John A. Macdonald didn’t have to deal with it. Neither did William Lyon Mackenzie King, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau or even Stephen Harper.
But, in this, the 21st Century, everyone is having to deal with social media, and politicians are no exception.
Recently, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was sued by three people he blocked on Twitter. They claimed he violated their charter rights.
And Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP, Randy Hillier, isn’t immune either.
Hillier recently blocked Perth resident Jeff Collver on Facebook over a disagreement over the PC Provincial government’s decision to repeal Ontario’s cap and trade system.
Collver decided to go public with Hillier’s ban after the Watson incident.
“He blocked me too,” Hillier said in an interview this week.
Hillier said he sees his Facebook page as his forum, not an extension of the government and certainly not an ‘official’ communications outlet.
“There’s no requirement for MPPs to have a Facebook page,” he said. “It’s not an official communication channel for my business as an MPP and thus no one has a guaranteed right to either access its contents or post to it.”
Having said that, he did acknowledge that it can be a good communication tool, but no more so than the phone, mail, email, fax or a visit in person to his office.
“There are no rigid statutes for social media, just policies,” he said “And do we need statutes? I hope not.
“We have too many laws as it is.”
As far as policy goes, Hillier said he tries to treat social media as he does his office code of conduct.
“If a person comes in asking for assistance, we don’t ask them if they’re Liberal or Conservative,” he said. “But if they start swearing, I’ll throw them out.”
He said he has about 20,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter so “I must be doing something right.
“If there wasn’t good content, people would go elsewhere.”
He pointed out that media outlets like CBC moderate what goes on their pages and he intends to continue doing so.
“I’m having my hootenanny Dec. 16 with the Bowes Brothers at the Grand Hotel in Carleton Place,” he said. “It’s open to everyone.
“Nobody will be blocked unless they get unruly.”