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Top Ford government minister's office under scrutiny over social media spending plan – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The office of a top cabinet minister within Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government is under scrutiny for allegedly using taxpayer resources to conduct Progressive Conservative party business — raising questions about a possible ethics breach by one of the premier’s key allies.

Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy’s government-funded office recently prepared a “social media advertising campaign” to increase the minister’s followers and likes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, by targeting the followers of “conservative and conservative-leaning accounts.”

The plan, developed by the minister’s communications team over the course of two months, was prepared on official Treasury Board Secretariat letterhead and aimed to provide “confidential advice to the minister” about paying to increase his social media presence.

Instead of using the Treasury Board budget to pay for the ad blitz, however, staff emailed the document to Bethlenfalvy’s riding association in Pickering-Uxbridge for approval and payment using donations made to the PC party. 

The social media strategy was circulated among a small group of people involved with the Pickering-Uxbridge riding association — including Bethlenfalvy’s personal email address — which was then sent to discuss whether party funds should be spent on the plan.

The email, obtained by CTV News Toronto, clearly shows the riding was prepared to finance the plan. 

“I will be making a short presentation to the board, followed by a vote. (Hopefully) to allot some funds each month to increase the minister’s social media presence, views and likes,” wrote the riding’s vice-president of communications. 

Multiple sources say when the riding association executive met on Jan. 27, Bethlenfalvy was “startled” by the document and immediately recognized that his staff had mixed party and government business. According to these sources, Bethlenfalvy then sought to destroy any copies of the document at the board meeting and have the topic struck from the agenda. 

“(Bethlenfalvy) realized very quickly that the memo should have never been shared with the riding association,” according to one source present at the meeting who spoke to CTV News Toronto on the condition of anonymity. 

“He said ‘this is not appropriate. We shouldn’t be talking about this.'”

Hard copies of the document were “torn in half” and thrown in the trash, according to those who were present, while others were later instructed by the riding association to delete the original email containing the digital version. 

By expending taxpayer resources to create a document for Bethlenfalvy’s riding association, the minister’s office could be in violation of the Public Service of Ontario Act, which governs ethical conduct of MPPs, ministers and their staff. 

The legislation reads a public servant who works in a minister’s office shall not do the following:

  • Engage in political activity in the workplace that is unrelated to the performance of a ministerial power, duty or function
  • Use government premises, equipment or supplies when engaging in political activity that is unrelated to the performance of a ministerial power, duty or function.

Bethlenfalvy issued a statement to CTV News Toronto suggesting that the social media strategy was a “draft memo” that was “proactively submitted” to the riding association “in error.” 

“I did not provide approval of this strategy,” Bethlenfalvy said in a statement. “As soon as I learned that it had been erroneously distributed to board members at a recent meeting, I stopped the meeting and took corrective action.”

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“I take this very seriously. And while this draft should never have made its way to a board meeting, I have taken immediate action to ensure it does not happen again.”

Duff Conacher, Co-Founder of Democracy Watch says the office of a cabinet minister is designed to service the public at large, rather than those who support any particular party or voter. 

“People in ministers offices and ministers themselves are supposed to spending their work time working for all voters in Ontario, not just voters who voted for their party and not just for their party,” Conacher told CTV News Toronto.

“This clearly crosses the line and it’s essentially using the public’s money for the Conservative party’s promotion and the minister’s promotion with Conservative voters and that is a violation and an abuse and a waste of the public’s money.”

NDP MPP Taras Natyshak believes the social media strategy constitutes an “inappropriate use of government resources and ministerial resources” and calls it a “coordinated effort to increase the minister’s profile.”

“We need to hear from the minister directly about what his involvement was and what he was aware of his staff doing on his behalf.”

Natyshak is now considering whether to send a letter to Ontario’s integrity commissioner requesting an investigation. 

Bethlenfalvy, meanwhile, has already called in the Integrity Commissioner to “provide refresher training” for his staff. 

Here is a copy of the “Minister’s Social Media Promotional Spend” memo:

 

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The Barn Find Hunter Finds a Home on REV TV!

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Burlington, ON (August 10, 2022) — REV TV, YOUR MOTORSPORTS & AUTOMOTIVE DESTINATION 24/7, is excited to join the hunt for buried automotive treasure with the addition of Barn Find Hunter to its programming lineup.

Barn Find Hunter, which is produced by Hagerty Media, follows host Tom Cotter—who literally wrote the book(s) on barn finds—as he searches through dusty barns, cluttered garages and rusty scrap yards for automotive gold.

“REV TV viewers are the type of folks to pass a barn on a backroad and wonder if a Hemi is gathering dust inside,” said Mike Garrow, CEO of REV TV. “Barn Find Hunter, therefore, is the perfect fit for our channel and a great extension and expansion of our relationship with our wonderful partner Hagerty.”

“There’s nothing like the Barn Find Hunter audience so it’s a thrill to welcome the REV TV audience,” said Barn Find Hunter host Tom Cotter. “I’ve been doing this most my life and I love how the show demonstrates to viewers that these great cars are still out there – you just need to look in the right place!”

Barn Find Hunter will make its debut on Saturday, August 13th at 10AM ET.

About Hagerty, Inc. (NYSE: HGTY)

Based in Traverse City, Michigan, Hagerty’s purpose is to save driving and car culture for future generations and its mission is to build a global business to fund that purpose. Hagerty is an automotive enthusiast brand offering integrated membership products and programs as well as a specialty insurance provider focused on the global automotive enthusiast market. Hagerty is home to Hagerty Drivers Club, Hagerty DriveShare, Hagerty Valuation Tools, Hagerty Media, Hagerty Drivers Club magazine, MotorsportReg, Hagerty Garage + Social, The Amelia, Detroit Concours d’Elegance, Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, California Mille, Motorlux, Hagerty Drivers Foundation and more.

For more information on Hagerty, please visit https://www.hagerty.com/, or connect with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. More information can be found at newsroom.hagerty.com.

 

About REV TV

YOUR MOTORSPORTS & AUTOMOTIVE DESTINATION is available to over 6 million households across Canada and features over 200 races from around the world and right here at home. From two-wheels to four and so much more. REV TV showcases all forms of high-octane racing, such as MotoGP, Monster Jam, AMA Supercross, World Rally Championship, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Indy Lights, World Endurance Championship, World RX Championship, IndyCar Classics, SPEED SPORT TV, along with news coverage such as The Inside Line (F1), Winged Nation (winged sprint cars) and Tuning 365 Performance Auto & Sound Magazine. We also have a slate of original programming with REV Culture with Todd Lewis that features interviews with motorsports luminaries, All North Racing which focuses on grassroots racing, a slew of how-to and behind-the-scenes programs, and so much more. REV TV is your MOTORSPORTS & AUTOMOTIVE DESTINATION 24/7.

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Singer Songwriter DIA Heats Up Summer With ‘LIMONATA”

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Toronto, ON – Canadian-Italian singer/ songwriter DIA, released her new single, “Limonata” on all music platforms.  The pop artist draws you in with a powerful and dynamic sound.  DIA’s voice is filled with nuances that embrace diverse cultures.  With a master’s degree in ethnomusicology and the ability to sing in 32 languages, the multi-talented artist has no boundaries and takes fans outside theirs.  “Limonata” produced by KC Bondar, is a fun and sexy single for the summer about loving and living life to the fullest.  With an upbeat Latin and Mediterranean vibe, “Limonata” will have you up dancing all summer long.
DIA has headlined festivals throughout Canada, the US, Europe, Central and South America, that included a performance at the closing ceremonies of the Parapan Am games – an honor for the artist.   A voice of multiculturalism and a product of her Canadian environment makes DIA’s connection with audiences undeniable.  The singer draws you into her music with enthusiastic performances and the belief that music has no barriers.  “Limonata” is that song….   Listen. Repeat. Listen. Repeat
“Each culture I experience, leaves a thumbprint on my voice… and with this song, I’ve got Italy on my mind”
                                                                                             DIA
Listen to “LIMONATA”

 

Watch The Video:
 
Follow DIA:
INSTAGRAM @diadiadia
FACEBOOK: @diamusiconline

 

YOUTUBE: @diamusicofficial
TIKTOK: @worldofdia
WEBSITE: https://www.diamusiconline.com/
Media Inquiries:
Sasha Stoltz Publicity:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
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Timmins news: Teen charged with social media threats | CTV News – CTV News Northern Ontario

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Timmins police have been busy with young offenders this week with the latest involving a teen boy getting charged for threatening another teen using social media.

A 15-year-old male is accused of threatening a 14-year-old female online and attempting to “entice and enlist others to cause bodily harm” to her, police said in a news release Thursday morning.

Officers responded to a complaint Wednesday evening and were able to identify, locate and arrest the boy at his home the same night.

He has been charged with two counts each of uttering threats and failing to comply with a release order and one count of conspiracy to commit an offence.

The accused was held in custody overnight and is scheduled to appear at a bail hearing Thursday.

This comes after two other violent incidents involving young suspects in the last week.

“It’s a definite worrisome trend,” Marc Depatie, a Timmins police spokesperson, told CTV News in an email.

Five teens, ranging from 12 to 15 years of age, were charged after a 14-year-old female was allegedly swarmed, beaten and robbed on Aug. 5.

A 12-year-old female has been charged with assaulting another girl her age Tuesday evening at a Park Avenue schoolyard.

Both victims were injured in the attacks.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

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