Blocking the block button

Earlier this week on my FaceBook page, I posted my thoughts on the use of social-media blocking by elected officials.

The post has generated a fair bit of discussion, which is encouraging as many people have taken the time to express differing points of view. From my perspective, when there is a large amount of interest on an issue, it is one that citizens see as important.

On the surface, an elected official blocking someone through social media may not seem like a significant event. 

However, for the growing population who do use social media, blocking denies a person their voice to be heard.

By extension, as social media increasingly has become a tool for citizens to hold elected officials to account, the careless use of the block button by elected officials has become an easy way out instead of answering a difficult or unpopular question. 

I have even learned of a practice called pre-emptive blocking where groups of citizens may be blocked by an elected official they have never interacted with online.

We would never tolerate guilt by association off line, yet it has become an online practice by some elected officials and their senior staff.

To be clear, I will continue to defend the right of elected officials to practise whatever social media policies they feel most comfortable with. Likewise, personal attacks, profanity and threats on social media should not be tolerated.

At the same, I caution those who use the block button as a means to avoid accountability or debate. Social media ideally work both ways and citizens deserve the right to be heard.

On that note, I am suggesting that elected officials, and those media and pundits who cover politics, to consider a social media forgiveness campaign.

How about un-block (or un-mute) all those citizens you have blocked and give them a second chance to engage. 

This might not work in all situations, but elected officials being exposed to more diverse views and being held to account in my view helps build a stronger democracy.

I welcome your comments, questions and concerns and can be reached online at [email protected] or call me off-line toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola which include the communities of Kelowna (specific boundaries), West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton and Merritt.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best. For his work on child safety and awareness, Dan was the recipient Penticton’s ‘2005 Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ award. Dan served as campaign chair for the United Way of the South Okanagan-Similkameen in 2006-7 and 2010-11, both times surpassing their fundraising goals.

On June 28 of 2012 Dan became one of the first MP’s in recent history to have a Private Members Bill (Bill 311) C-311 become law with the unanimous all party support of both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.  Bill C-311 “An Act to amend the importation of intoxicating liquors Act” amended a prohibition era law to prevented the free trade of wine over provincial borders.

Dan’s parliamentary record includes being recognized by the Ottawa Citizen in 2015 as one of only five Members of Parliament in Canada with a 100% voting attendance record.  Locally in British Columbia,  MP Dan Albas has been consistently one of the lowest spending Members of Parliament on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

 MP Dan Albas is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top ten most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

In October of 2015 MP Dan Albas was re-elected to Parliament representing the new riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola.  Dan is currently the Deputy Finance Critic, serving with Finance Critic, MP Gerard Deltell and sits on the Standing Committee on Finance.

Dan is honoured to serve the residents of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola as their Member of Parliament.

MP Dan Albas welcomes your input, so please contact him by e-mail, phone or mail.

He can be reached at:

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola's MP office
2562-B Main Street
West Kelowna, B.C. V4T 2N5
Email: [email protected]
Phone toll free: 1.800.665.8711
Fax: 250.707.2153

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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