Samantha Bee used to point out the idiocy of governments being in charge of selling alcohol when she was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Most of the American audience was likely clueless as to what she was talking about.
The idea of the government setting the price of beer sounds odd to a journalist who has studied Canada for more than a decade.
Going into the 2018 Ontario election, the minimum price for a can or bottle of beer was $1.25. If you live in Ontario, you likely aren't finding too many beers at $1.25. Craft sodas are more expensive than a $1.25 price for beer.
Doug Ford decided that the $1.25 minimum was too high and campaigned on buck-a-beer: $1 for the cost of a beer.
The strategy worked. Sometimes politics is about things that won't actually matter but sound good.
Ontario News Now sounds good but actually does matter. The name Ontario News Now sounds real and might even look real if you are buzzed on buck-a-beer. Ontario News Now is not a real news organisation, just an extension of the Ford Government.
The creation of a fake news network is sadly not the surprise: the surprise is that Ontario taxpayers are paying to produce the videos.
You might remember we wrote about Lyndsey Vanstone, who during the campaign was the executive assistant to Ford and his senior communications adviser, with a microphone pretending to objectively interview Doug Ford.
Vanstone is now the deputy director of communication for the Progressive Conservatives caucus services and is the face of Ontario News Now.
Taxpayers fund the caucus services. The provincial auditor general could audit public spending on the caucus services but has never done so. In 2015, the Liberals watering down the auditor general's power to determine if ads are too partisan.
Ontario News Now is doing marketing as opposed to advertising but is falsely portraying itself as news. That should certainly fall in some unethical category.
Canada has had tougher standards on cable news channels, which is why Sun News Network didn't last long and Fox News Channel thrives despite not being a real journalism outlet.
Ontario News Now is not claiming to be a news outlet yet looks and breathes like a news outlet.
Journalism may seem like a dying art when people can be successful doing what seems like news but isn't and good, talented people are struggling who want to do what journalism is supposed to do but can't find a way to do so. This is especially true in Canada.
The group that needs journalism the most is those folks who like the call for beer-a-buck. They work hard knowing that their money can't be wasted. They expect the same from their government.
If they get their "news" from Ontario News Now, they might not know that Ontario stands to lose $2.8 billion from lost carbon tax credits held by Ontario companies or the $30 million that will be spent on fighting a federal carbon tax or the countless money spent on the consequences of going back in time for sex education in the province.
Real journalism means real accountability to those in power, regardless of party. Spend 25¢ less on a beer is appealing but the taste of that $1 beer can't mask the losses coming out of the other side of the Ford Government.
photo credit: Ontario News Now/Facebook; Doug Ford campaign