Today, the CBC reports:
NDP asks elections watchdog to investigate 'slanderous' ads targeting Singh
My first thought when seeing that was: as a publisher, I know a bit about slander. There are a lot of defences — truth, obviously; but also fair comment. And if the slanderer was malicious or not; and of course it matters if there were any actual damages.
So my first thought was: How on earth could an “elections watchdog” handle a technical legal matter like a defamation lawsuit? And what does that have to do with running an election?
Technically, defamation means anything that would lower your reputation in the eyes of the public — which is about 85 per cent of all political messaging. And we generally don’t sue each other for that.
You could say that any election campaign is a massive, 35-day trial, where every single voter is on the jury.
But it gets weirder. What exactly was the defamation here?
Ads claim NDP leader owns a multi-million dollar mansion
How is that defamatory? Singh is running in a by-election in Burnaby, which is a suburb of Vancouver. It’s part of the Greater Vancouver area. The average price for detached houses there is $1.6 million.
Jagmeet Singh cultivates an image of wealth and luxury. He does glamour-style photo shoots, featuring his handsome self, around Canada and around the world, wearing bespoke luxury suits. He’s a helluva socialist this guy...
As the Tyee first reported, an ad claiming Singh owns a $5.5 million mansion ran below a story in the Vancouver Courier, a community paper. That link took readers to an article titled "13 Super Luxurious Celebrity Houses – They Surely Know How to Spend Their Fortune" on the website Attorney Cocktail.
Oh. Now we’re getting somewhere.
This isn’t a political ad. It’s just some clickbait, so people could look at a pretty house.
Late last year another story — which has been shared more than 5,700 times on Facebook — accused Singh of having links to Sikh militants.
Yeah, that’s not actually fake news. He does have links to Sikh militants.
And by the way, so is Justin Trudeau:
Trudeau literally brought a convicted Sikh terrorist named Jaspal Atwal with him on his scandalous trip to India last year.
The NDP sent CBC News screen capture images that show the ad that appeared in the Courier also appeared on the History Channel website and the U.K.-based site for the Independent newspaper. Clicking on the link brings the reader to a photo gallery of more than 145 celebrities with mansions, including Alex Rodriguez, the Obamas and Rihanna.
It’s like you’re complaining about the National Enquirer saying that Bill Clinton lives on Mars, or the Hillary Clinton is really Elvis Presley. Those are entertainments. You don’t sue them, unless you have more money than brains.
Now this is obviously a really dumb story.
But that’s the point:
They’re using a really dumb complaint to ask for a really powerful remedy — government regulation of the Internet.
In fact, Trudeau’s Liberal candidate in Burnaby, at a candidates' debate for the by-election there (where Jagmeet Singh is running too) called for the United Nations to regulate the Internet.
At he actually got booed, even at a left-wing event, in a liberal city.
But so what? The fancy people want to regulate the Internet, and they will...