Edmonton city councillor Michael Oshry has asked city staff to review the city’s advertising policy after a Twitter storm erupted when City of Edmonton ads appeared on The Rebel. It is a right-wing news organization website run by political commentator Ezra Levant.
“Are there any policies or guidelines to ensure that media choices comply with the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusion?” Oshry asked during Tuesday’s council meeting.
A group of Twitter users has been taking screen shots of ads appearing on The Rebel website. They then share the screenshots with the company and ask if that’s the type of site they want to be associated with.
“The city doesn’t control specifically which websites their advertising gets placed on,” Oshry said, not referring to The Rebel by name. “However the city can say we don’t want it on certain websites.”
Oshry said the ad did show up on the website, but the city didn’t place it there on purpose. He said it showed up as part of the distributors’ advertising buy.
“Once it was flagged I talked to administration and they agreed it was not appropriate use of the city’s funds so they had it removed.”
Right now a policy about where city advertisements appear doesn’t exist. Oshry is hoping this discussion changes that.
“We talk about inclusivity and bringing people together and there’s very few but there are some websites that are not appropriate. They do the exact opposite of that.
“They’re borderline racist, some of them, and so we need to make sure our advertising doesn’t go to contribute to those sorts of places.”
“Not only are we sending our dollars to those websites but I’d argue, almost more importantly, we spend a lot of time and effort demonstrating that we’re an inclusive city and then when you go and put our advertising on websites that are the opposite of that – it really undermines the work that we’re doing as a city.”
Rebel Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.