Doug Rutherford

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Elections and Social Media

March 2011
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This is the fourth day since the writ was dropped and I cannot help but notice that there isn’t quite the carnage of fallen campaigners as there was last time around.

Last election, three BC NDP candidates withdrew in a week. Two for drug related videos and one for having removed his clothing and being body painted by teenagers. Another Toronto area Conservative candidate withdrew for supposedly not being able to commit for four years, although his online blog postings about gays, women and guns may have had far more to do with it.

It is decidedly possible that potential candidates have realized that what they’ve posted on the internet in the past may come back to haunt them. The proliferation of social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, has made getting your message across far easier than it was in the past. However, there has also been the history of people posting less than parliamentary comments or behaviour on social media sites, forgetting that such things, stored as they are on someone else’s server, never… ever… go away (please note that the last clause should be spoken with a dramatic echo).

If every national party runs a candidate in each of the 308 ridings, plus Bloc candidates in Quebec, as well as others of the thirty or so registered political parties in Canada do run candidates in some ridings, you are looking at about 1500 candidates running in total (given that not all ridings have nominated candidates, we do have to wait to hear exactly how many). That is approximately 1500 people, each with a past, and each who has done at least one thing that probably doesn’t sell well with the electorate. Some can probably lay claim to more than one.  It looks, this time, like riding associations have done a better vetting job than they did last election, of finding the more blatant and public of those little indiscretions and ensuring that they, or the potential candidate they are attached to, don’t see the light of day.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have fewer candidates falling by the wayside from self-inflicted wounds. That is, however, probably way too much to expect in a Federal election.


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