, Carlson posited a different X-factor: The possibility that geoengineering might reduce monsoon rainfall in South Asia. That would make less water available for crops and people. Monsoons also dilute the concentration of the bacteria that causes cholera, which is found in drinking water—if the storms are weaker, more people might get sick.

Let’s imagine that something goes wrong enough that world leaders pull the plug on their geoengineering program, or there’s a global recession or a world war, and it becomes impossible to fly the planes. The spraying suddenly stops. What happens next?

Any climate problems that had been suppressed would resurge, because, like an aspirin, SRM only brings down the fever—it doesn’t eliminate the underlying malady. One 2018 modeling study found that the aerosols would persist in the atmosphere for a year or two after abruptly stopping their distribution. After that, surface temperatures would rise almost a degree Celsius each decade. (For reference, the Paris Climate agreement is designed to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming since the dawn of the Industrial Age.)

Plant and animal species have adapted to less severe temperature swings throughout Earth’s history, but nothing like this. The rapid heat rise would kill people and crops, and damage oceans. Particularly sensitive species, like amphibians, wouldn’t stand a chance. “Obviously, if you had a strong SRM program ongoing and then it suddenly stopped,” says Felgenhauer, “that would be catastrophic environmentally.”

Sequestration Questions

Surely carbon removal would be a less controversial method of geoengineering, right? It seems inherently less risky to filter carbon out of the atmosphere with machines or, even better, restore forests to sequester carbon the natural way. But as it turns out, there are plenty of ways this, too, can go wrong.

The right way to use trees to capture carbon is to encourage the regrowth of whole ecosystems, which simultaneously addresses the biodiversity crisis. The wrong way is to grow a monoculture of trees of a single species, which is the approach often used by carbon credit programs. These programs have some allure: They raise money from corporations, which can then boast to the public how much carbon they’re capturing. But tree farms are nowhere near as efficient at capturing carbon as an intact forest, and they don’t save other species in the process. “A lot of the time, it’s assumed that these kinds of biology-based carbon-removal techniques will automatically create co-benefits, and that’s not true at all,” says Cardiff University social psychologist Emily Cox, who studies public attitudes toward carbon removal. “They have the potential for co-benefits, but the co-benefits need to be very, very carefully managed.”

And exactly how much carbon they remove can vary quite a bit based on variables like the health of the vegetation. “One of the major risks of some of these biology-based proposals is that an assumption gets made that you can easily equate X number of trees to X million tons of carbon without actually looking at what kinds of trees they are, and where they’re being planted,” says Cox. The amount of captured carbon might end up being negligible. “You have a lot of trees, which is brilliant. You haven’t necessarily got the climate benefits.”

Another technique known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS, also relies on a monocrop, usually fast-growing grasses. In this case, the vegetation is burned to produce energy, and the resulting emissions are sequestered underground. But it also comes with its own set of dubious side effects—it would require vast tracts of crops, and huge amounts of water, to make a dent in atmospheric carbon concentrations: A paper that published last month found that in the US alone, scaling up BECCS would expose 130 million Americans to water stress by 2100.

But in a global climate gone bonkers, there are even risks to restoring forests to their former glory, because that glory is increasingly perilous. Supercharged wildfires are now obliterating forests, instead of gently resetting ecosystems to make way for new growth. If you spend a lot of time and money restoring one of these forests to sequester carbon, and then it burns, all of that carbon goes right back into the atmosphere. Or if a given country’s political regime changes, and goes from supporting reforestation to deforestation, you’d have the same problem. Just look at what’s happening in the Amazon.

“I would argue that many proposals for land-based removals could be risky,” says Cox. “Because you’ve got a very, very high risk that either the carbon removal doesn’t happen in the first place, or that it happens, but then in 10 years’ time is reversed.”

The Dreaded “Moral Hazard”

Researchers have developed a way to mimic natural carbon sequestration with a technique called direct air capture, or DAC. These machines suck in air, pass it over membranes to remove the carbon dioxide, and pump it underground, locking it away forever. The tide may be shifting towards DAC in the US. Last month, the Biden administration threw in $3.5 billion to back direct air capture. (That comes five years after a California congressman introduced a bill that would fund the research of geoengineering, but it never went anywhere.)

But this, too, faces two big issues. The first is that DAC exists at nowhere near the scale needed to make a dent in excess atmospheric carbon. One plant that came online in Iceland last year is only capturing the equivalent emissions of 870 cars. A 2021 study calculated that it would take an investment of 1 to 2 percent of global gross domestic product to capture 2.3 gigatons of CO2 a year by 2050—and that’s only a fraction of current annual emissions, which are around 40 gigatons. “There is the risk that we cannot scale and deploy fast enough,” says Benjamin Sovacool, who studies the risks of geoengineering at Aarhus University in Denmark. “It’s looking like the rate at which we’d have to deploy these is unlike any previous energy transition we’ve had, because the scale is so immense.”

The second issue is one of “moral hazard,” or the temptation to lean on DAC as a crutch, instead of doing what’s necessary: dramatically slashing greenhouse gas emissions. If a nation’s leaders anticipate being able to remove emissions via DAC, they don’t need to worry about cutting those emissions in the first place. It’s like waiting for a miracle antiviral—except the requisite dose doesn’t yet exist.

There’s a chance that the extreme and desperate nature of geoengineering might do the opposite—instead of encouraging complacency or a reliance on last-minute technology fixes, it may alarm the public enough that they’ll start to treat climate change like an emergency. But, says Sovacool, “politicians might be even more susceptible to the moral hazard, because they’re only thinking in the present terms. They’ll gladly push as much to future generations as they can.”

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Opinion: The online abuse and harassment of women in politics must stop – The Globe and Mail

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Heidi Tworek is a Canada Research Chair and associate professor in international history and public policy at the University of British Columbia.

Many Canadians believe we have a better track record on women’s participation in politics than the facts warrant. A record number of women became MPs after the 2019 and 2021 federal elections – that’s good news. But the increase was minimal: from 98 women in 2019 to 103 women out of 338 MPs in 2021 – hardly worth boasting about.

Currently, only 30.5 per cent of MPs are female, even though just more than 50 per cent of Canadians are women. As of May, 2022, Canada ranks 59th in the world for female representation in Parliament, below countries such as Cameroon and Chile, Spain and Senegal.

As a collective, MPs don’t reflect the Canadian population that they are elected to serve. That needs to change.

Scholars and journalists have identified many long-standing reasons for the gender imbalance, such as parental-leave policies and the tendency to nominate women in less winnable ridings. But another problem is newer, getting worse and needs our immediate attention: online abuse and harassment of female political candidates.

In 2019, I was part of a team that examined online abuse of all political candidates during the federal election. We developed a machine-learning model that classified all the tweets at political candidates as positive, neutral or low/medium/high negativity. By negativity, we meant something that attacked candidates for their identity, not robust discussion around policies.

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, our research found only 7 per cent of tweets were positive, while 16 per cent were abusive and around 40 per cent negative.

We also interviewed 31 candidates and campaign staff to understand how online abuse affected campaigning. One NDP MP, Jenny Kwan, noted that abuse and misinformation often intertwine, telling us that “misinformation is often the first step. Then it can escalate to an attempt to generate negativity – and hatred – towards certain groups of people.”

Former MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes described how online abuse increased whenever she garnered greater public attention, particularly after she started to discuss her experiences of discrimination as a Black female politician.

Former leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May worried that harassment “leaves decent people out of the space because it’s so unpleasant to be in it.” Some candidates also expressed regret that they now had to use social media as a bulletin board rather than a space to engage with constituents.

Over all, we found that online abuse exacerbates distrust in politics and presents another barrier to political participation by people from underrepresented groups.

Unfortunately, surveys indicate the problem of online abuse is worsening and certain types of abuse are likelier to affect women than men.

In a 2021 survey, 39 per cent of female journalists and 32 per cent of male journalists said they experienced online harassment at least once a month, and 78 per cent of female journalists said that online harassment has increased in frequency over the past two years. Women were nearly twice as likely to receive sexualized messages or images and six times as likely to receive threats of rape or sexual assault. LGBTQ2+ people and those with multiple marginalized identities receive the most harassment.

What can be done?

Along with UBC research associate Chris Tenove, I published a report making a wide range of recommendations for how to address this situation.

First, candidates and campaign teams need to develop pro-active plans to manage harassment. Candidates should also communicate norms for productive online discourse to their own supporters to discourage them from abusing opponents.

Second, political parties should ensure that they provide training and resources to candidates that also address candidates’ diverse experiences and risks.

Third, social-media platforms need to improve their transparency and be more responsive to threats, particularly during elections.

Fourth, policy makers can create regulations that mandate transparency from platforms, push for more effective content moderation and provide support to groups addressing online abuse.

Finally, individual users can consider their own behaviour online and how their knee-jerk comments or retweets might be contributing to the problem. They can also think about how to support those who are experiencing abuse.

Canada has had female MPs for more than 100 years. Yet Switzerland, where women only gained the right to vote in 1971, comes closer to parity with 42.5 per cent female parliamentarians. If Parliament’s composition is ever going to reflect the Canadian population, we need to address the full range of issues keeping women from running and winning.

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