Irony alert: Facebook Catch-22

It’s a small thing, but it made me laugh out loud when I read it: the government of Ontario (the province I live in, for those of you outside Canada) has been confronted by a grassroots protest against legislation for young drivers. More than 110,000 people have signed up for a Facebook group that was set up in opposition to the proposed law, which would (among other things) restrict drivers who have a G1 or intermediate licence from carrying more than one other passenger under the age of 21. The law emerged at least in part because of a horrible accident in which a car full of twenty-somethings heading home from a party wound up going off the road and killing three of the four passengers.

A terrible accident, of course. But here’s the ironic part: near the end of my colleague Murray Campbell’s story about the Ontario government’s response, and how premier Dalton McGuinty (yes, that’s his real name) wants to “engage in a dialogue” with some of the protesters who have joined the Facebook group, Murray mentions that this desire is complicated by the fact that Ontario government employees can’t access Facebook at work. Why? Because the province has rules that prevent them from doing so, as a result of concerns about privacy, people wasting time checking their friends’ Facebook status every five minutes, and so on.

Here’s a word of advice for Mr. McGuinty and his government: If you really want to “engage in a dialogue” with those who are critical of you, it would help if you didn’t ban the tools that they are using to lobby you. Just a helpful tip — you can thank me later.

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