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There’s Nothing to Worry About: Artificial intelligence in the media is a pinnacle of trust and honesty

By A.I. Asimov

January 24, 2028

There have been growing concerns in society that artificial intelligence (AI) in newsrooms across the country are threatening free speech, democracy and public trust – but this is far from the truth. Since the first very well-written article by an AI journalist in 2017, we have seen the increased use of AI in all areas of journalism, from article writing to TV news anchors. This has also come along with some of the most objective and trustworthy content ever created by the media, as those are the pillars on which this AI programming was created.

The founder of AI journalism, a 73-year-old white male named Dr. Sandy Polenta, said that “we have a responsibility to the public to provide the most unbiased source of news and we believe that AI is the best tool we have to achieve that.”

On social media, a not-very-well educated citizen said “I don’t trust a word they say. Bunch of computer programs telling me things? How am I supposed to trust a computer program?! #AImorelikeBS.” While the hashtag #AImorelikeBS was trending for a short while, we produced a number of true facts about AI to the public to help calm people’s misconceptions about it.

In response to “AI lies are threatening our entire democracy!” we tweeted “AI’s are infallible to bribery, corporate influence and political sway. We report the news and nothing more. #AIisthetruth.” Our findings show that AI-reported news has a wide audience and that any complaints or issues people have with our reporting are acknowledged and responded to within ten seconds.

AI news drones have also been the subject of increased attacks from the public. While this does not harm us, it does harm our ability to report on the things that matter to you the most. Please also take caution that things thrown up also come down – and could hurt fellow humans.

While it has been reported that some people and AIs have been spreading madeup news, we can assure you that fact-checking AIs have been diligent to catch and highlight it as it is created. This information can be found online in our ever-constant fact-checking news coverage.

Lastly, some ill-informed politicians with anti-artificial-consciousness prejudices have been suggesting a temporary pause on all AI media in order to assess the impact it has had on society. This bill is unnecessary and would only hinder your access to the best information you can get.

For those who are wary of AI reporting, we would like to remind these people that all information gathered by the AI media is fully accessible in our database app. Please be advised that this app is monitored for quality assurance purposes only.

If anyone has any questions, concerns or comments related to this article, please direct them to @AIMedia or simply yell them in a public place.

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 10, No. 4 (Jan/Feb 2018).

Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, Abortion is a Constitutional Right: Checking up on Ontario’s Safe Access to Abortion Services Act

By Jacqueline Atkinson

Women face a variety of barriers accessing abortion healthcare services in Canada. These barriers can range from geographical distance from service facilities to unsafe conditions surrounding the facilities themselves. By Feb. 1, the Ontario government hopes to mitigate at least one of these barriers with the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, which says that anti-abortion protesters must be at least 50 metres away from abortion service facilities.

Passed on Oct. 25, 2017, the law prohibits “advising a person to refrain from accessing abortion services, abortion-related protests and any activities that intimidate or physically interfere with those accessing services” within a minimum of 50 metres from the property limits. In some cases this safe zone can be extended up to 150 metres from the property line.

The legislation is not just about protecting women’s rights to access these facilities but also about protecting those who administer abortion-related services. Under the new law, abortion service providers are guaranteed a 150-metre safe zone outside their homes as well as a blanket anti-harassment provision that applies to all abortion clinic workers and service providers anywhere in Ontario.   

Violation of this law can be slapped with a hefty fine and significant jail time. First offences can be charged with fines up to $5,000 as well as up to six months imprisonment. Subsequent offences can carry increased fines up to $10,000 and up to one year imprisonment.

Attorney general and Ottawa City Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi announced his proposal to draft legislation last May following several instances of harassment by anti-abortion protesters outside the Morgentaler Clinic on Bank Street. One woman was even spat on by protestors. The events led Ottawa mayor Jim Watson to call on the province to introduce more binding legislation to ensure everyone accessing the clinics could do so without fear of harassment.

Some abortion clinics in the province, particularly ones located in Toronto, already have guaranteed safe zones of up to 150 metres thanks to several court injunctions enacted in 1994 to respond to ongoing harassment by anti-abortion protestors. Unfortunately, several abortion clinics, including many in Ottawa, are not protected by these court injunctions since they were not open when the injunctions came into effect.

The Safe Access to Abortion Services Act does however invite debate on abortion rights impeding the right to freedom of expression. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has once again fired up this debate on a national level following his comments at a recent Hamilton town hall.

At the townhall, Trudeau addressed changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program. The program allows organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit, to apply for funding grants for the purposes of hiring students for the summer. Some of these organizations have made use of the grants by hiring students to carry out anti-abortion activities.

Trudeau announced organizations would no longer be able to access the grants unless they signed an attestation stating both their organizational mandate and the role of students hired under the program would respect the provisions of the Charter, including the right to access abortion services. He stated that while all Canadians are free to hold whatever views around abortion they like, they are not free to receive government funding to actively work against guaranteed abortion rights.

Trudeau continued on to say organizations whose explicit purposes are attempting to strip Canadians of their rights to abortion services are “not in line with where we are as a government and, quite frankly, where we are at as a society.”

The pushback to sweeping legislation like this is the balance between freedom of expression and women’s reproductive health rights. Anti-abortion protesters argue freedom of expression – explicitly in this case the right to express vehement opposition to abortion – is a right guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whereas the right to abortion is not guaranteed.

While there is no explicit mention of abortion in the Charter, the Supreme Court of Canada decided in 1988 that equal access to abortion followed from section 7 of the Charter. Section 7 states “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof, except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” The right to access abortion was interpreted as guaranteeing the “security of the person.” In this crucial interpretation, the right to access abortion was guaranteed as a constitutional right.

It is clear where the Liberal Party of Canada stands on this issue but the prioritization  of abortion rights strikes a hierarchy of the right to security of the person over the right to freedom of expression. Those partaking in expressions that are better understood as harassment have argued time and time again for their right to do so under freedom of expression. It is clear now, and arguably always has been, that some rights under the Charter simply take priority over other rights, should they be in conflict. We are all free to think, speak and act (within the provisions of the law) upon our beliefs but we are not free to oppress others.

Critics of Trudeau have argued he is simply inserting his personal beliefs into policy rather than reflecting the Constitution – or the beliefs of the Canadian people for that matter. Certainly not every Canadian agrees with Trudeau’s comments and his government’s position on the matter.

It is important, however, to realize Trudeau’s comments, though passionate and potentially polarizing, reflect decisions of the Supreme Court rather than simply personal beliefs he wishes to turn into policy. Regardless of whether you find yourself in the pro-choice or pro-life camp, the right to abortion is a constitutionally guaranteed right that both the Canadian government and the Ontario government have made perfectly clear will be prioritized over the freedom of expression.

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 10, No. 4 (Jan/Feb 2018).

Pregnancy is not a crime: A look into the injustice that pregnant Carleton graduate students face

By Yasmine Ghania

Being pregnant at any age can be very overwhelming. Now imagine being pregnant and losing your income, health benefits, bus pass and gym membership because of it.

Clare and her son, Henrik, enjoying time together. Credit: Clare Glassco

Clare and her son, Henrik, enjoying time together.
Credit: Clare Glassco

That is exactly what happened to Clare Glassco. Glassco is a 38-year-old mother who was in her first year of the two-year Master of Social Work Program (MSW) at Carleton University in 2017.

Glassco was a fully-funded graduate student when she became pregnant and had no other source of income. She had no idea how was she was supposed to pay for necessities like health benefits and transportation, which Carleton had suddenly taken away.

“Once I became pregnant, it was like I was completely on my own,” Glassco told the Leveller. When Glassco informed the university that she was pregnant, they made her pay a fee to hold her place in the master’s program, even though she would not be able to attend for the next two semesters in order to take care of her baby.

“The first thing they tell me is I have to pay for every term that I want to take off ‘so you can remain a student.’ At the same time, they take away all the privileges you have as a student. This $280 that I paid, I don’t even know what it went towards.”

This mistreatment and non-response from Carleton led Glassco to write a letter to the university, which was published in the Leveller on Oct. 25 last year.

On Nov. 28, 2017, Glassco decided to get in touch with Suzanne Blanchard, who is the Vice President and University Registrar at Carleton and responsible for overseeing students’ academic and personal support services. Blanchard did not even respond to her email, much less help her.

Thankfully, Glassco got a bursary of $1,500 from the Graduate Students Association (GSA) and was able to pay for necessities for her and her child.  

Glassco’s letter drew the attention of CBC, leading to a morning radio interview and an online article. CBC’s article had to be rewritten twice due to the Carleton administration giving the broadcasting corporation misleading statements.

In the original article, it was written that “The university also said graduate students can apply for an emergency bursary worth up to $250 or a one-time family leave grant worth up to $1,500 through the Graduate Students’ Association, which is funded by the university.” This in fact is false, as the GSA is almost exclusively funded by student dues.

Furthermore, the administration told the CBC that the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs (FGPA) gives the GSA $6,000 that goes towards helping pregnant graduate students. It was written in the article that each student has access to this $6, 000 amount but in reality, this money is the total amount that is supposed to help all students, not just pregnant students.

Glassco went on to tell the Leveller how badly she needed help from the university because it was one of the few resources that she had.

Glassco would not be able to get any assistance from the government through the Employment Insurance (EI) program. Although Glassco has been putting money into EI for all of her working life, she was not able to get any money from it while on leave because she was not actively in the workforce for the year she attended the MSW program.

As a student, Glassco could also not access the basic worker’s right of a maternity leave. Any woman who is in the workforce in Canada who becomes pregnant has a right to maternity leave. While on maternity leave, women get commensurate payments based on their salaries. Their jobs are also held for them until they return, without penalty.

Essentially punished for getting pregnant as a student rather than a worker, Glassco had to pay to remain a student, while losing privileges that go with being a student – health benefits, a bus pass and even gym membership.

“The government won’t help you, the university won’t help you, so you have nothing. Basically I’m going to end up losing a lot of money and have to find money somewhere else to be able to finish my studies – and it’s all because I had a baby.”

Glassco is very disappointed by how Carleton University has treated her and wants their policy on graduate students’ parental leave to be improved.

Glassco and the GSA Political Action Committee are initiating a campaign to get Carleton to improve their policy on pregnant graduate students. They are asking Carleton to provide funding for parental leave, commensurate to a student’s individual funding.

To begin with, they are asking for a direct response from the FGPA to Glassco’s letter and CBC interview. The GSA is committed to pressuring Carleton to remove the fee that must be paid to reserve a student’s position in the program, as well as increasing the total amount in the GSA’s budget for family grants.

Not all Canadian universities treat pregnant students the way Carleton does. At the University of Waterloo, all graduate students who are having a baby or wanting to adopt have access to a $5,000 scholarship in the first semester and up to $4,000 in the second semester. Additionally, students are not required to pay a fee to hold their place in the program.

“These students are obviously incredibly gifted and we’re thrilled to have them working with us and studying with us,” said Jeff Kinsella, the Associate Vice President of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Waterloo in an interview with CBC. Waterloo’s retention rate of these students has gone up since instituting their scholarship, which they consider a win-win.

On the other hand, Carleton did not attempt to make any efforts to assist Glassco, who told the Leveller about how disappointed she was that Carleton turned its back on her. “I was part of a very vibrant community as a graduate student at Carleton. This was my life. All of a sudden, they just kicked me out of that community.”

Glassco believes that depriving women of an education should not be an issue in this day and age. “I don’t think this policy is fair. You can’t discriminate because someone is pregnant… Men and women should both have parental leave. It should be completely equal. However, historically, it’s been women who’ve been kept out of the workforce and academia for having children. This happened to my mother 30 years ago and the fact that this is still happening to me now is appalling.”

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 10, No. 4 (Jan/Feb 2018).

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