Dear Sir or Madam,
While we will be moving away from discussing the American election next week, in our final election themed post, we want to urge you to continue the discussion. Whether you have a Republic with a president or Constitutional Monarchy with a prime minister, a functioning democracy relies on an engaged and informed public.
Section 2(a) of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the First Amendment of the American Constitution protects an individual’s right to express their beliefs, including political views that question governmental action. The freedom of expression has another essential function in the political context, to ensure that information can be freely disseminated to the public. An informed public can identify the societal issues that matter to them and hold the government accountable for change when election day comes.
America’s president-elect has openly threatened the press’ freedom to report on political discourse. During the campaign he had tirades against newspapers The New York Times and The Washington Post, saying that he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and… win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected." The fact that the president-elect is under the impression that he has the power to singlehandedly amend libel laws is concerning in itself, but there is a much more sinister repercussion here. Donald Trump wants to suppress negative opinions of him and bring responsible news sources into disrepute.
But the president-elect is not the only threat to responsible journalism. We have to be cognisant of the fact that we live in an unprecedented age of information. A majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. The problem with getting our news from Facebook is two-fold. When we get our news from Facebook, biased news sources and hyperpartisan blogs that rely on unsubstantiated claims and false data gain a larger platform. Ever more dangerously, we create own echo chambers when we “unfollow” that old colleague, schoolmate or family member that posts articles that champion beliefs that are different to our own.
So how do we stay informed, engaged, and willing to engage with other perspectives? Support and read responsible journalism. Buy subscriptions to media outlets that insist on fact-checking and don’t rely solely on social media for your news.
Staying engaged also means putting pressure on our leaders. Americans need to hold Donald Trump accountable for his policies and in Canada and abroad, we have to do the same for our leaders’ foreign policy decisions.
Compare the post election statements from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate Donald J. Trump on his election as the next President of the United States.
“Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States. We look forward to working very closely with President-elect Trump, his administration, and with the United States Congress in the years ahead, including on issues such as trade, investment, and international peace and security.
“The relationship between our two countries serves as a model for the world. Our shared values, deep cultural ties, and strong integrated economies will continue to provide the basis for advancing our strong and prosperous partnership.”
“Germany and America are bound by common values: democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person regardless of their origin, skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments.” 
You may be content with Justin Trudeau’s decision to avoid commenting on Trump’s divisive campaign, or perhaps you prefer Angela Merkel’s more conditional congratulations. Either way, you should know how your country’s leadership is responding.
So as exhausted as you may be from hearing about the election, please, don’t get complacent. Support journalism that publishes facts, push your government to be responsive, and don’t close your eyes to different perspectives, as hard as it may be.
Your humble and obedient servants,
 Hadas Gold, “Donald Trump: We're going to 'open up' libel laws”, Politico. (26 February 2016), online: <http://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2016/02/donald-trump-libel-laws-219866>
 Jeffrey Gottifried and Elisa Shearer, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016”, PewResearchCentre Media and News. (26 May 2016), online: <http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/>
 Kathleen Harris, “Justin Trudeau congratulates president-elect Trump, vows to 'move forward in a positive way’”, CBC News. (09 November 2016), online: <http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-trump-canada-us-relations-1.3843142>
 Anthony Faiola, “Angela Merkel congratulates Donald Trump — kind of”, The Washington Post (09 November 2016), online: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/11/09/angela-merkel-congratulates-donald-trump-kind-of/>