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.

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The Impact of Facebook and Twitter Disinformation on Canadian Politics: A 21st Century Threat to Democracy by Erin Porter (FIRST PLACE)

In modern day politics, the phrase “fake news” has become a regular part of political banter. Interestingly, the phrase was popularized by the 45th President of the United States as an attack against news organizations that did not report in a way that suited his liking (Beaujon, 2019, para. 5). However, the phrase now has a new meaning that has crossed borders and become a problem all over the world. This problem is social media disinformation. In the 2019 Canadian federal election, Canadians experienced this problem first-hand with unreputable news organizations like The Buffalo Chronicle popping up on Facebook pages and spreading fabricated information about political leaders and candidates (Lytvynenko et al., 2019). Given that social media is increasingly setting the agenda for public discourse, it is important to explore the impacts disinformation has on the political process. The impact of social media on the political process and our democracy is one of the most important political issues facing Canadians today. In this paper, I argue that social media disinformation is what continues to polarize politics in Canada and this paper works to identify ways in which social media policies, specifically on Twitter and Facebook, can be improved to combat disinformation.

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Systemic Racism in Law Enforcement: How are the enforcers being enforced? by Eila De Almeida (SECOND PLACE)

This paper argues that revisions need to be undertaken regarding accountability procedures within Canada’s law enforcement. The main revisions suggested are to provide third-party oversight with the power to impose disciplinary actions and to equip all front-line law enforcement personnel with BWCs. This paper first considers the origin of Canadian law enforcement, then discusses internal accountability procedures (Stelkia, 2020a), third-party oversight (Stelkia, 2020a, Westmarland & Conway, 2020), and closes with an analysis of body-worn cameras (BWC’s) (Glasbeek et al., 2020).

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Post-Snowden Mass Government Surveillance in Canada: A secondary research analysis of government mass monitoring activities in Canada by Lily Harris (TIED FOR THIRD PLACE)

This paper argues that mass surveillance and privacy rights are one of the most important political issues facing Canadians today, due to individual constitutional rights being undermined in the pursuit of national security. Canada must protect individual rights outlined in the Constitution in order to truly call itself a democratic nation-state. Increased whistleblower protection and further amendments to Canadian surveillance legislation, including Bill C-59, are two recommendations that are posed as a solution to maintain both governmental and individual rights and freedoms.

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The Brand of Sustainability: Exploring the role of oil and gas communication strategies in influencing public opinion and government policy by Ashley Imbrogno (TIED FOR THIRD PLACE)

The sustainability brand occurs at the federal, provincial and organizational levels and includes renewable energy alternatives, adherence to policies and regulations, technology and supply chain improvements. Canada’s reputation as an environmental leader is tied to its participation in the Paris Agreement and the federal and provincial policies such as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (Generation Energy Council, 2018, p. 5). Additionally, Canada’s relationship with the energy industry in its entirety informs its global environmental reputation. Public opinion surrounding this industry is under the impression that oil is not sustainable and is damaging to the environment, therefore changes must be made in terms of policy reform, regulatory adjustments, and advocacy of clean energy technologies in order to shift perceptions (Bagheri et al., 2018, p. 708). Support from the government and lobby groups is also encouraged for lasting implementation. In this paper, I argue that oil and gas reputation management is shaped through the brand of sustainability, executed through communication strategies and information subsidies created by each organization, along with adherence to policy changes and environmental regulations in order to improve and maintain public opinion in Canada.

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2021 Research Papers Coming Soon!

Join us for the Western Communication Report’s third annual launch on April 14, 2021 at 4 p.m. when the winning research paper will be announced.