From Penny Dreadful to false news.

If you think false news is new news, you are only about 300 years behind the news. Watching the efforts of past politician Patrick Brown to communicate with his constituents during his time in Ottawa, I used to think of his efforts in terms of the penny dreadful publications that originated in England in the early 1800s. They had the same lack of accuracy and quality and the same misleading enticements to want to read the following edition.

Most of the early penny dreadful material was fictional about highwaymen or vampires and so was much of Patrick Brown’s efforts. He seemed to accept anything without question from the party offices or as quoted from questionable sources. What was most annoying was his use of local charities to promote himself. He was doing a disservice to the charities but they could hardly say ‘no’ to him.

He used to make fanciful claims about what he did for charities in Barrie. He even used to take the credit for the Royal Victoria Hospital summer hockey event, saying he thought of it and started it, until enough people said “No, he did not.” He used to politicize the event to the point of needlessly polarizing the community.

But this is not to say that all of Patrick Brown’s schemes were not effective. He was easily re-elected for three terms as member of parliament for Barrie. When Brown saw the handwriting on the wall on the conservatives’ chances in 2015, he made the jump for the brass ring in Ontario. By signing up close to 40,000 immigrants from the Indian sub-continent (with or without payment), he swamped the then low membership of the Ontario conservatives and took the leadership—for a while anyway.

But we should hardly be surprised that the two city councillors—acolytes of Patrick Brown—who were there to fill in for him in the new electoral districts for the 2015 federal election, are following in his footsteps.

Messrs. Brassard and Nutall, both MPs for different halves of Barrie, sent out a penny dreadful the other day to announce that they are playing hockey down at the cenotaph on July 1. I, for one, just have better things to do than sit in the hot sun watching a mediocre game of shinny by people who are supposed to be adults.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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