This lone-wolf operative is shaping Ontario's political discourse - 2018-01-12
The worry is not just about Mr. Ballingall's content. It's about how he has been leading the way in shaping where third-party involvement in this country's elections is going – and potentially making that involvement more impactful, despite recent attempts to curb it.
Last year, Ontario passed legislation dramatically restricting how much outside groups can spend to influence campaigns, limiting them to $600,000 in the six months before elections and $100,000 during them. It was largely a response to complaints that seven-figure ad campaigns by unions attacking the opposition Progressive Conservatives had repeatedly given the governing Liberals an unfair advantage. Thus far, as with similar rules in other provinces and nationally, it appears to be stymieing that sort of traditional third-party effort, mostly reliant on television ads.
What the law's crafters didn't count on, or figured they couldn't do much about, was that TV has gone from the only game in town to probably not even the best one. Advertising on Facebook is more narrowly targetable and cheaper. That's assuming it's paid advertising at all: Get enough traction, as Ontario Proud did, through an outlay of about $100,000 by Mr. Ballingall's telling, and much of a third party's content will be shared among users for free. (He has not specified where his initial funding came from.)