Canadians are headed back to the polls on Monday, October 19, following the dropping of the writ on August 2 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (commencing the longest election campaign period in Canadian history).
All four major party leaders are now in full-on campaign mode. And while we’re only around four weeks into the campaign, several issues are already coming to the forefront — especially in the Twittersphere, where all the parties, leaders, and supporters are attempting to make their voices heard above the chatter.
The Conservatives and leader Harper have started the election campaign in damage-control mode, with the trial of Senator Mike Duffy and associated former PMO Chief of Staff Nigel Wright and the now-infamous (and trending) $90,000 cheque being brought to the forefront.
Of the over 30k tweets that have mentioned the Prime Minister’s Twitter handle since August 2, over 10 per cent have included the word “Duffy” (monitored and analyzed using MediaMiser Enterprise):
Prior to August 10 there was no mention of the word “Duffy” within any recent tweet that mentioned the Prime Minister’s handle
The Conservatives’ social media coverage has also suffered from a few unfortunate campaign gaffes, which have been amplified by a number of Twitter users drawing attention to them.
A $15-million nature funding announcement was overshadowed by complaints from Scouts Canada:
Just a reminder that Scouts Canada members are not permitted to attend political events in uniform, we are non-partisan!
— Scouts Canada (@scoutscanada) August 21, 2015
And a Conservative advertisement on BC’s environmental stewardship featured a picture of an Atlantic salmon, which drew the ire of several users in the province:
@pmharper Um, this is a little awkward, but that looks a lot like an ATLANTIC salmon. — Aaron Hill (@AaronHill_) August 22, 2015
These examples and more have contributed to @pmharper facing an extremely negative atmosphere on Twitter right now.In the case of the other three parties, mentions have been mostly positive — with a few notable exceptions.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May, while receiving an outpouring of support for her inclusion in federal debates, has also been criticized that votes for her party may indirectly lead to less votes for both the NDP and Liberals:
— Steve Ward (@TrekkerSteve) August 20, 2015
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, while receiving positive coverage for his announcement regarding education funding for First Nations, has received negative backlash from Twitter users linking his party to Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberal government:
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, while receiving praise for his proposed $15 minimum wage, is still receiving negative coverage associated with the $1.17 million that NDP MP’s have been ordered to repay over improper mailings.
There has been comparisons made between this and the Duffy trial since it began:
When was the last time a journo asked @ThomasMulcair when he was paying back the taxpayer money on the campaign trail?
— Kevin Sinclair ن (@unclemeat80) August 18, 2015
As the election season continues into September, we’ll cover the battle each week as it unfolds on Twitter. The rhetoric between the parties and their vocal supporters will inevitably ramp itself up in the social sphere as we near closer to October 19.