Archive for February 2015

Forced to tweet in both languages, ministers lose their impact

Fellow OII-er Elizabeth Dubois and I published an op-ed in the Globe today analyzing the Official Languages Commissioner's decision that all Ministers should tweet equally in French and English. We argue that in their official capacity as Minister, that is, speaking for their department, bilingualism is both sensible and required under Canada's Official Languages Act. But as an individual MP, there may be good reasons to tweet unilingually (if say, your constituents are predominantly French, tweets in English may be odd and pointless), and there are no legal restrictions demanding the MP does otherwise. The issue: Minister's accounts are often a mix of "ministerial tweets" and "individual MP tweets". The neat and tidy categories of communication that were at play when the Official Languages Act was created have collapsed in the digital age. The Commissioner's ruling doesn't account for this, but rather attempts to apply old rules to a new context. This op-ed outlines why this approach is a problem, and suggests that a hybrid approach to regulating a Minister's tweets would better account for the new, digital media environment.

Check it out here.

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