Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Maybe he's getting help from the Russians?

TL:DR, Someone or some group is filing frivolous impersonation claims against Twitter accounts that criticise or parody Doug Ford, and Twitter is shutting them down without appeal. @DougFordFacts is the latest account hit. If this continues, political speech will be stifled.


You may remember us as RobFordFacts from the 2014 Toronto Mayoral election. We provided fact-basedresearched and sourced analysis during Rob and Doug's campaigns for mayor. We're under no illusion about the impact of these efforts on the larger election, though we did (legally!) leak Rob Ford's Transit Strategy the day before his big reveal.
Things calmed down after Doug's loss, but we kept the (rather dated) www.RobFordFacts.ca, placeholder www.DougFordFacts.ca and Twitter sites going because we were pretty sure Doug would be taking another run at the top job. With Doug's pre-announcement of his candidacy and the stadium shenanigans we started posting again.

The Ban

All was good until yesterday, when we received a notice that our Twitter account had been suspended. We filed the appeal and were informed that the account was "in violation of the policy on impersonation" and would not be restored. This is exactly what happened with the DougFrod parody account a few weeks ago.
Here's what the Twitter policy states, and our response:
Requirements for parody, newsfeed, commentary, and fan accounts.
Here are the requirements for marking your account. All requirements must be met in order to comply with our parody policy.
Bio: The bio should indicate that the user is not affiliated with the account subject by stating a word such as "parody," "fake," "fan," or "commentary," and be done so in a way that would be understood by the intended audience.
  • The account bio states "Judging Doug Ford by his record, and it ain't pretty. Not affiliated with @FordNation."
  • The bio and name link to www.dougfordfacts.ca, which is clearly not an official site.
Account name: The name should not be the exact name of the account subject without some other distinguishing word, such as "not," "fake," or "fan," and be done so in a way that would be understood by the intended audience.
Accounts determined to be in violation of our impersonation policy, or those not in compliance with our parody, commentary, and fan account policy, will either be suspended or asked to update the account(s) so they no longer violate our policies.
  • The account has never referred to Doug Ford in the first person, and it's immediately obvious that this is a third-party political commentary account. Nobody in their right mind would conclude that this is an official account.
  • We were not provided with an opportunity to update the account. We've received a few of these frivolous notices over the past four years and have always in good faith promptly made the text even more explicit. Twitter has never explained why there is suddenly a critical problem, or how to fix it.

What's Next

Like it or not, Twitter is an important forum for public discourse. If politicians or their supporters are able to flood Twitter with frivolous reports to shut down criticism it will have a chilling, undemocratic effect. Twitter needs to provide more context and direction on these policies.
Those who wish to criticise our politicians publicly should be aware that your efforts can be shut down immediately, with no recourse.
As for us, we're still active at www.DougFordFacts.ca and on Facebook. We will file an appeal on the appeal but but it's not looking good. We'd like to continue with Twitter, but really we have no idea what to do to prevent further arbitrary bans.
Rest assured, if and when Doug Ford files to run for public office we will be there with the facts.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

RobFordFacts.ca is now DougFordFacts.ca, because you know why

It was a hell of a ride, and it looks like the next roller coaster is about to roll in from Chicago. Lucky us.

At some point we'll update everything, but for now you can look back through the archives and wonder what in god's name Toronto was smoking from 2010-2014.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Yesterday's vote against ranked ballots was Council looking out for itself

Why yesterday's vote against ranked ballots was all about Council looking out for itself, and not Torontonians

We're taking a break from Ford posts to provide some insights on yesterday's vote by Toronto City Council on voter reform. Council voted "yes" to ask the province to kill off the proposed option for ranked ballots in Ontario municipal elections.

Council voted 25-18 Thursday night to ask the province not to allow ranked choice voting, after rookie Councillor Justin Di Ciano introduced a motion calling for the reversal, saying that voting method is too “confusing.”
So were they acting in the best interests of Torontonians, or themselves? Logic dictates that a councillor with a slim margin of victory or a low overall share of the vote would be against a ranked ballot, because it increases the chance of a second-place finisher overtaking them on the instant runoff. A councillor with >50% of the vote likely wouldn't care either way, since they would win on the first ballot. Someone close to the 50% mark probably shouldn't be too concerned either.

So let's look at the vote. In this chart, we've mapped out the 2014 share of popular vote for each councillor, sorted by how they just voted on ranked ballots (click to enlarge):

Note: The motion was "Yes" to oppose ranked ballots, we've reversed the categories above to make it clearer

A few items to note: First off, only 25% of councillors with less than 50% of the vote support ranked ballots (surprise!). Councillors with 50% or more of the vote share were slightly in favour of ranked ballots. The average share of vote by the ranked supporters was 60%, while the average share for the status quo was 53%. Sorting by margin of victory (% of total votes more than the second place finisher) showed a similar distribution.

Comparing against 2010 results is also very instructive. Councillors who saw their share of the vote drop between 2010 and 2014 were less likely to support ranked ballots, and newcomers were much less likely:

  • Support grew by 10% or more 2010-2014: 50% support ranked ballots (t=14)
  • Support grew by less than 10% or shrank 2010-2014: 43% support ranked ballots (t=21)
  • New candidate in 2014: 25% support ranked ballots (t=8) 

Was October 1st, 2015, a great victory for democracy in the City of Toronto? Not particularly.

You can learn more about the ranked ballot initiative and why it's such a good idea over at 123toronto.ca.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fact #43: City employees helped Rob Ford drive drunk

What's this all about?

On April 30th, the City of Toronto Ombudsman released a report on how Rob Ford used City Hall's security department as a private enforcement racket. When not knocking reporters down or filming taxpayers attending Council meetings, City hall employees kept themselves busy by helping their blind-drunk mayor drive home:

On more than one occasion, Security allowed the former Mayor to use an entrance to exit from the underground parking lot, in order to leave City Hall without encountering waiting media. On one of those occasions, a security guard covered a security video camera recording the mayor while he walked, reportedly intoxicated, to his car. In the second instance, the Director of Security told staff the Mayor should not be allowed to exit through an entrance ramp.

Why should I care?

We already knew that (taxpayer-funded) City employees drove Rob to his crack binges, and that Rob used his taxpayer-funded office for campaigning, but this is a new low even for him. Think of the children, think of the poor kittens, think of the Escalade's carpeting - whatever works. Any way you look at it, driving drunk is just sleazy. Helping to cover it up makes you accessory to a crime. But he saved us a billion dollars* so we're cool with it, right?

The one saving grace is that he probably got an escort home from Toronto Police....

How do I know you're not lying?


*he didn't

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Did Doug Ford just announce that he's running for Premier in 2022?

Ok, so I'll admit that Doug's announcement that he isn't running for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party was unexpected. However, on reflection I think what he's actually done is announce his intention to run in 2022. Here's why:

  • We can safely assume that staying out for the good of his family of university-aged children is total BS
  • Ford does have considerable support in the 416/905 and would have been a contender for the leadership
  • Ford's desire to be premier is well-documented
  • Ford clearly has no interest in the daily grind of politics. A lengthy spell in the opposition benches would not be his cup of tea
  • Ford owes Flaherty a few chits, but he's clearly not doing this just to be nice to Christine Elliott
  • The PCPO may have insisted he place Deco in a blind trust as leader, but it's not in good enough shape to do that just yet
  • Someone may have some really dirty dirt on him, and/or the PCPO won't let him get involved until the Conflict of Interest case is settled
Based on what we know to date, this is probably what Doug is thinking:

  1. Elliott has this one locked up so long as he stays out of the race
  2. Elliott would be receptive to a "deal" that keeps him out of the race
  3. Deco needs some love and attention for a few years, and his siblings are useless at business
  4. Elliott stands a good chance of winning government in 2018
  5. If he agrees to stay out of the PCPO race and back Elliott, he can probably secure the nomination in Etobicoke North and have Elliott commit to putting him in cabinet
  6. Elliott will be 67 in 2022, so she's probably going to be a one-termer
  7. Assuming Elliott becomes premier and he's a cabinet minister, that leaves him in a perfect position to take over the leadership and the premiership without ever having spent an elected minute outside of government
There's also the chance that Ford will run this time around - but Elliott would need to drop out (or get pushed out). It's not like the Ford's have ever been involved in ploys to keep people from running...

Doug's big "Surprise"

And as the Toronto media dutifully trucks up to Deco for Doug Ford's "surprise" announcement, keep in mind that running for PC Leader was Doug's plan from Day One.