What a time to be a Bluenoser.
Canada’s Ocean Playground is the latest province to get its very own branch plant of the deeply cynical Ontario Proud Facebook page.
Nova Scotia Proud launched Oct. 29 and has already attracted about 2,000 followers. It provides the same mix of feel-good posts and misleading political invective as its Ontario cousin. For example, on one hand it will laud the achievements of Sidney Crosby or celebrate a Sikh man who “thinks everyone should say Merry Christmas.” On the other, it will falsely claim that “(Justin) Trudeau is more concerned about construction workers than returning ISIS terrorists,” or post a meme headlined “Shocking illegal border crosser statistics” with an invocation to “Pass this on because Trudeau doesn’t want you to.”
In many cases, the videos, memes and posts appearing on Nova Scotia Proud are sourced directly from Ontario Proud. Posts from Alberta Proud, New Brunswick Proud and Canada Proud are also shared.
Nova Scotia Proud also posts videos by Aaron Gunn, a right-wing activist, BC Proud spokesman and former staffer at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Gunn’s media credits include appearances on Rebel Media, Big Oil shill Ezra Levant’s outrage/fundraising machine.
I contacted Nova Scotia Proud by Facebook Messenger this morning and asked to speak to someone about the page. Although my first message was read in less than 60 seconds, and my second was viewed in a matter of minutes, neither elicited a response by time of publication.
So who runs Nova Scotia Proud? Is Ontario Proud boss Jeff Ballingall behind it?
Ballingall, of course, has taken credit for helping elect Doug Ford premier of Ontario. His group operated as a third-party advertiser during the province’s general election, spending at least $60,000 on television ads and even deploying door-to-door canvassers. Ballingall has indicated he is setting his sights squarely on toppling Justin Trudeau in next year’s federal election. Nova Scotia Proud seems intent on doing the same.
Indeed, while the page takes the occasional swipe at Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil, its main focus is Trudeau. Nearly 20 per cent of the posts on Nova Scotia Proud are aimed at the prime minister. Fewer than five per cent attack the premier.
McNeil is a difficult target for conservatives. Nova Scotia’s government is firmly dedicated to austerity and has brought in successive surplus budgets. The province has the lowest minimum wage in the country, provides miserly rates of social assistance and recently embraced a massive P3 project to fund new medical facilities. What’s not to love for right-wingers?
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if Nova Scotia Proud is a franchise of Ballingall’s operation or a truly grassroots initiative led by actual Bluenosers. The goal is the same (unseat Trudeau). The tactics are identical, too (appeal to the lowest common denominator).
I have plenty of criticisms for the Trudeau government myself, but they aren’t the same ones that preoccupy the “Proud” peddlers. The prime minister and his government are fair game, of course, but these Facebook pages are dumbing down political discourse at an alarming rate.
Just like its Ontario counterpart, Nova Scotia Proud is playing to people’s worst instincts, reinforcing negative stereotypes and distilling issues in a way that is unfair, unbalanced and unhealthy for our democracy.