In the old influencer economy, sun-kissed vacation pictures and glossy group shots were among the most valuable forms of social media currency. Now, these pandemic-flouting posts would be cause for public derision.
But a new type of photo has taken their place to induce FOMO — fear of missing out — across the online sphere: the vaccine selfie.
Photos of Canadians smiling beneath their masks as they roll up their sleeves to show off their bandages are increasingly cropping up on social media feeds as the country’s immunization campaign expands to new segments of the population.
Experts say these selfies can encourage others to overcome their vaccine hesitancy, but may also incite jealousy among those who aren’t eligible to book their appointments.
Ara Yeremian, a realtor in Vaughan, Ont., shared his vaccine selfie across social media platforms after receiving his first dose in January as the caregiver to his 91-year-old parents who live in a long-term care home.
“I wanted everybody to know that I was doing well and it’s safe to take,” said Yeremian. “Being able to be part of the solution makes me really happy.”
Ryan Quintal, a registered practical nurse in London, Ont., said he felt it was his “duty” as a health-care professional to post his selfie as a way of showing his online followers that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
The 34-year-old said the photo even prompted some friends to reach out and ask questions about getting vaccinated.
“The photo kind of represented that your turn could be coming up next,” said Quintal. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
While Yeremian and Quintal say the reactions to their vaccine selfies were overwhelmingly positive, other social media users have prodding questions from commenters about how they qualified for their vaccines.
Dr. Karim Ali, director of infectious diseases for Niagara Health in Ontario, said post-injection selfies run the risk of fomenting a digital divide between the “have nots” and “have lots” of Canada’s piecemeal vaccine rollout.
Ali felt this frustration in January as he saw Toronto health-care administrators posting about getting vaccinated, while his front-line colleagues fighting an outbreak in Niagara had yet to receive their first shipment of doses.
“Vaccine envy was a real thing,” he said. “You can’t help but feel dejected. You can’t help feeling that you are left out.”
Ali doesn’t judge people who want to celebrate their injections with their online followers, and believes influencers have a role to play in spreading the word about vaccine safety.
But stoking social media envy isn’t an effective public health strategy, he said, particularly when most Canadians are still patiently waiting their turn to be vaccinated.
“Think twice before you post anything,” said Ali. “There are so many people who are suffering and will continue to suffer until we get out of this.”
Krishana Sankar, science communication lead for the online platform COVID-19 Resources Canada, said vaccine selfies can be a powerful tool to combat online misinformation spreading unfounded fears about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Personal testimonials such as selfies can carry more weight than the word of health authorities, said Sankar, particularly for members of marginalized communities who may have trouble trusting the institutions that have oppressed them.
“People tend to trust people they know,” she said. “A lot of the conversations around hesitancy actually starts within that bubble of family and friends talking about their concerns about it.”
“If one person gets the vaccine, and several other people are seeing that, it causes a trickle effect.”
Sankar also cautioned social media users against prodding selfie sharers about how they qualified for their vaccinations.
While she understands that people are curious about how to secure their own place in line, Sankar said it’s wrong to question someone’s eligibility based on assumptions about their lifestyle and medical history.
Many people who may appear young and healthy could be suffering from autoimmune conditions that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes, she noted.
“A lot of people are very quick to judge and criticize others without actually having any idea of the backstory of what’s actually going on,” she said.
“A little bit of kindness can take us a far longer way.”
Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
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2 NDP candidates resign after social media comments on Israel, Auschwitz – Global News
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the antisemitic comments by two of his party’s candidates who resigned were “completely wrong.”
“Antisemitism is real,” Singh said during a campaign stop in Essex, Ont.
“We’re seeing a scary rise in antisemitism, and we are unequivocally opposed, and we’ll confront it.”
The party confirmed Wednesday that Dan Osborne, the candidate for the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland-Colchester, and Sidney Coles, the candidate for Toronto-St. Paul’s, ended their campaigns and “agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism.”
Federal election: Jagmeet Singh one-on-one
Singh said antisemitism has no place in his party and the candidates made the right decision to resign.
“In addition, they’re talking about the importance of getting training,” Singh said.
Coles, who has since deleted her Twitter account, was reported to have posted misinformation about Israel being linked to missing COVID-19 vaccines.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, a non-profit human rights organization, shared images purportedly from Coles’ account over the weekend. Coles later apologized on social media.
Osborne was reported to have tweeted to Oprah in 2019 asking if Auschwitz was a real place, referring to the Nazi-run concentration camp in Poland during the Second World War.
He responded to backlash about the post on Twitter over the weekend, saying he had tweeted it when he was a teenager.
“I want to offer an apology,” Osborne tweeted Sunday. “The role of Auschwitz and the history of the Holocaust is one we should never forget.
“Antisemitism should be confronted and stopped. I can’t recall posting that, I was 16 then and can honestly say I did not mean to cause any harm.”
Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of policy at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, said in a news release that he had been in contact with the New Democrats. He was relieved the candidates stepped down, he added.
“We thank NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for his leadership in ensuring this outcome,” Kirzner-Roberts said.
“Amid rising Jew-hatred in this country, all political parties and leaders must send a message, loud and clear, that antisemitism will not be tolerated in any shape or form.”
A handful of candidates from other parties have also dropped out during the election.
Last week the Conservative Party dropped Lisa Robinson, the candidate for the Beaches-East York riding in Toronto, after Islamophobic social media posts surfaced. Robinson has claimed the account is fake and she has previously reported it to police.
Liberal Raj Saini resigned earlier in the campaign after facing allegations that he harassed a female staff member, claims he firmly denies.
Singh condemned Coles’ posts during a campaign stop on Tuesday, but did not demand she step down. At that time, he said the candidate’s “unequivocal apology” was the right thing to do.
Singh didn’t say Wednesday why he didn’t push for a resignation sooner, but reiterated that it was the right decision for the candidates.
Liberal candidate’s Montreal posters defaced with swastikas
The New Democrats are filling their schedule for the final push before the election.
Singh was greeted by hundreds of people cheering and holding signs during stops in London West and Niagara Centre _ both of which went Liberal in the last election. He told supporters to vote with their conscience.
The NDP leader has continuedto dismiss that people should follow the idea of voting strategically and kept his sights set on Justin Trudeau during the final push.
“There is a cost to voting for the Liberals,” he said.
Singh will also be taking his message to the Ontario ridings of Hamilton and Brampton East.
He will end the busy day with a livestream on Twitch, an online gaming site. Singh, who has embraced social media trends and videos, said it’s a way to connect with potential voters.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Toronto NDP candidate resigns after discovery of controversial social media posts – CTV News Toronto
A Toronto New Democratic Party candidate has resigned after controversial social media posts were unearthed in which she links a lack of vaccines in Canada to Israel.
On Wednesday, the party confirmed that Sidney Coles, who was running in the Toronto-St. Paul’s riding, as well as Dan Osborne, a candidate running in Nova Scotia, have “ended their campaigns.”
“They have agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism,” spokesperson George Soule told CTV News.
“New Democrats stand united against discrimination of all kinds. We are committed to taking lasting and meaningful steps toward ending prejudice and hatred in all its forms.”
Screenshots of Tweets posted by Coles earlier in the year started to resurface over the weekend. In the social media posts, Coles appears to indicate that Israel was responsible for alleged missing COVID-19 vaccine doses in the United States.
The tweets were shared by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, among others.
The organization demanded a “retraction and apology” for the remarks.
Earlier this week, Coles took to Twitter to apologize for her social media posts, saying that she posted “unsubstantiated theories about vaccine supply linked to Israel.”
“These comments weren’t based on evidence. I recognize this frame is a common anti-Semitic trope, though that was never my intent,” she said on Sept. 13.
“I should not have made this link and apologize and retract those statements. I will continue to stand firmly against anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination in all its forms.”
Coles’ Twitter page has since been deactivated and her profile on the NDP website is no longer available.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies acknowledged the apology, but said that the comments remain concerning given rise of anti-Semitism globally and “escalating incidences of Jew hate in her Toronto-St. Paul’s riding.”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said that those comments have “no place” in the party.
“We’re seeing a scary rise in anti-Semitism,” he said. “I want folks to know that our values are values of inclusivity, making sure everyone feels welcome and making sure everyone feels like they belong.”
“Those messages were completely unacceptable and the right decision was made.”
The PPC's rise demands more fulsome media coverage – iPolitics.ca
Since this late-summer election kicked off one month ago, the campaign’s biggest surprise has been the meteoric rise of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).
An Ekos poll from Sept. 9 pegged national support for the party at a whopping 11.2 per cent, with impressive backing in Alberta (19 per cent), Quebec (13 per cent), and Ontario (11 per cent).
While Ekos has consistently shown higher support of the PPC than other polling firms in recent weeks, virtually all public polling in this campaign has revealed that it’s attracting far more voters than it did two years ago when it debuted as a national party. On election day in 2019, the nascent party earned a paltry 1.62 per cent of the popular vote and not one seat in the House of Commons.
Today, the far-right-wing party led by former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier is enjoying a new lease on life. While the PPC’s supporters aren’t monolithic, it’s safe to say they represent a minority of Canadians who are deeply angry about the sweeping government interventions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months.
Before the pandemic, Bernier’s party was known mainly for preaching pro-freedom, small-government solutions. Its emphatically right-wing platform didn’t even resonate much with the country’s most conservative voters in the 2019 election.
But the pandemic’s government-imposed lockdowns, widespread job losses, and now the vaccine passports introduced by the federal and provincial governments, have reinvigorated the PPC’s electoral prospects.
Bernier has quickly transformed his party into a sanctuary for a pernicious coalition of cult-like anti-vaxxers and Trumpist conspiracy theorists. Throughout this election campaign, many of these fanatics have repeatedly demonstrated that they’re not above mob-like protests — attended by young children — in which profanities are hurled and physical violence is sometimes triggered.
While the PPC’s most repugnant elements don’t represent all the party’s supporters, these zealots and their leader have thrust the movement into the news-media spotlight for all the wrong reasons in this campaign.
In a video posted to his Twitter account early last month, Bernier boasted to his supporters that he refuses to be vaccinated. It was a reckless message, when the Delta-driven fourth wave began spreading across much of the country.
Then, in the campaign’s third week, the president of the local PPC riding association threw gravel at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as he left a campaign event in London, Ont. The 25-year-old man has since been arrested, but his affiliation with Bernier’s party has put a chill down the spines of millions of Canadians.
Finally, on Labour Day weekend, Bernier released an inflammatory video in which he uttered this opening salvo: “When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty.” The video has since gone viral on social media, while being almost universally excoriated for quoting the words of John F. Kennedy to justify the party’s crusade against “government overreach” during an ongoing public-health crisis.
Until last week, the PPC was scarcely covered by mainstream news outlets. While that lack of coverage, and exclusion from the leaders’ debates, undoubtedly incensed the party’s brass, it also meant it wasn’t subjected to close public scrutiny.
For much of the campaign, large news outlets ostensibly ignored Bernier’s party, so as not to amplify its dangerous messages, thereby starving it of oxygen and blunting its political appeal. Although the Green party has been consistently dwarfed by the PPC in the polls, it’s received far more news coverage than Bernier’s — until recently.
But the news outlets’ initial approach was ill-conceived and unsustainable. As the PPC’s supporters have grown steadily more vicious in this campaign — often attempting to drown out Trudeau’s events by shouting expletives — the news media have been forced to reluctantly shed light on the party and its often-dubious motives.
As a result, the fourth estate has exposed an increasingly popular, albeit reckless, party beholden to anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, as our country emerges from the most prolonged economic and public-health crisis in a century.
In the campaign’s final week, Canadians are more mindful of the PPC’s surging popularity, and how it might affect the election’s outcome.
That in itself is a good thing. As a democratic society, we can’t begin to genuinely understand the menacing elements of a movement without reporting on them extensively in the press.
It’s not about amplifying their voices, but reporting on them accurately and forthrightly so we can better understand the grave danger some of these individuals pose to Canada’s pandemic recovery.
It remains to be seen precisely how Bernier’s party will affect election day. But instead of ignoring the party in hopes that its appeal will magically disappear, news outlets will serve voters better by producing stories that seek to meaningfully expose the PPC’s dark underbelly.
Andrew Perez is a Toronto-based communications and public affairs professional who has volunteered for Liberal parties at the federal and provincial levels. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewaperez.
This post was copy-edited after publication.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.
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