The King of Conservative Social Media

Written by Harold McNeill on September 16th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Jeff Ballingall cares not one iota about he posts as long as he can secure a win for the Conservatives?

This post originally followed the news articles on Mr. Ballingall with the word “shitposting” frequently used.  I originally used it on this post but it made me feel uncomfortable so I changed the title to something less controversial.  However, the use of shitposting tactics has propelled Ballingall and Associates to the top of the leaderboard in capturing voter attention and he could do again this October if the center-left of politics do not get their collective ducks in order.

In another major change and following the defeat of Rachel Notley (photo below), the provinces are once again dominated by an all-male cast of heavy-hitting Conservative males.

The above photo speaks a thousand words about the state of our country in terms of gender equity.  Rachel Notley is now a footnote in history and if Andrew Sheer is placed in the Prime Ministers office, women will all but disappear on the Federal and Provincial scene. In case you forgot, over the past few years, women have been among the toughest adversaries on the Federal stage. Think for a moment about Chrystia Freeland the woman who took on Donald Trump and won in the NAFTA negotiations. While all was not smooth, they held their own in the dog eat dog world of politics.

Over the past few months, Ballingall and Associates carried Ford, Kenny, Moe, Pallister, Higgs, and the King of PEI on their shoulders and all now sit as Premiers in an unprecedented sweep of the country.   Today, the impish, smiling face of Andrew Sheer is their poster boy, and for Sheer, the same group engineered his rise to the leadership of the Conservatives over one-time party favourite Maxime Bernier.

Some suggest a wave of populism is sweeping Canada, but I beg to differ, it’s a wave of Conservative Shitposting that makes it seem that way and it only takes a handful of populists at the core to accomplish the task.  Following is a sample of the type of comment found on Ontario Proud during the provincial election and this is mild stuff across the spectrum of their posts and tweets.

That ugly nasty greedy no good money grubbing snot faced witch”; “The ugliest human dyke who ever existed”; and “I’m surprised that no one has shot her but maybe the bullets cost to much.” (Quote from Canadaland article)

Memes of Kathleen Wynne

Ballingall states they try to weed out the most horrific comments and perhaps they do, but they only need leave them up for a few hours in order to get thousands of views and shares and then it’s there forever to be shared by someone else. The above screenshot was taken today (Sept 15, 2019).  Take a quick peek at the sites were some of their stuff is shared.

As for taking down the worst of the worst, it’s not unlike Andrew Sheer stating he does not support such posts yet never takes the time to distance himself or the party from the likes of Ballingall and Associates.  Never once did you hear Doug Ford suggest many of the posts were out of line as he used the same language on the hustings much the way Donald Trump has done and continues to do.

We can’t change Sheer or the party insiders, so let’s go out and find the ways and means to win the election.  In order to get a better idea of what we are up against, take a bit of time to read the original Shitposting article.

How to Win an Election in Canada

As we complete the first few days of the campaign, I met an ardent Conservative friend who just came from a local Conservative Party organizing meeting. My friend hates Justin Trudeau with a passion that goes well beyond the pale. Whenever we meet I try to avoid mentioning politics, but it’s hard with an election just around the corner and he thrives on his daily dose of shitposting, particularly if it involves anything that promotes hatred of Trudeau and the Liberals.

Yet, when I scan the broad spectrum of Conservative friends, they are pretty good folks who are generally as revolted as I am by race-baiting, fear-mongering and the spread of fake news, yet they are powerless to do anything about it.  Most refuse to share vile material but often give a free pass to fake news.

Of course, the undisputed leader of shitposting is Jeff Ballingall (1), a blogger, and social media specialist. Ballingall and his buddies like Larry Brandt (2), pulled out all the stops as the go-to service for the Federal and Provincial Conservative parties.  Both men are closely connected to the inner circles, with Brandt having served as Andrew Sheer’s Campaign Chair in Manitoba

A couple of days back on September 13, 2019, the CBC aired Part 2 of their series on Fake News in which Ballingall was a featured spokesperson.  Ballingall made no bones about how he is ready, willing and able to manipulate his social media followers with trash memes and fake news.  And, he made it clear Elections Canada can’t do a damn thing about it as he has declared his third-party status on social media, and he’ll not come close to reaching the spending limits.  Is Ballingall a Conservative?  I don’t know, but it doesn’t make any difference as what he does is a business and he’s up for sale to the highest bidder.

That Ballingall and others know their business, was clearly demonstrated after Ontario Proud and a dozen other social media sites and blogs were instrumental in propelling Doug Ford to the leadership of the Ontario Conservative Party. You may remember the unseemly demise of Patrick Brown, the Conservative leader who Doug Ford replaced in a coup d’état. For a day by day outline of smears that killed Patrick Brown and gave rise of Doug Ford, go to Part 5 of The Changing Landscape. article posted some months back.

A few weeks after taking over the leadership and beyond all odds, Doug Ford became premier with a significant majority. It was no doubt one of the most dishonest, manipulated elections in recent Canadian history, one which the NDP might have won had it not been for Ballingall and his group.  Not many months ago, Jason Kenny buried the Wild Rose and Brian Jean then took the Premiership in a manner similar to that followed by Doug Ford.

With all this going on in the background it’s unlikely populism is at the core. While the extreme right of the Conservative party only occupies a niche within the larger party, the majority is now held hostage by those powerful backroom forces controlled by Ford, Kenny, Pallister, and Sheer who might well be called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

What does the future hold?

The great advantage of a political party having much of their social media presence held at arm’s length is the ability to promote divisions while at the same time denying support for material that is hateful, derogatory and degrading to individuals and groups.

Take, for example, the ongoing dispute the Conservatives have with Maxine Bernier and his Tweets and other positions he holds. The heir apparent was defeated by Andrew Sheer by the narrowest of margins, margins that Bernier claims were ‘fake votes.’ Given the revelations about the subterfuge in many Ontario Conservative ridings and then the rise of Doug Ford to the leadership, just adds fuel to the fires of suspicion.  The fact that many former staffers with the Conservative Party have become leaders in the field promoting all kinds of divisions within Canada, adds more fire.

Each day these party insiders at the provincial and federal level add hundreds of meme’s, tweets and videos pushing hate, fear, fake news, and disparaging comments about other parties and party leaders, but when Maxime Bernier posts something racist, hateful or disparaging of immigrants or others, Andrew Sheer, leader becomes apoplectic.  You can’t have it both ways Andrew, or can you?

The same thing is done when the Liberals, NDP or Greens does something which they suggest “shuts down publicRacist Meme comment” as in Quebec when Trudeau took a woman to task for her racist comments about immigrants.
Only after Andrew Sheer and the party discovered the woman was in fact deeply racist and belonged to a number of far-right hate groups, did they begin to walk back their comments?  However, if you check the Conservative social media pages, blogs, and talk shows, that message is still being spread far and wide.   Screenshot (above):  This was the lead post on August 24, 2018, on the Manitoba Canada Campaign FB page.  The site is managed by Larry Brandt, Andrew Sheer’s Manitoba Leadership Campaign Manager.

In this new age of social media political skullduggery, it will be difficult for any party not willing to use similar techniques, to gain and hold the upper hand.  While I realize the Liberals, NDP and Greens are not above using questionable tactics, it is my sense they would find it difficult to begin an online campaign such as that run by the Conservatives and their arms-length staffers as there is a general abhorrence of such tactics.

Many understand victory can no longer be won on the hustings or by having a well-crafted party platform, and as long as the Greens, NDP, and Liberals sit in different camps, with the Greens and NDP picking away at the Prime Minister and Liberals, they are doomed to fail.  The Greens might win a few battles by adding extra seats, but they will lose the war they are fighting on the climate front as they take down the Liberals and propel the Conservatives to power. They might wish for a minority position as they hold in BC, but that is highly unlikely as the NDP will most likely be in third place.

All Sheer and the far-right Conservatives need do is sit back and goad the parties of the left into consuming one another. Depending on the percentage taken by the Greens, as little as 30% of the vote could hand the government to Sheer. Right now they are sitting at 34%.  Think about that for a moment.

The only real course of action for the Greens, NDP, and Liberals, who collectively represent 65-70% of moderate Canadians, is to start talking to one another about shared values such as their positions on climate change.

You can be damned sure the Conservatives have no interest in the subject as Jason Kenny and his group just set aside $60 million to fight the Federal Carbon tax and that money is not subject to any campaign finance laws.

To my friends with the Greens, NDP, and Liberals, who do you want sitting in the Prime Ministers office at the end of October?  It’s a choice you must make and you must make it soon.

Harold McNeill
September 16, 2019

Link here to another discussion of Federal Politics The SNC Lavalin Affair

Footnotes

(1) Ontario Proud, as well as other Proud sites across Canada, were founded by former federal Conservative staffer Jeff Ballingall at the height of the furor over Ontario’s hydro rates in February 2016. An article in the Globe and Mail stated,

“… when it comes to how we get information in the digital age – the tone and tribalism of political discourse, who influences it and how, what it is likely to look like in this year’s Ontario election as well as campaigns nationwide – Mr. Ballingall’s claims can’t be dismissed out of hand. Working virtually alone, he is managing to simultaneously make a mockery of his province’s new electoral finance laws, and to demonstrate that there is a huge market here for the sort of bias-reinforcing social media content that has polarized electorates around the Western world.”

The Finance Law to which Ballingall refers was put in place only months before the Ontario election and was intended to limit the power of unions and big business from carrying out massive campaigns targetting one side or the other.  For third party groups, the limit was $600,000 leading up to the election and $100,000  from the day the writ was dropped to election day.  No one promoting a parties interest on social media would come even close to spending those kinds of dollars.

(2) Larry Brandt, another Conservative with long and close ties to the party, opened his first Canada Campaign FB Page in Manitoba and has since expanded across Canada. On his Twitter Site, he claims the following connections, “former MB organizer for Andrew Scheer’s leadership race. Board Exec for MP James Bezan’s Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman EDA, and former prez for MLA Derek Johnson.” Both Proud and the Canada Campaign share similar memes and videos.

Both the Proud and Canada Campaign along with dozens of other similar sites act “as official third-party advertisers in provincial and federal elections,” and those sites, “know how to weaponize social media platforms in the same manner which proved effective for the successful populist movements of Brexit and the last US election.

(3) In early 2018, the Proud Facebook page boasted 289,000 likes and by the time of the election in June, boasted 395,000. If the vast majority of those who like the page were Ontarians, as Jeff Ballingall asserted, by the time of the election he was reaching 1 in 34 Ontarians.

That’s more likes than the respective pages of Premier Wynne, the Ontario Liberal Party, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, the Ontario PC Party, NDP leader Andrea Horwath, and the Ontario NDP — combined. The Ontario Proud page also “gets more Facebook engagement than the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail pages together, something Ballingall is fond of gloating about.”

The following statistics were published by the Proud after the election and the accomplishments, if correct, were significant.

63,644,903 Facebook impressions
2,197,421 Twitter impressions
Over 9,400,000 video views on Facebook
Over 2,500,000 phone calls made
Over 1,000,000 text messages sent
15,000 brochures distributed at transit stations

Take a few minutes to scan the Blog, Facebook Page, Twitter accounts of Ontario Proud and their ideological partners.   Link here for an outline of what one lone wolf can accomplish.

LINKS

Samples of Conservative Party associated FB Pages and Web Sites There are dozens more, as they seem to come and go and many are interconnected as many use the same content.

The King of Canadian Shitposting: A good summary of the type of attack now being mounted through social media.

United Conservatives Movement of Canada FB Page: Anti-Liberal, Pro-Conservative, no names provided of Movement Managers.  (Broken Link)

Jeff Ballingall:  Background on his Proud movement (more background)

Alberta Proud:  Jeff Ballingall

British Columbia Proud:  Jeff Ballingall

Take Back Your Power Canada:  Jeff Ballingall

Saskatchewan Proud:  Jeff Ballingall

Quebec Proud:  Jeff Ballingall.   The link is now broken????

Ontario Proud Blog  Jeff Ballingall


Manitoba Canada Campaign
:   Larry Brandt, another Conservative with long and close ties to the party, opened his first Canada Campaign FB Page in Manitoba and has since expanded across Canada.

On his Twitter Site, he claims the following connections, “former MB organizer for Andrew Scheer’s leadership race. Board Exec for MP James Bezan’s Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman EDA, and former prez for MLA Derek Johnson.” Both Proud and the Canada Campaign share similar memes and videos.

Other sites by Larry Brandt:

The Cultural Action Party is an anti-multicultural political party registered in the province of British Columbia, Canada, and previously registered in Ontario.   Founded by social conservative activist Brad Salzberg

Canadian Conservatives:   Larry Brandt

Canada Free Press   Brad Salzberg

Immigration Watch Canada No name but have Contact Us  email address

Saskatchewan Canada Campaign:  Larry Brandt

Alberta Canada Campaign:  Larry Brandt

Quebec Canada Campaign:  Larry Brandt

Ontario Canada Campaign:  Larry Brandt

Take Back Your Power Canada:  Jeff Ballingall

Miscellaneous Sites

Canadian Political Memes  No contact or administrator detail

United Conservative Movement of Canada  No contact or administrator detail  (Link now broken)

Canadians for Liberty FB Page:  Managed by Matt Southysupports Maxime Bernier vision

Aaron Gunn FB Page:   BC Based political commentator and closely connected to the Proud and Canada Campaign sites.

Aaron Gunn Linked In:    Represent the BC Proud organization in public forums and respond to media requests …..  Produce video content for BC Proud’s social media channels (over 10 million views)

Aaron Gunn.ca:  More of same.

Westwatch Canada  Watching out for Western Canada

True North News  Online Newspaper formate

The Post Millennial  A wide range of coverage in news form.

 

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Comments

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold