Pro-Ford news broadcasts mocked for resembling North Korean TV are produced with public resources, Premier’s Office confirms
Doug Ford has launched a news channel that broadcasts non-stop positive stories showering himself with praise – and your family is paying for it.
At a time when Ford’s government is announcing steep cuts to schools, healthcare and assistance for the poor, running a taxpayer-funded propaganda outlet endlessly glorifying Ontario’s Premier might seem like a wrong priority to some.
On Monday, a news outlet calling itself “Ontario News Now” suddenly appeared on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram as a source for “timely exclusive content on the PC government’s priorities for the people of Ontario.”
In the first episode of ‘Doug TV’, news presenter Lyndsey Vanstone takes a “look back” at Ford’s first month in office, highlighting his appearance at several photo ops and bragging about a number of things Ford repealed (notably, Vanstone does not mention Ford’s repeal of Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum or his plan to gerrymander City Council wards in an attempt to rig Toronto’s upcoming municipal elections).
— Ontario News Now (@OntarioNewsNow) July 30, 2018
The outlet’s social media accounts provide no indication of who produces the videos or link to any government website even though the Premier’s Office admits the videos are produced with taxpayer’s money.
The Office of the Premier of Ontario confirmed to PressProgress that the pro-Ford news channel is being produced with public resources through an arm of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly.
Since June, Vanstone has identified herself on LinkedIn as a “senior communications advisor” in the “Office of the Premier of Ontario.”
The Premier’s Office denied employing Vanstone directly, indicating she is actually an employee of a different taxpayer-funded arm of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly called “PC Caucus Services.”
PressProgress reached out to the “Ontario News Now” news presenter for comment. A short while later, Vanstone’s LinkedIn profile was edited to indicate her position is “Deputy Director of Communications” for PC Caucus Services.
Neither Vanstone nor PC Caucus Services replied to questions from PressProgress requesting clarification about Vanstone’s job description and official duties.
Following this spring’s election, Ford’s campaign manager Kory Teneycke suggested conservatives must create their own “forms” and “voice” in digital spaces due to their “lack of success” in traditional media.
While Teneycke and Ford might think “Ontario News Now” is a clever way to speak directly with supporters, others see it as a waste of tax dollars and reminiscent of North Korean state-run TV:
— Blair W Carrigan (@BlairCrgn) July 31, 2018
— Marieke Walsh (@MariekeWalsh) July 30, 2018
Is this state propaganda?
— Tim Ellis (@DJDynamicNC) July 31, 2018
The campaign is over. This is the *premier’s* staff creating nakedly partisan advertising. I mean, it was clear PCs would eventually stoop down to the Liberals’ level, but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly
— Robyn Urback (@RobynUrback) July 30, 2018
Ontario News Now is a Replica of Harper’s 24/Seven “Selfie Channel”
News all about YOU carefully edited by your staff (paid by taxpayers) to make you look good & important.
Harper is pulling Ford’s strings & whispering in his ear, same as he is to Scheer (his placeholder)
— Hope Aldridge (@HopeAldridge) July 30, 2018
Everything is awesome. https://t.co/PU3IpBVa1Q
— Paul Wells (@InklessPW) July 30, 2018
Last July, the Ontario PCs under former leader Patrick Brown issued a press release vowing to “restore the Auditor General’s ability to block partisan government ads to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”