March 23, 2022
Ottawa spent more than $600,000 on social media influencers last year, records show.
An Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the Commons found partnerships with social creators cost federal departments $610,900 last year, in figures requested by Conservative MP Warren Steinley.
Tweeters, bloggers, social media influencers, and local celebrities, like Dragons’ Den’s personalities, were paid to praise the government’s work, records show.
CBC Dragons’ Den personality Michele Romanow and partner Nicholas Duvernois were paid $120,000 to promote the work of Export Development Canada and “bring our success stories to life,” wrote staff.
“The biggest risk you should take in your life is the risk on yourself,” Romanow wrote on Facebook. “You should always bet on yourself.”
Kalen Dahlgren, a motivational speaker who survived the 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash that killed 16, was paid $46,000 by the Royal Canadian Mint to promote coin sales, found Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Department of Health and Public Health Agency paid a total $154,499 for favourable tweets, blogs, and Facebook posts.
“The influencer campaign complemented the Government of Canada’s overall strategy to help everyone in Canada make an informed decision about Covid-19 vaccines,” said the inquiry.
The Department of Canadian Heritage paid $22,000 for tweets observing Canada Day, while another $120,000 was paid to promote ice carving contests in Charlottetown, Corner Brook, Fort St. John, Halifax, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
Federal departments have justified paying for Facebook friends and favourable tweets as a means of communicating with taxpayers.
“Communication is a fast-paced environment that is impacted by a constantly changing landscape,” the Department of Natural Resources wrote in a 2021 Audit Of Natural Resources Canada Communication Function.
“With the increasingly important role of digital platforms, the speed at which information travels and citizens’ expectations for timely, relevant information, communications increasingly impacts policy agendas in real time, further underscoring the need to effectively leverage the power of digital in order to achieve departmental goals,” wrote auditors.