The dirty tricks in the Ontario election campaign have already started.
From tweets via fake Twitter accounts to attack videos posted on YouTube, each of the parties is facing its share of online negativity.
A fake Kathleen Wynne Twitter account (@ontario_liberal) with the Liberal party logo and Kathleen Wynne’s name is tweeting out links to an attack-style video posted to YouTube. The channel and the Twitter account both appear to be new.
The 38-second video uses footage from Wynne’s own ad in which she jogs along a country road and accuses Wynne of “running from sexism,” in reference to comments recently made by three of her candidates on social media.
On Tuesday, Wynne responded to the incidents involving the candidates, calling them “inappropriate comments,” and suggesting that all politicians needed to be more circumspect on social media.
Several other parody Twitter accounts pretend to be the Liberal leader, including one that points readers to a “Lieberal” website with a tag line “Its (sic) Evolutionary: Lies. Libel. Liberal.” That website seems to lump the provincial and federal Liberal parties together — the splash page features a photo of MP Stéphane Dion.
Progresssive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak also has a parody account. @TimHordak “aspires to one day rule Ontario with a literal iron fist,” according to the Twitter bio. A recent tweet: “Listen to me. I have a plan for 1 million jobs. First: eliminate 100,000 jobs. Then: eliminate 900,000 jobs. Then: robot wasps. #onpoli”
Will Stewart, director of media for Tim Hudak’s campaign, said the party isn’t seeing anything usual. “We respond to them on a case-by-case basis,” said Stewart.
The NDP is not immune. This week a video surfaced on YouTube criticizing John Vanthof, the incumbent for Timiskaming-Cochrane. The video, entitled “John Vanthof thinks your problems are funny,” accuses Vanthof of laughing at the problems of a constituent, among other things.
Social media is a natural place for people to air their feelings on any topic, and the election campaign has been no exception.
Negative reaction toward the leaders and their parties on Twitter is highest for the Hudak’s PCs, according to an Ipsos Reid analysis. A sampling of 45,745 tweets from the first week of the campaign (May 2-9) found that 58 per cent of comments mentioning Hudak and the PCs contained negative sentiments.
Wynne and the Liberals were criticized in about 43 per cent of the tweets mentioning them.
Ipsos Reid noted that the buzz around the NDP was more balanced with 24 per cent negative and 20 per cent positive commentary, with the remainder seen as being neutral.
- With files from Rob Benzie