Prior to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s dropping of the writ on August 2, the economy appeared to be the forefront issue in the upcoming federal election, when voters would choose to either stay the financial course with the Conservatives or make a change and vote a new party into government.
As we enter the second month of the election campaign, the public’s focus becomes paramount; this is when parties learn what exactly are the most relevant issues to Canadians. In the media in the past few weeks, this focus has been on economic philosophy debates, budget plans, deficit vs. surplus, and the Duffy trial. However, while all of these are relevant to the discussion on social media, it is interesting to note where focus has also been drawn, to issues that are not at the forefront of the current Canadian electoral media landscape.
Amongst all tweets either mentioning a federal party or its leader’s Twitter handle, the most mentioned issue (not including either general terms, the economy, or partisan-fueled content) was the combined #EndPolio/#globalcitizens campaign, which garnered over 24,000 mentions throughout the month of August. This followed an initiative from the U.S.-based organization Global Citizen, which urged all Canadians to tweet the following message to support the global fight against polio:
This initiative was sparked following a tweet from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development near the end of July, acknowledging Canada’s commitment to ending polio:
— DFATD (Development) (@DFATD_DEV) July 22, 2015
Mentioned briefly in the previous blog post, one of the largest trending issues on Twitter in August was that of the exclusion of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May from any future federal debates during this election campaign. In conjunction with this, an alliance of women’s organizations called Up for Debate is advocating for a federal debate regarding women’s issues, and is also committed to raising awareness for women’s rights leading up to the federal election. These two issues have combined for over 14,500 mentions on Twitter, with #upfordebate garnering almost 2,000 on its own. This story also garnered support from both the mainstream media, and May herself:
In connection with the above, one of the major election issues popping up on Twitter continues to be the repeated calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, using the hashtag #MMIW. This hashtag and associated keywords, often used in connection with the issue of violence against women, garnered over 3,000 mentions on Twitter last month. Of note is that such an inquiry was also supported on Twitter by opposition parties, including the NDP:
— Niki Ashton (@nikiashton) August 31, 2015
Also, on August 31, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair recognized the relevance of this issue by making it a core part of his electoral platform, unveiling a $40-million plan to end violence against women, while also highlighting the issue of an inquiry.
Some of the other trending issues for the federal election on Twitter include: #C51, in reference to the fact that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals voted for the controversial legislation, that fact being used by both NDP and Green Party supporters as a reason not to vote for him; #usury, in reference to financial commentary related to the Bank of Canada and how federal funds are used, and; #DuffyTrial, associated with the fallout from the ongoing trial of Senator Mike Duffy and its implications for the Prime Minister’s Office.