How say you Premier Doer?
The article in today's Globe And Mail (below) about Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty looking for ways to engage young people by using the internet struck a responsive cord.
Had to smile. Not long ago (November 4, 2008) one of our favourite sites, Truth to Power (www.accesstoinfo.blogspot.com) ran an article from Democracy of Hypocrisy hosted by a University of Manitoba distance student living in Windsor, Ontario. No doubt borne of frustration, although they called Mr. McGuinty "Dalton McDork" suggesting he should do something nasty involving the "f" work, the individual was protesting the increasing incursion of the provincial government into citizen lives in particular a $500 fine for driving while preoccupied. We particularly liked their term "driving while intexticated."
We think Manitoba's Premier Doer and his Cabinet should be taking a long, hard look at what their Ontario counterparts are proposing.
Is it realistic in this day and age to expect large turnouts at province-wide public hearings and legislative meetings, especially in the dead of winter, when more and more people are increasingly living in cyberspace? Besides, as poticicians doesn't it ultimately come down to reaching individuals and getting their votes?
And while we're at it, the way our Court system disseminates information in the computer generation is largely antiquated and requires a significant overhaul. Why, for example, subject to certain terms and conditions, of course, are cameras not allowed into courtrooms? In this era of escalating judicial costs and the advent of the unrepresented plaintiff/defendant there isn't a dedicated Manitoba television channel to courtroom proceedures - CPAC does it for the Supreme Court of Canada. Better yet, can't we plug into something that's already there - Shaw's Community Access Channel.
Then there's the issue of greater and better public online access to court records a topic we'll save for another day. So how say you Premier Doer?
Clare L. Pieuk
P.S. Like Ontario does the Manitoba government block access to Facebook?
McGuinty Seeks Teens' Facebook Feedback
November 25, 2008
TORONTO — Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he wants to use cyberspace to engage young people who are upset about his government's proposals to put new restrictions on the province's graduated drivers' licence system.
He said he is "really keen on hearing" from the tens of thousands of people who have joined groups on the Facebook website to oppose the government's plans. But he said calls for province-wide public hearings miss the point because he believes young people will not come to legislative meetings.
"I think we need to find a way to get on Facebook," Mr. McGuinty told reporters today. "I think we need to find a way to engage in a dialogue in a social network where they are."
More than 110,000 people have signed on to the main Facebook site opposing the legislation introduced last week that would extend the zero-tolerance rules for alcohol to any driver aged 21 or under and increase the time it would take to obtain a full licence under the new graduated licensing scheme, which has been in effect for 14 years.
There is little controversy about those moves but there has been a groundswell of cyber opposition to a provision that would prohibit G2-licensed (or intermediate) teen-aged drivers from transporting more than one unrelated teenaged passenger for the first year of their licence.
The amendments to the province's Highway Traffic Safety Act were introduced after the Premier was lobbied by a father whose 20-year-old son crashed his speeding car into a lake last summer after an afternoon of drinking, killing himself and two friends.
Mr. McGuinty earlier called the proposal "a modest restriction on their freedoms" but seemed today to be willing to hear from his teenaged opponents. He said he wants to hear what they are prepared to undertake to keep Ontario's roads safe.
"If not this, then what?" he asked. "What responsibilities, what assurances can they provide us that they'll do what they need to do to keep themselves safe?"
The government would face one hurdle in using Facebook to deal with the new bill's opponents – government computers currently block the website.
"We'll have more to say about this," Mr. McGuinty said when he was told about the Facebook prohibition.