“When people cannot get accurate, credible information from a trusted source, misinformation spreads. This has a significant impact on our elections, which undermines our democratic society.”
This is what North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney had to say on a motion she brought up last week.
She was pushing for more federal investment to go towards local rural media outlets.
She didn’t just bring it up to spread local news and boost community events, though.
She said that the government needs to support local media to help defend against foreign election interference.
“We need more support for rural, remote, Indigenous, and ethnic communities and their local media to prevent foreign interference in Canadian elections,” Blaney said.
Blaney’s motion was specifically directed at smaller communities, which she said could be more exposed to misinformation.
Although “foreign interference” is a pretty broad scope, there were many examples during our last set of elections of ideological organizations trying to infiltrate local politics.
Without local reporting, people likely wouldn’t have known who the proposed candidates’ were associated with.
“If our local, rural and community media aren’t supported in a sustainable way, those trusted sources can be undermined, and that takes away our right to be included in the democratic process.”
Global News recently reported that China targeted Canada during the 2019 federal election. This partially spurred on Blaney’s move to bring up the motion.
The motion did not receive full support, though. So for the moment, it won’t be moving forward. Blaney says we’re missing an opportunity to create more reporting we can trust.
“Passing this motion would have been good for Canadians and good for democracy.”
While her suggestion got kicked to the curb, for now, it could be brought up again in the future—and might be worth thinking on.