Worried About Fake News? Avoid the Rats #ableg #abpoli

“CBC does another hit piece on Albertans with their new claim of Albertans being a bunch of racists (sic).” ~ random Twitter account

For context, the CBC wrote an article about the rise of extremist groups in Alberta; a far cry from the conclusion above. While the CBC could have reported on a national study, (they have) or other provinces, (they have), this type of self-victimization seems to be gaining popularity around the country.

But my favourite, by far, is the Legend of the Alberta Sewer Rat. 

Once upon a time, as the story goes, the evil Deputy Premier of Alberta sat upon her high horse and declared all Albertans to be so far beneath her that they were actually sewer rats.

Of course, it’s not true, but the message discipline is strong. 

It was March 4, 2017 and the Legislature was in session. Sarah Hoffman responded to the Wildrose opposition, who was demanding the NDP admit their failure to reignite the boom days, with some snark, “We’re focused on hard hats; they’re spending a lot of time with sewer rats.” It was a pointed and deliberate roast of the opposition’s apparent cozy relationship with the Rebel Media crew.

And they knew it. “‘Sewer Rats’: That’s what the Alberta NDP deputy premier Sarah Hoffman called citizens who don’t agree with her” the Rebel account tweeted. Which is technically true as a few of those Rebel employees are indeed Alberta citizens. The video showed only the portion where Hoffman said “they’re spending a lot of time with sewer rats” and played it on repeat; “sewer rats, sewer rats” and in slow motion “sewer rats, sewer rats”. 

The whistle was blown and a large contingent of Rebel followers who understood only that they too disagreed with Hoffman, were instantly outraged at having been called “sewer rats”. It was truly impressive mass-manipulation.

The Alberta Bureau Chief of Rebel Media quickly added a sewer rat emoji to her handle and hoards of self-pitying social media-ites did the same to demonstrate their solidarity. The Canadian sewer rat gang was formed making them notably easier to avoid if one was in search of an account run by a person with critical thinking skills.    

The story is still told to this day, by former provincial premiers, and right-leaning columnists in Alberta; a short sound bite that angers conservative supporters who bristle at the idea that the Deputy Premier would call them sewer rats. 

Danielle Smith remarked on her show yesterday that people with large followings should be responsible for what they say because of the potential to mislead voters. Her fear, she said, was that she could someday report something that wasn’t true. 

Step one is not to rely on profiles with a rat.

This post contains fact, opinion, and sound advice. 

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

contact: dmaclean@countersign.ca

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary, @thisweekinAB for posts.

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