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Macleans Is Against Government Using Twitter

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In a recent opinion article for Macleans magazine (found here), the editors of the magazine came out against the government of Canada challenging the CRTC’s decision to implement Usage Based Billing. Since Macleans is owned by Rogers Communications, it really isn’t a surprise that they would write an article supporting UBB, since their parent company is one of the companies that benefits from UBB.  The part of the article that shocked me was how critical the editors are of the government using twitter to announce that they will be reversing the CRTC’s decision.

The article begins by attempting to provide information about why UBB should be implemented (mind you quite unfactual information) but towards the end of the article they begin to talk about how unprofessional it is of the government to use Twitter to convey messages to the public by saying:

As a result of wild online outcries from the heaviest users and their Internet service providers, Prime Minister Stephen Harper quickly sent out a tweet that he was unhappy with the CRTC’s decision. Industry Minister Tony Clement followed up with his own Twitter posting that the agency would be forced to drop its existing policy and “go back to [the] drawing board.”

Such a casual approach to important public policy is an embarrassment to the government. It’s also another example of how the Harper government occasionally allows populism to interfere with sound decision-making. In much the same way the Conservatives seem convinced our country is besieged by criminals, they are now encouraging the popular delusion that usage-based billing will condemn Canada to backwater Internet status. Rather, we have one of the fastest and most modern Internet networks in the world.

I for one was quite happy to see that members of parliament were using Twitter to discuss this matter, as that was where most of the conversation about the issue was happening.  I find that Twitter is the most used app on my iPhone as a source of news and information, so it makes sense for the government to use it as a tool for policy making.  To me, this is a sign of government embracing the modern age, similar to how radio and television were embraced in the past.

What do you think about this matter? Should the government use social media to convey information about public policy to the public? Or do you agree that services like Twitter are too “casual” for the government to use for deciding and announcing public policy? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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  • Demosthenes X

    I’m no fan of our current government, but I think Maclean’s is missing the point criticizing them for using Twitter. It shows they’re in touch with the issue – as you say, that’s where the discussion was happening. Maclean’s needs to get with the times: Twitter is a valuable medium of communication, and we shouldn’t be criticizing our politicians for embracing it.

    If they want to criticize the current government, they’ve got LOTS of ammunition, anyway…

  • ML

    The only problem is… it’s not the PM or the Minister who’s using the Twitter. Each department (or PMO) has a communications branch, which is in charge of posting “on behalf” of a certain head. The approval process is usually along the lines of: Twitter post (analyst/manager/director) -> Director/Director General (approve/disapprove) ->Assistant Deputy Minister/Deputy Minister (approve/disapprove) -> IT/web/comms. person makes the post. I wonder how many times those on whose behalf a message is issued actually initiates that message; I say rarely if ever at all. Politicians pay lip service to the use of social media. Sadly.

  • In some regards, I do think that it is to casual a way for the government to convey messages, BUT, it’s not like they are using twitter as their only source of spreading the word.. it’s not the official way they are getting the message out.. if it was the only way they spread the word, then yes, I would agree with MacLeans.. but it’s just an “add on” for how they spread news.. so in that sense, I think its ok and welcome it.. when TV and Radio were becoming popular, people likely opposed the government using them as a method of relaying news (I speculate that, because I wasn’t around back then) but it seems like every time the government does something to keep up with the times, there are people who complain, so it just makes sense that people (like MacLeans) are going to complain about it.. but the reality is, MacLeans is probably just pissed about the CRTC ruling, so this is their way of lashing out..

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see this as true for all officials.. I know in my region the MP and MPP actually post to twitter themselves.. which is why you get half statements instead of full on answers..

  • ML

    It’s true for all officials who occupy a government office (read: Ministers). MPs and MPPs are irrelevant.

  • Jlocicero

    I doubt Macleans would have had a problem with the government using Twitter if they had tweeted in agreement with the CRTC and Rogers…

  • Anonymous

    If they didn’t use Twitter then the Prime Minister, Tony Clement, and others would of just made the same message later that day in front of the cameras.

    They should use Twitter more.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s the crux of the matter: Macleans is for all intents and purposes a dinosaur and will become extinct….it’s just a matter of time. They don’t embrace Twitter or probably any other social media because…….well……let’s face facts…they want us to get our information from a tired, old,outdated format i.e.: print media……aka Macleans magazine. So it comes as no surprise they take a swipe at the “casualness” of new forms of information (Twitter) or any other forms of it. Rogers needs the fees they’d collect from a UBB system to pay for dying assets like Macleans and their ilk!

  • Anonymous

    they may be irrelevant to you.. but my MP is important to me, because he brings the issues that I have to the table

  • ML

    In the grand scheme of things, what your MP or MPP says, unless he holds office, is irrelevant since his personal opinion is just that — personal opinion. Let him tweet as much as he wants. However, one should pay attention to what the Industry Minister says since he has the mandate and respective powers to affect change.

  • Not totally on topic (i.e. whether or not governments should be using social media, etc.) but rather on Maclean’s support of UBB.

    Guess who owns Maclean’s?: Rogers.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • It actually is Tony Clement using his own Twitter account to talk to people. I’m not sure if it is actually the Prime Minister on his own or not, but I know that this one is legit. Here’s an article talking about it with the Minister of Industry himself:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tony-clement-a-tory-among-the-twitterati/article1584725/

  • Flaxx

    With regards to UBB, anyone for it needs to get their facts straight. I think the part of this video, from 6:02 onward, is pretty much all that is required to see how unjustified UBB really is:

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, just like their Pro UBB article.

  • NurseBC

    Macleans magazine needs to get with the times and embrace social media and those who use it,including governments and MPs, the PM and the Industry Minister whos mandate it is to oversee the CRTC who has not done Canadians any favors in recent years,given that we pay the highest internet fees in the world. Macleans is owned by Rogers and both are in for a rude awakening as more Canadians will demand more consumer protection from minister Tony Clement and the PM Stephen Harper. Print magazines such as Macleans will become extinct as we embrace online magazines more and more everything social media that reaches huge masses of people. If we are to embrace newer technology we have the right to pay fair prices like the rest of the world and fat cats like Macleans will wonder what happened! Heres hoping theres more overturned decisions done by Minister Clement cuz the CRTC is making some really bad ones!

  • Cgomboc

    Thank you for posting this post to read this article and then I laugh when I started reading the 500+ that just tore the article apart. Oh congrats on being mentioned a couple times in the postings

  • roadcarver

    Sound decision making? What a croc!

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