These research papers were completed as part of one of Mount Royal University’s third-year public relations classes, which focuses on government public relations and Canadian political communication (currently PUBR 3860). The papers are among the first full research papers that the PR students complete during their degree, taking over a month to individually select a topic upon which to write, research, edit and review prior to submission.
The Danger of Hate Speech and Canada’s Need for Stronger Regulations by Hayley Dechaine (FIRST PLACE)
One of the most important political issues facing Canadians today is the very minimal laws and regulations protecting Canadians from hate speech. In the past 10 years, the Government of Canada has actually decreased citizens’ protection of hate speech by removing Section 13 from Canada’s Human Rights Act (Tomlins, 2015, p. 45). The current regulations in place only protect acts of hate crime where targeted groups are in literal danger, specifically Sections 318 and 319 regulating genocide and violence (p. 61). With very little protection for marginalized groups against hate speech, individuals and groups are more frequently targeted, ultimately making it more socially acceptable and institutionalizing inequality (Carlson, 2020).
The COVID-19 Infodemic: A modern day government public relations crisis
by Megan Pearson (SECOND PLACE)
Governments around the world have been challenged to maintain social cohesion and trust after experiencing a global pandemic during the age of misinformation. While the COVID-19 virus has spread quickly across the globe, false information about the health crisis has spread even faster. This phenomenon is known as an “infodemic.” The World Health Organization (WHO, 2021) explains that infodemics are an overabundance of information – both true and false – that make it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it. The infodemic has influenced opinions and beliefs about COVID-19 vaccines, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and more, ultimately affecting government response efforts and prolonging the pandemic (Mheidly & Fares, 2020). Misinformation perpetuated by the infodemic has created mass division, undermining social cohesion and government trust.
A Secondary Research Analysis of Unaffordable Housing in Canada
by Cayley Roddie (THIRD PLACE)
According to Strobel, Burcul, Hong Dai, Ma, Jamani and Hossain (2021), homelessness can be defined as people living on the streets, staying in emergency shelters, temporarily staying with friends, family or strangers, temporarily living in motels or hostels and/or living in inadequate or high-risk housing. On any given night, Strobel et al. (2021) say that 25,000 to 35,000 people may be experiencing homelessness, with over 235,000 people experiencing the same within any given year in Canada. However, the Canadian housing crisis is not limited only to homelessness. Ben Winck (2021) states that it is estimated that, compared to every other G7 nation, Canada has the fewest homes per every 1000 people. In the year of 2020, housing prices jumped by 22 per cent, placing home prices at a record high in Canada (Winck, 2021). These are significant factors that create challenges for both housed and homeless people when seeking homes to rent or buy, further contributing to the housing crisis within Canada.
Why Live Music is Integral to Canada’s Culture and Communities, and How Canada’s Federal Government is Combating its Dissolution During the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Tory Rosso (FOURTH PLACE)
The positive social, cultural and mental health impacts of live music events have been extensively documented and acknowledged. In ecologies where local music scenes flourish, there are reduced crime rates, positive economic impacts and thriving cultural communities. Consequently, the absence of live performances during the COVID-19 pandemic and its questionable longevity has created “concern regarding how and when the live music industry would recover” for musicians, venue owners and patrons alike (Gloor, 2020, p. 17). Preserving the durability of live music is fraught with a plethora of obstacles.While the federal Liberal government publicly funds Canadian music, more effective policy decisions by individuals who truly care for the arts would contribute to increasing the longevity of live music in Canada.