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Do it live! Mayor Nenshi owns his hot mic moment

The rule is to never say anything that you wouldn’t want broadcast out inadvertently on a hot or “live” mic.
A Green-Eyed Girl

“Always assume the mic is hot” Sage advice for anyone in the public eye, especially if you are hooked up to a lapel mic waiting to go live on air or on stage. The rule is to never say anything that you wouldn’t want broadcast out inadvertently on a hot or “live” mic.

Good advice….but what if you didn’t know you were being recorded? What if you had not the slightest clue that you were being filmed, recorded and broadcasted live to a social media stream?

That is exactly what happened recently to Calgary Mayor, Naheed Nenshi during a trip to Boston and while taking a ride from a Lyft driver (a company similar to Uber). It was during this ride that he was apparently filmed without his knowledge and it was broadcast over the social media platform Periscope. He was not doing anything illegal or illicit, but the conversation that was recorded was less than flattering considering his position as Mayor.  I am not going to go into detail about what he said, but let’s just say that he has since issued an apology and (according to an online CBC news article) said that, “while he was not aware he was being recorded, that’s not the point.”. He also said that, “One should be the same person in private as in public and I take full responsibility for my interaction with others.”

I give him credit for owning the situation.

I don’t really care what Mayor Nenshi said on the hidden camera because this column isn’t about WHAT he said. What he said can be debated in his own community and with his colleagues, not here, not in this column. I worry about the fact that he was recorded without his knowledge. We all say things in the privacy of our own home, car, etc. that we wouldn’t want anyone to repeat. We have a reasonable expectation that there will not be a hidden camera recording our conversations. 

Is this the world that we now live in? A world where we cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy even in a cab?

Yes….it is. Confrontations at coffee and donut shops are recorded and placed on Youtube. An argument with a customer is recorded and uploaded to Facebook. The video or audio recording allows the public to become the judge, jury and executioner without the benefit of hearing both sides of a story.

Again, this is not about what the Mayor said – it is about the lack of privacy in our world.

Let’s face it – our lives are played out on social media and we have to conduct ourselves accordingly. It isn’t fair, but it’s a fact of life.

Will Mayor Nenshi come out the other side of this controversy unscathed? I don’t know the answer to that question. At the time of writing this, twitter is still abuzz with opinion and it seems to be half in half: half defend the Mayor because he was not advised that he was being recorded and the other half chastising him for his choice of words.

Regardless of what happens, a very big lesson has been learned and other public figures can thank Mayor Nenshi for being the first to be burnt by the hidden hot mic. You better bet that others won’t be so trusting.


Judy Kucharuk is a lover of sarcasm, witty people and footnotes. You can follow her blog at or catch her on CBC Radio Daybreak North where she shares her “Peace of Mind”. Follow her on twitter @judylaine