'A propaganda machine': How Doug Ford's government skirts media with Ontario News Now - 2019-05-15
When Ontario Premier Doug Ford travelled to New York late last month to meet with U.S. business leaders, Canadian media were given less than a day's notice about the trip. Mr. Ford brought his own TV crew: Ontario News Now.
The communications service, run by Progressive Conservative staffers, is fronted by Lyndsey Vanstone, a former broadcaster. ONN travels regularly with the Premier, posting exclusive footage and interviews on social media, mimicking a mainstream news outlet.
At first glance, ONN looks like news content, raising concerns about whether the government is purposefully trying to blur the lines between partisan messaging and journalism.
It's all paid for by taxpayers, but the costs are unknown. Because ONN operates out of PC caucus services, a fund that every caucus of eight or more receives for administration and research, it is not subject to disclosure or freedom of information requests. The overall budget for the PCs is around $6.7-million.