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Video Should politicians be barred from blocking people on Twitter? | Power and Politics

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05:55   |   today at 11:42

Transcription

  • 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.
To read more: http://cbc.ca/1.4867593

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