Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne performs her usual question-evasion tactics on popular online forum: Ask, Don’t Tell
After a great deal of hype and much fanfare on Twitter, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne took to Reddit to take part in an “Ask Me Anything” (a.k.a. an ‘AMA’).
The format has long been used by celebrities and politicians to engage with a trans-global Reddit channel that boasts a casual user-base of over 4.5 million subscribers. Among the top recent AMAs of note, President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Bill Nye, and Sir David Attenborough, greeted redditors with spirited and informative Q&As.
Today, Premier Wynne took to the web to answer questions from Reddit. “Even the tough ones,” she promised.
Over the course of her hour-long telepresence, Premier Wynne fielded hundreds of questions. She responded to ten. Redditors paid closest attention to these select few, hoping for some insight into her plan for Ontario’s future.
There was one hard-hitting question, which nearly stumped the premier. One user challenged Premier Wynne to name her favourite book. “Such a hard question,” she replied. Apparently not as hard as those unanswered questions about energy costs, the growing deficit, the lasting ramifications of her predecessor’s decisions on her term, and power plants. Wynne did, however, manage to get back on track.
Wynne puzzled the hundreds of commenters asking about the LCBO, minimum wage, and job creation, with an elaborate metaphor outlining her running schedule. Reddit seems undecided on whether Wynne was speaking to Ontario’s need for perseverance in hard economic times or the utility of evasion.
Wynne’s AMA has been overwhelmingly panned in the comments. The principle griefs concern her fluff responses and the softball questions, which some have suggested had been directed from Wynne’s office using long-burn accounts.
Granted that Reddit is hardly an insular community, this failed social-media endeavour may have set a destructive precedent, undermining the OLP’s online objective: “to be open and accessible to Ontarians.” After her AMA, the tone drastically changed from one of genuine interest, to revolt, where trolls and scorned political junkies contemplated the premier’s contempt and unwillingness to respond to serious concerns about her government.
Whatever Wynne had expected going into her AMA is most likely discrepant with the result: unanimous antipathy from a diverse group of wired Canadians who gathered to engage with an elected official. It is both an opportunity lost and a depressing insight into the actual opacity of Wynne’s government.