Countries around the world are grappling with how to identify and prevent a host of new threats to the integrity of their elections and democratic systems. Social media platforms and new data collection methods have been used by both foreign and domestic players to sow divisions between citizens and erode trust in our core institutions. Disinformation is often the tool of choice. With the next general election around the corner in Canada, is our policy framework up to the task of dealing with the deliberate spread of false information? Do our regulations and laws adequately capture new innovations in political advertising and campaigning, such as the use of bots, social media influencers and data analytics? What is the role of traditional media outlets? Experts weighed in on these questions during a panel discussion in Ottawa.
This event is part of a series of in-depth conversations on key policy issues that could — or should — form part of the debate in the federal election campaign in 2019, hosted by Policy Options, in partnership with the Max Bell School of Public Policy.
Elizabeth Dubois (PhD, University of Oxford) is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. Her work examines political uses of digital media including media manipulation, citizen engagement and artificial intelligence. She leads a multidisciplinary team that includes political scientists, computer scientists and communication students, and collaborates internationally with nonprofits, technology companies, journalists and academics. Her public writing has appeared in Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Policy Options, The Conversation and Salon.
Jennifer McGuire has been the general manager and editor in chief of CBC News since 2009; she led the digital transformation of CBC News. A former senior leader of CBC Radio, she led the repositioning of CBC Radio 2 (now CBC Music) and the creation of many popular Radio 1 programs including The Current.
Taylor Owen (PhD, University of Oxford) is the Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications and associate professor in the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. He was previously assistant professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia and the research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. He sits on the board of directors of the Centre for International Governance Innovation and on the governing council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
Jennifer Ditchburn is the editor-in-chief of Policy Options, the IRPP’s influential digital magazine. An award-winning journalist, she spent more than two decades covering national and parliamentary affairs for The Canadian Press and for CBC Television. She is a three-time winner of a National Newspaper Award and the recipient of the prestigious Charles Lynch Award for outstanding coverage of national issues. She is the coeditor (with Graham Fox) of The Harper Factor: Assessing a Prime Minister’s Policy Legacy (2016).