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Video Should politicians be barred from blocking people on Twitter? | Power and Politics
05:55   |   today at 11:42


  • we're back with the power panel James
  • Andrew Robb and Katie Ontario's
  • municipal elections are taking place
  • Monday but Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson's bid
  • for re-election hit a bump this week
  • when three people began legal
  • proceedings to sue him for blocking them
  • on social media that led to a debate
  • about the right of elected officials to
  • block citizens what do you think should
  • politicians be able to block people
  • online Katie I'm gonna start with you
  • because in this case essentially these
  • three people are saying you know you
  • claim it's a personal account but you're
  • conducting is you know you're talking
  • about things you're doing as mayor we
  • have a right to know that and it's a
  • fine line right because as you know not
  • exactly necessarily the most fun place
  • to be and you don't control what pops up
  • on your phone and it can I do understand
  • that an elected official has to be able
  • to speak to all the people but there are
  • different ways that can be done i but I
  • see where Jim Watson's coming from on
  • here
  • because when you face a daily barrage of
  • insults that are unrelated to anything
  • you're doing just just a barrage of hate
  • yeah you know what it makes it so much
  • easier when you block and you boot it I
  • sure do and I know that I do have a big
  • question about you know I do block until
  • the block and mute people on Twitter and
  • I'm wondering because we are journalists
  • at the CBC although my job is not to
  • tweet it's something that I do as part
  • of a function of the job but it's not my
  • job to do that I'm curious as to how
  • this goes is is this a question that's
  • come up in our offices are they gonna
  • bring questions about what journalists
  • do particularly those at CBC so this is
  • a question I'll be very interested to
  • see how this goes but I block I will
  • continue to block and if I'm not allowed
  • to block I'm probably gonna delete
  • Twitter because it's a pretty terrible
  • thing all right done Rob it's an
  • interesting debate and I see two sides
  • of it in the sense that it would be
  • deeply problematic if the minister of X
  • or the mayor of X or the premier of Acts
  • said I'm blocking you from getting press
  • releases you can't access my website
  • anymore you've pissed me off you can't
  • get this year's budget you have no right
  • to download it we don't everybody would
  • agree that's
  • really problematic and any court would
  • say no no you can't do that you're a
  • public official you have to have access
  • to that so you start taking that down
  • and you say well Twitter is different
  • obviously that's me personally and if
  • you cross whatever line I decide I have
  • the right to step in and say you know
  • what go away and I feel very sympathetic
  • I feel sympathetic especially to female
  • politicians and politicians of color but
  • but but all politicians the white MIT
  • white male politicians get it all
  • everybody gets it mm-hmm and it's gross
  • and I understand so from a personal
  • perspective I think he needs to pick a
  • line Elaine if you're a politician
  • either it is a robotic social media
  • account and it's being run by staff and
  • whatever you tweet back at me whatever
  • the staff were kind of just ignoring it
  • and they're basically it's a
  • broadcasting venue or as most of us want
  • people like like James more people like
  • lots of politicians where it's my chance
  • to interact with you and if I have a
  • question for you about what you were
  • doing as a minister as an elected
  • official this is my shot to say like why
  • did you say that today and as long as
  • you're respectful most politicians are
  • really good and it's a very unique
  • valuable resource but if you start being
  • abusive if you start being then you're
  • gonna get blocked and tough luck and if
  • you are a politician my last point all
  • that at the actual politicians give
  • their opinions if you are somebody who
  • just blocks everybody who is
  • thin-skinned then that's gonna reflect
  • on you if you are blocking people for
  • nothing for criticism then that becomes
  • part of your brand that becomes part of
  • who you are and you'll be evaluated for
  • it and that's that's the risk you take
  • James yeah look you know we have in noir
  • my standard is pretty simple if somebody
  • came to a town hall meeting in an open
  • theater in in my district when I was an
  • MP and poor moody for example and stood
  • up and just started berating me and
  • insulting me in a personal basis I
  • wouldn't tolerate it and I would ask
  • them to leave the room and I would ever
  • try to shut them down because they know
  • that we do have a boundary of civility
  • we do have a boundary of you know sort
  • of social expectation but look you know
  • we have enormous problems in this
  • country whether its economic whether its
  • reconciliation whether it's ensuring our
  • healthcare system will be there for the
  • next generation as we deal with
  • demographic shifts and all that we need
  • really strong thoughtful men and women
  • to enter public life and to run for
  • office and they shouldn't have to put up
  • with this kind of belligerence in
  • ugliness a dear friend of mine is chose
  • not to run for re-election here in
  • British Columbia as a school trustee
  • because you just said I can't have it I
  • can't handle it anymore my kids are
  • gonna see it digital's forever it's not
  • worth that I'm doing my best but I I
  • can't handle it and so like we we have
  • an obligation so you know if a somebody
  • runs for public office and they're
  • putting up or worth review with abuse
  • absolutely they should block they should
  • feel like they should have the
  • opportunity to speak we're not shutting
  • down any government websites or not
  • having any other access to get
  • information but we need good people in
  • public life and there's a third there is
  • a line and it when it gets crossed
  • people should be stood up to Andrew
  • final word to you well I'm trying to
  • think of what to add to this love-in I
  • mean we all seem to think the same thing
  • sad that our democracies come to the
  • point where politicians feel like they
  • have to engage on Twitter in order to
  • get their message out I think we just
  • need to deal with the tools as if
  • blocked fine mute fine do like I do
  • change your you know nickname thing as
  • often you can but there's lots I I just
  • tend to agree that there's far too much
  • abuse in the political system now
  • frankly it wouldn't hurt for our
  • politicians to tone it down a little bit
  • to I think that you know they tend to
  • use the forum perhaps a little less
  • judiciously than they should if we
  • responded like we did in person to each
  • other maybe politics would be slightly
  • nicer again okay I'll leave it there
  • thank you everyone thanks to the power
  • panel James Moore Andrew Thompson Rob
  • silver and Katie Simpson

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Three Ottawa activists are suing Mayor Jim Watson after he blocked them on Twitter. The Power Panel discusses whether politicians should be barred from blocking people on Twitter.
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