Editorials - April 21, 2022
With great power...
Whether Elon Musk’s headline-grabbing offer to buy Twitter in order to make the social media giant a privately-held company is legitimate or if it is the ultimate troll remains to be seen. What it has succeeded in doing is making the public stand up and consider how the media, whether it be social media or traditional media, is controlled.
Musk claims that the social media platform needs a major overhaul to remain relevant and that the algorithms that control the content should be open source so that the public can trust them. So, to that end, he is proposing that he would buy 100 per cent of the existing shares, thereby creating a paradox by which he claims he will create more democracy and inclusivity by controlling the medium.
Musk is a disruptor, and, if nothing else, this ploy has opened up conversations about who controls the message and who controls the controllers. How do we allow freedom of information without allowing the damage caused by misinformation spread by those who would do harm? Musk’s entire plan seems to hinge on his belief “that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important.” Clearly he has a definition of free speech that he wants to protect, but a billionaire controlling one of the most influential social media platforms might not be what society defines as free speech. – DS
Freedom of information
Pat King, who is alleged to be one of the leaders of the so-called Freedom Convoy, saw his bail review end abruptly last week, but the reason behind it was shrouded in secrecy for about a day. It now seems that King’s lawyer’s computer appeared to be hacked.
That information, however, was subject to a publication ban until several media outlets brought their own lawyer to the proceedings, challenging the ban, which was then lifted (though some things about that day continue to be protected by the ban). The day after the episode, the Crown announced that King is facing two additional charges for perjury and obstruction of justice and his bail hearing will now be rescheduled for a later date. While the details of the hacking incident, and whether it was random or pertained to King’s case, are still yet to be determined, reporters have called the whole ordeal bizarre.
The fact that a publication ban was brought in for this case may be the strangest aspect of the incident. Publication bans in court cases are often related to more sensitive aspects of public proceedings. Court is supposed to be open and transparent, but when it comes to children, sexual crimes and witness protection, a publication ban makes sense. However, without knowing all the specifics, nothing like that appears to be in play here and it’s hard to think of a case of interest to more Canadians than one related to a protest that paralyzed Canada’s capital city and has sown seeds of division from coast to coast.
Sure, a publication ban is convenient. It’s always easier to conduct business behind closed doors. But Canadians deserve to know the details of proceedings that affect them directly. – SL
Back at it
Last week’s issue of The Citizen featured a number of photos from the Brussels Optimist Club’s annual spring dinner and auction, which raised $52,000 of the $151,000 the club has pledged to the renovation and expansion of the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre.
The event marked one of the first major fundraising events to be held in person since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. After two years of local community groups and churches having to turn to drive-thru or pick-up meal fundraisers, the community of Brussels showed up in droves not only to support the Optimists, but also just to remember what it was like to come together as a community.
The event served as an important reminder that, while these community groups have been able to manage over the past two years with different kinds of fundraisers, the good work they do by contributing to everything from renovations of community centres to refugees fleeing wars, is reliant on them being able to raise money. Short of running a meal every week, the kind of fundraising the Optimists did in one night would be extremely difficult to match during the most extreme depths of the COVID-19 lockdown.
That success comes not just from the efforts of the Optimist Club but also from the communities surrounding Brussels making the effort to come out and give through silent and live auctions and draws.
So while we all need to be careful, with COVID-19 numbers higher than ever, it is good to see that the communities The Citizen covers remember not only how to put on a good community event, but also how to continue to support one another. And the Optimist Club’s event shows that, while service clubs, churches and others have made do with truncated fundraising events in the name of public safety, there is no substitute for a large-scale, in-person community fundraiser. – JDS