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2011 Election

How is Social Media changing the nature of Canadian politics?

An interesting video from the CBC Inside Politics news show with Peter Mansbridge features Allan Gregg of Harris Decima, Chantal Hebert of Toronto Star, and Andrew Coyne of Maclean’s. They speak about the election campaign, minority governments, and how coalition can mean cooperation in parliament.

And in and among the rest of the important topics is an interesting discussion between Hebert and Coyne over how the real-time nature of social media is changing the nature of politics in Canada. They both argue that the up-to-the-minute nature of Twitter and Facebook make it possible for every news story that surfaces to instantly become the most important news item of that day, that news cycle, or that week. Look at the examples from this campaign: students being bounced from the Harper rallies, or the Auditor General’s report being leaked early (both stories I covered).

Hebert and Coyne argue that these stories are not especially critical to the campaign of any party, and that ten years ago, for example, these issues would have received notice, but would never have dominated the news in the ways they have. Social media, in this instance, gives credibility to news stories, sources, and ideas that in the grand scheme of politics in this country, do not matter.

It is an interesting take on the use of social media: I find it interesting especially coming from Andrew Coyne that social media may not play an ultimately positive role in campaigning and elections in general, considering he is the single most prolific poster that I follow on Twitter. The man does not stop. But he does, however, have enough credibility to admit when he is wrong, as he did via Twitter this week following the leaking of the Auditor General’s report. He recommended that the findings are still in draft form, and must not be taken as gospel, after tweeting non-stop about the leak of draft report and the bad news this would spell for the Conservatives. But he amended his view in saying that the leaked report indicates crucial issues we should be looking for when the final report is delivered after May 2, but that it would be too soon to crucify the government on speculation.

Caution – something that is often lacking from the immediacy of social media – should rule the day.

Once again, I am interested to know what you think about the use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sits in politics, especially in campaigning.

About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.



  1. Pingback: Canada and the social media election of 2011 « the reeves report - April 16, 2011

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