Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says politicians need to learn how to enhance citizen engagement through the use of social media in the face of leaders using those platforms to undermine democracy.
He made the comment Monday morning while speaking at a conference in Paris.
Without mentioning anyone by name, he suggested there are politicians who are trying to use technology to foster polarization in the electorate.
Trudeau said it is easier to push someone into being angry through a well-timed tweet than to pull them into a positive dialogue about issues.
The discussion at the Paris event was driven by U.S. President Donald Trump, who regularly uses Twitter to fire up his legions of followers and vent at his critics.
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Trudeau has been a target of Trump’s irate tweeting, particularly after the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Que., over the prime minister’s comments on trade negotiations.
When asked directly to comment about Trump’s Twitter usage, Trudeau suggested Trump is just being Trump, adding that it’s important people are authentic on Twitter, and the American president is certainly that.
The comments came the day after Trudeau and other world leaders issued dire warnings about leaders calling themselves nationalists and the problems they pose for maintaining the world order built in the aftermath of the world wars.
Again, no names were mentioned, but the warnings seemed clearly aimed at Trump who has repeatedly professed his “American” nationalism.
Trudeau also took time at the conference to tout his government’s progress on digitizing the way it delivers services.
The prime minister has made the use of technology and data a priority in providing government programs to Canadians through digital channels alongside better, more up to date information to feed federal decisions.
In September, the federal government launched its new “digital standards” to help public servants navigate their way towards what the Liberals call an “effective digital government.”
But there have been hiccups along the way.
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A pilot project from Statistics Canada to scoop up anonymized and randomized banking transactions on 500,000 Canadians has faced steep criticism from opposition parties in the House of Commons.
And internal documents obtained by The Canadian Press paint a clearer picture of detailed work underway to overcome the challenges the civil service faces in meeting the Liberals’ digital goals.
Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act suggest challenges in how to handle vast amounts of disparate data, the funding needed to acquire or generate data to fill gaps, and “legal and cultural impediments to sharing and accessing data.”
Later today, the prime minister will travel to Singapore for a summit organized by a 10-nation bloc that will put his government’s trade diversification plans on display.
Trudeau is on a 10-day trip across Europe and Asia that began Friday with a gathering of world leaders in France to mark a century since the end of the First World War.