Twitter announced today that it will accept political ads and reveal which segments of the population advertisers are targeting during the 2019 Canadian election campaign.
The news ends the mystery over how the company will deal with new election ad disclosure rules.
Bill C-76, which Parliament approved in December, requires large websites that accept political advertising during the campaign – and a new pre-writ period that starts June 30 – to create an online catalogue of ads that reveals who paid for them.
Facebook Canada has already said it will comply, while Google Canada said it will not because the rules are too complicated.
Twitter Canada will not accept ads during the pre-writ period because the company says it needs more time to prepare. However, it does intend to accept ads and disclose details during the campaign itself.
Facebook Canada has said it will reveal a breakdown by age group, sex and province as to who viewed each political ad, but will not reveal the specific demographics that an advertiser requested to target. Twitter Canada said its information will include the demographic targets selected by advertisers.
“There is increasingly an expectation that people have really granular transparency and access to information around political ads,” said Ian Plunkett, Twitter’s global director of public policy communications, in an interview.
Mr. Plunkett and Michele Austin, Twitter Canada’s head of government policy, said the company has made significant progress in removing phony accounts – or bots – run by software programs from the platform.
Some Canadian MPs have urged the company to ban satirical accounts that impersonate MPs and ban anonymous accounts, but the company officials said those measures are not under consideration.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau are on a plane on their way to Japan this morning to participate in the Group of 20 leaders’ summit. Mr. Trudeau asked U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month if he would bend the ear of Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to de-escalate tensions between Canada and China. Things become tense starting in December when Canadian authorities followed through on a U.S. request to arrest Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou, who is currently under house arrest in Vancouver and going through the extradition process.
... and speaking of those tensions, China last night upped the ante with a temporary ban on meat imports from Canada. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa said the suspension is due to a falsified export certificate for a batch of pork products that were inspected by Chinese customs agents. China has also blocked canola imports. An analyst of the meat industry said the ban may not be lifted until diplomatic relations between the two countries improve.
The government last year blocked three exports of military goods to China because they were contrary to Canada’s “foreign and defence policy.”
The government is also being called on to repatriate its citizens in Syria who travelled there to join the Islamic State. There are estimated to be at least 33 Canadians among two camps, a number that includes 18 children.
A new secretariat will investigate systemic racism at federal institutions.
The Saskatchewan government will get its day in court to challenge the national carbon tax. The province says the Supreme Court of Canada has penciled them in for Dec. 5 – some six weeks after the federal election.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has ordered a review of all pending patronage appointments after finding out there was yet another relative and a friend of his former chief of staff Dean French on the public payroll.
And something to watch on your lunch break: Boris Johnson, the front-runner to lead Britain’s Conservative Party and become prime minister, tries to explain to an interviewer what he does in his spare time. It involves paint, wooden crates and buses.
Ian McGugan (The Globe and Mail) on buffoonery among the political elite: “What has turned politicians into such a hapless lot? [Professor Simon] Wren-Lewis and others argue that one big factor is the lack of life experience among the latest generation of career politicians. Few contemporary leaders have any first-hand knowledge of war or poverty. Most come from comfortable backgrounds and view politics as a game. Their goal isn’t to change the world. It’s to construct issues that can propel their party into power and attract powerful donors.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Andrew Scheer’s policy to address climate change: “The Conservative plan has more holes in it than a fashionable pair of jeans.”
Nadia Alam and Adam Kassam (CBC) on the proposal for national pharmacare: “Many Canadians get good health care when they need it; many others have the exact opposite experience: health care characterized by long wait-times, lack of resources, doctor and nursing shortages, hallway medicine, burnout, and so on. This pattern of evidence suggests that before trying to tackle the necessary challenge that is pharmacare, it is even more essential to improve and modernize the [Canada Health Act] so that patients receive the care they deserve and need.”
Matt Gurney (National Post) on Canada-China relations: “We’re in a fight. Can we start acting like it now? ... China is arresting our citizens and explicitly targeting our economy. Meanwhile, if your phone breaks and you mosey on into a store to replace it, you’ll be dazzled by the massive Huawei displays. There’s an opportunity here. Huawei is closely tied to the Chinese government. It’s also symbolic of China’s economic aspirations. Want to strike back at China? Target Huawei.”