Political cyberbullying goes too far: MLA

Political cyberbullying has to stop says a P.E.I. MLA.

Twitter account launches personal attacks on Olive Crane

Independent MLA Olive Crane says personal attacks on her from an anonymous Twitter account have to stop. (CBC)
Political cyberbullying has to stop says a P.E.I. MLA.

Olive Crane, who sits as an Independent in the provincial legislature, said she was hurt and disappointed to read tweets on an anonymous account called @Kingwadepei.

The tweets were personal attacks ranging from her appearance to her upbringing.

"We want more women in politics, and when I read words like hate, like cancer, it's deplorable. It's beyond," said Crane.

The MLA was the former leader of the Prince Edward Island Progressive Conservative Party.

She said official PC caucus and the party's Twitter accounts were following @Kingwadepei.

The account was discontinued late Tuesday afternoon. Another account with a similar name has gone up.

In a statement released by the PC Party, spokesman Jeff Himelman said, "This account is one of more than 2,100 Twitter accounts followed by the caucus and party accounts. The caucus and party accounts have never shared, retweeted or favourited any tweet by the account in question.

"Following an account is not an endorsement of its views. We believe in engaging Islanders and fostering debate on public issues and do so regularly through social media."

Michelle MacCallum of PEI's Women's Network says political cyberbullying in P.E.I. politics has to stop. (CBC)
Michelle MacCallum with PEI's Women's Network disagrees. She said the account and what was being posted was political cyberbullying and it should stop.

"What really bothered me was seeing prominent members of a political party following, and some of the people retweeting some of the stuff that was there. And that's where I start to wonder, 'Are you enjoying this content?'," MacCallum said.

MacCallum said following an account engaged in cyberbullying only fuels the fire.

"Are you agreeing with this content that starts to call out someone's bad haircut or weight issues or what they're wearing, or that they may be trying to steal your wallet if they get close to you? Or are you in collusion with creating this kind of content as a way to score political points and undermine your enemy?," MacCallum questioned.

The youth program manager said she hoped all political parties and their members would take the high road during the next election campaign, focusing on policy rather than personal attacks.

"When we have politicians following that stuff, it's like, 'Are you OK for the job? Are you up for the job?' Because it seems like you're more concerned with scoring points than offering solutions."

P.E.I. Liberal Party executive director Jamie MacPhail said from a party perspective, they would never follow an account that tried to represent or basically point fingers at and embarrass an opponent.

"I think politics is a debate about ideas and vision and policy. To see it going to this level is discouraging and something the Liberal party strongly discourages among its own members."


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