UCP taking ‘corrective action’ after comments during Kenney Facebook Live blocked by staff

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WATCH: Concerned Albertans are speaking out after they say their dissenting voices were blocked from a livestream hosted by the premier. The province says it has taken "corrective action." Sarah Ryan explains.
Some Albertans who tuned in to a livestream on Premier Jason Kenney’s Facebook page over the weekend say they had their comments muted or were blocked from the page, leading to the UCP to admit Monday that for at least one case, “[comments] should not have been moderated.”

Kenney was announcing the creation of a “Fair Deal Panel” that will examine ways to make Alberta more independent of Ottawa.

READ MORE: Premier Jason Kenney announces ‘Fair Deal Panel’ to advance Alberta’s interests, like pipelines

Throughout the feed, which went live on Saturday afternoon, users could comment in real-time as the premier gave his speech. However, some users told Global News that shortly after their comments were posted, they were removed or muted.

“Tons of people were blocked tonight [Saturday] during the livestream just for sharing an opinion,” Allison Dakin said in a message to Global News.
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“How can we have a democratic voice when we are muted?”

The Spruce Grove resident wasn’t alone. Global News spoke to a handful of other residents who experienced the same problem, including Bryan Worobec from Vegreville.

In a screenshot, taken before his comment was removed, he had written: “Albertans value public education, health care and social services — you and your party do not.”

He feels his statements shouldn’t have been viewed as block-worthy.

“I did not use offensive language. I did not threaten anyone,” Worobec said.

In Mundare, Allison Moroz felt the same way. The comments that got her blocked? That education and health care were not getting fair deals.

“It just doesn’t feel like he’s hearing all of the constituents out there; just, you know, what he wants to hear,” Moroz said.

The teacher said she tells her students about the right to free speech in social studies class.

“We live in a democratic society and that is completely undemocratic.”

READ MORE: Kenney defends Scheer’s refusal to answer whether he thinks being gay is a ‘sin’

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The UCP confirmed Monday that Dakin’s comments had been moderated but that it was taking “corrective action” following the incident.

“Albertans have every right to voice their views to their elected officials, including when they disagree with the government,” said UCP deputy press secretary Harrison Fleming in a statement to Global News.

“A review of the thousands of comments on the premier’s Facebook page shows a wide swath of opinion, including from those who strongly disagree with the government,” the statement said. “Highly offensive language and overly abusive comments may get blocked.

“That said, we cannot be perfect in this regard given the high volume of comments in general. Ms. Dakin’s dissenting comments should not have been moderated, and corrective action has been taken,” Fleming said.

When asked if Dakin’s comments were the only ones inappropriately moderated, the UCP did not respond.

In Dakin’s case, the corrective action meant allowing users back onto the Premier’s page on Sunday.

“I’m not blocked anymore and also many other have been unblocked and our comments are visible again. But it’s a day later and it’s not during the livestream. So everyone that was on the livestream didn’t get to see that there were other opinions,” she said.

On Twitter, users vented their frustration after the live feed:

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Dakin confirmed to Global News that by Sunday, one day after she was blocked from the premier’s page, she was given access again. She also said her comments appear to have been unmuted.

Matt Wolfe, the premier’s executive director of issues management, also tweeted that Dakin’s comments should not have been removed.

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The UCP did not specify how many comments had been moderated by staff during the feed.

Dakin called the entire incident shocking and frustrating.

“It does concern me that they’re asking for public opinion on these issues and they want to do panels and public forums, but are they only to listen to the voices that support the views they already hold? Or are they going to listen to all Albertans?”