Posted by: Ian Ross | January 18, 2008

Conservatives Getting Pied In The Facebook

Members of the federal Conservative party appear to be turning their backs on social media — and the void is being filled on Facebook with some nasty groups. Highlights include:

  • ‘I will vote for Genghis Khan before Jim Flaherty’ group (30 members)
  • ‘Stockwell Day MUST RESIGN!’ group (53 members)
  • ‘I think Rona Ambrose is a man’ group (2 members)

Such attacks are a rash on a healthy social media scene. But these three (the country’s finance minister, public safety minister and intergovernmental minister) have decided not to provide a positive alternative — themselves. Neither has Industry Minister Jim Prentice, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley or Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl — although no one has launched an attack on them, yet.

In fact, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to be the only senior Tory politician with a page (more on that in a moment).

This is clearly a missed opportunity for Canada’s minority government to use Facebook as a valuable tool for two-way communication with citizens. It also handicaps the MPPs trying to build grassroots support within their constituencies in preparation for the next election.

I wonder if this is a result of an edict from the PM (who has been known to be controlling with his cabinet) or just a case of social media jitters. Either way, it doesn’t seem wise with seven million Canadians with Facebook accounts.

The PM does have a decent ‘politician’ page with 7,013 supporters (instead of friends on the politician page option) and 224 wall posts split between well-wishers and critics (Jan 18, 2008) He (or more likely his PR advisers) has also posted some videos from appearances on Corner Gas and the Rick Mercer Report, in addition to a small photo album. However, out of the three Canadian party leaders, he ranks last in supporters (Same day of measurement, Dion – 10,332; Layton – 8,560).

Last month, Maclean’s Andrew Coyne predicted on a CBC Peter Mansbridge panel that the 2008 Canadian newsmaker would be the politician who fully embraces social media. At this point, it doesn’t appear that person will come from the standing government; however things may change in the build up to the election.

Are Liberal or NDP politicians doing a better job using Facebook? I’ll take a look and report back over the next week or so.





  1. I think the higher supporter numbers for Layton and Dion can at least partly be explained by the disproportionate number of young, idealistic voters in Facebook’s user base. They’re naturally going to lean more to the left.

    Then again, Harper’s YouTube channel has attracted more views than Layton’s and Dion’s combined.

    From where I stand, no Canadian politician is doing a great job with social media. Certainly nothing on the scale of what Obama or Ron Paul are doing down south.

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