Monthly Archives: April 2011

Liberal candidate’s QR code leads to porn site

A poster for Justin Trudeau with erroneous QR code

The campaign organizers of Liberal Party candidate Justin Trudeau are scrambling to cover up parts of posters of him that have been put up all over his riding of Papineau, in the Villeray area.

The signs – like others in the party – have what’s called a QR code, a two-dimensional barcode that’s readable by devices like smartphones. Point the device’s camera at the code, run the program, and it spits out a website address or other information.

Unfortunately for Trudeau, whoever generated the QR code for his campaign poster made a typo. Instead of typing in “” – the website for the Liberal Party of Canada – he or she typed in “”, the site of an organization devoted to “encouraging the liberal use of lube” in sexual encounters.

Staffers, who were made aware of the problem on Thursday after someone complained, have been dispatched across the riding (fortunately for them, it is the smallest geographically in Canada) with stickers of the correct code on them.

In the meantime, the party acted quickly in getting the “” website offline and removing almost all traces of it from the Internet. According to the website’s owner, who said she “never asked for any of this attention” and didn’t want to be named, they’re in discussions about having the Liberal Party buy the domain name.

Gesca to buy Rue Frontenac

Rue Frontenac's journalists would be pulled out of their spartan newsroom and given proper offices in the deal

It makes perfect sense, and yet it makes none.

According to senior officials, Rue Frontenac (the website and weekly newspaper run by locked-out employees of the Journal de Montréal that was set to split off into an independent company after a new labour contract was approved) is being purchased by Gesca, publisher of La Presse.

The deal, which would need to be ratified at a meeting likely to take place over the next couple of weeks, will see the website and newspaper purchased for a nominal fee (probably $1) and its remaining employees (those who haven’t returned to the Journal or taken retirement) offered employment within Gesca. Though the details have yet to be finalized, the most likely scenario would see Rue Frontenac published as a weekly insert to Gesca’s seven daily newspapers (six in Quebec, plus Ottawa’s Le Droit) that focuses on investigative reporting. A source within La Presse said that, for now, there are no plans to make major changes to the content of the newspaper, though in time Rue Frontenac’s journalists and other workers would be expected to integrate into newsrooms of La Presse and other papers. This also means that the paper’s current offices on Iberville St. would be vacated, either turned back to the Journal’s union or simply abandoned altogether.

The reaction of those employees who have heard about the deal is mixed. Most are a bit troubled that this essentially amounts to a takeover by a big media enterprise, and would have preferred that Rue Frontenac remain independent. But even the most hardcore of RF faithful know that the offer of employment to those who would otherwise be struggling to pay the bills is an offer too good to pass up.

“Our goal was to make sure everyone here could go back to work, and this offer gives them exactly that,” said one member of Rue Frontenac’s managerial committee who asked not to be named. “The downside is minimal comparatively.”

After the plan is approved, it would still take weeks, maybe months for the integration to be complete. Until then, the plan is to keep everything status quo. Rue Frontenac will still appear on Thursdays on newsstands, with breaking news at

Le Devoir to charge for tweets

Though it remains the only major newspaper in Quebec to charge readers for complete access to its website, Le Devoir apparently wants to increase the scope of its paywall, and is starting a pilot project that could see users paying for Twitter updates.

Le Devoir’s journalists have been quietly setting up Twitter accounts (you can see media reporter Stéphane Baillargeon’s here) in preparation for this plan.

How it would work isn’t too complicated: It takes advantage of a Twitter feature that allows people to protect their accounts and only allow those who are authorized to receive their tweets. The trick is coordinating the paper’s subscriber database (those who subscribe to Le Devoir would get the tweets for free) with some way of automatically authorizing (and de-authorizing, as the case may be) access to the Twitter accounts.

Le Devoir’s Web technology team says it’s just about ready to begin wide testing of this new system, for a full public launch sometime in the summer. It’ll be up to the marketing and editorial sides to find a way to make readers want to pay to read updates from the paper’s columnists and reporters.

Whether anyone will pay for bits of information 140 characters at a time is the big question. But Le Devoir’s paywall exists, so why not extend it to Twitter?