John Vanthof, the New Democrat MPP for Timiskaming-Cochrane, is telling the public not to put much stock in the Progressive Conservative government’s Ontario News Now.
ONN features various government members being interviewed by a reporter on camera and the segment is presented as a finished television news story.
Vanthof admits he’s watched ONN quite a bit and believes the intention “is to imitate real news”.
“I don’t call it fake news the way some do, I call it propaganda,” Vanthof said.
“So if you watch Ontario News Now, if you don’t know it, you may think it’s an unbiased newscast. But basically, it isn’t. It’s something from the partisan part of the government of Ontario.”
Vanthof says although the reporter may appear to act unbiased, he points out the person is paid for by the Tories.
Vanthof also believes the government members know the questions in advance.
Moose News asked Vanthof who pays for the service and he said although not fully confirmed, there’s an assumption the funds are coming from Caucus Services.
Vanthof says that means ONN is paid for by the taxpayers.
Moose News contacted MPP Vic Fedeli’s office on the question of who pays for the service.
In a prepared statement the office says PC Caucus Services pays.
The office says the service pays for research, promotion and advertising activities and is similar to its NDP counterpart.
The statement adds that the Caucus offices of all political parties have always dedicated resources to communicating with the public.
The statement also says in this instance the government is using ONN as a tool to communicate with Ontarians.
It also states ONN is not part of the government’s social media channel and the videos are not found on Ontario government websites or social media channels.
Vanthof says when the NDP uses Caucus Services to send out material it wants people to know, “it’s clearly marked the Ontario NDP”.
He says that is not the case when watching ONN.
Vanthof says the reporter may act unbiased but he says the public is being misinformed because people are not getting both sides of the story the way they normally do through regular news outlets.