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Top Predictions for 2012 – Or the Year We Dicsover if the Mayans were Right

If the Mayans are correct, 2012 is the year we all go ‘POOF’ into a dark, infinite apocalypse. Some may say we are there at least figuratively already: a repeat of the 2007/2008 financial meltdown effectively turned the middle class into the (non) working poor; fallen dictators, those who survived, became the new middle class, and Liberals across Canada awoke May 3rd with barely enough elected members to make quorum in caucus.

2011 was a year of quakes, shakes, upheavals – highbrow and lowbrow news that zinged around the world as fast as people could press ‘re-tweet’. Luminaries were lost: Memories of Christopher Hitchens and Vaclav Havel faded in the haze of despair with the news, just under the year end wire, that Katy Perry and Russell Brand are no longer Hollywood’s golden couple.

With the past 12 months seemingly rife with daily misadventures, what will 2012 bring?

1: SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act): The US Congress really hates pirates. After a mass public movement kills any hope of passing legislation against domestic online piracy, lawmakers simply change the name of the Bill to ‘Somalia Offshore Piracy Action’. AK-47 toting ship thieves can now be legally hanged for copyright infringement.

2: Cats will again dominate video: Despite 35 hours of compelling, informative and culturally significant video uploaded to YouTube every minute, 8 of the top ten online videos of 2012 will be about cats. Snoring cats, felines chasing radio controlled cars operated by stoned teenagers, cats rescuing firefighters stuck in trees, cats smoking bongs and chasing teenagers with radio controlled cars, cats shitting in toilets and flushing…you get the point. The only two non-cat related top ten videos are of Katy Perry without her wedding ring, and twenty minutes of Rick Perry playing pocket pool behind his lectern during the final GOP Leadership debate. (He wins, the debate)

3: GST/HST a matter of dialect: After soundly denouncing the British Columbia Harmonized Sales Tax in a 2011 referendum, citizens believe a return to GST/PST is simply a matter of time. Not so – scrambling to re-instate the tax, new BC Finance Minister Dean Fortin realizes former premier, and anti-HST campaigner Bill Vander Zalm, was in essence, the solution. In the Dutch language, ‘G’s are pronounced as an ‘H’; by publishing all finance and tax policy in Dutch the two taxes will be linguistically combined!

4: City of Victoria: Long serving city councillor Pam Madoff announces in July she will resign to realize a life-long dream of becoming a heritage building. Facing huge infrastructure costs for a new recreation centre and fire hall, along with operational financial shortfalls, council declares a by-election and referendum for November. As a cost saving measure, Victoria voters are asked to approve a single, combined building – fire station, library, pool, nuclear power station and sewage treatment plant, or accept a 4000% property tax increase. Residents reject both and move en mass to Saanich, where Mayor Frank Leonard declares a state of emergency (on Twitter) and asks for immediate assistance from the UNHCR (also, via Twitter). When asked why he didn’t phone for assistance, the Saanich Mayor replied ‘are you kidding? Prime Minister’s office phone support is a 2 hour wait. On Twitter it’s immediate’

5: Personal Art: Hipsters declare QR code tattoos ‘so passé‘. The 2012 trend for skin ink are # tags – #Momma, #I’mWithStupid, and the ever popular #♥. Twitter wins the # trademark and immediately sues 15 million for copyright violation and lifetime royalties; admitting ‘this is really the only way we can make money‘.

6: EU: Realizing that centuries of diplomacy and two ruinous world wars failed to gain domination, Germany says “schraube dieser“, takes advantage of the financial crisis, and simply buys Europe. Nothing really changes except state dinners, where the menus are heavy on schnitzel and Riesling wine; and Paris is renamed Merkelville.

7: RIM: Canada nationalizes Research in Motion with Prime Minister Harper justifying the move as ‘the only way I can have private conversations with Peter Mackay when he is in a helicopter‘. Rioters worldwide rejoice.

8: BC Ferries: 30 major dock crashes, 2 sinkings and the Queen of Coquitlam arriving in Honolulu instead of Swartz Bay (to the delight of passengers) – new BC Ferry Chairman Gregor Robertson admits hiring Thai tuk-tuk drivers to replace experienced captains as a cost saving measure, saying ‘hey, if they can navigate Bangkok floods, surely Active Pass ain’t a problem. Enjoy our new yoghurt bar!‘. To increase revenue, passengers and vehicles are charged per kilo – reducing American tourism to Vancouver Island to zilch, not only for the weight factor, but US version Blackberry conversion App is faulty (Imperial gallons to fat ratio qualified in terms of US debt level and Canadian $, combined with GIS sends most travellers to Victoria. Virginia).

9: Social Media/News: Journalists worldwide collectively raise hands and surrender to citizen media, admitting ‘for each credible, authoritative and balanced report we generate there are 5 million anecdotal, biased blogs/videos/Facebook updates and Tweets: we can’t compete‘. Every major news organization simply becomes a Twitter timeline. (and is subsequently sued by Twitter for copyright infringement)

10: Fiction/Books: After lengthy meetings with her bank manager (the EU emergency bailout fund), author J.K. Rowling realizes she cannot justify buying Belgium without publishing another book. Taking a cue from Star Wars, she goes back in time and announces: ‘Harry Potter: The Magic Diaper Diaries‘ (4 part series). To appease anti-witch, religious zealots: in chapter two, Harry is simultaneously circumcised, baptised, entered into the order of Masons, and adopted by the Taliban. Chapter three, with Harry and Hermione, as toddlers playing ‘doctor’ to heal his abused ‘wand’, becomes the 2012 online meme. Pre-sales rocket, with 30 year olds lining up in front of theaters two years in advance of the movie release.

11: US Politics: Tea Party collectively surrender when Michele Bachmann is revealed to be both a male cross dresser, and gay. While they commiserate over coffee, Mitt Romney renounces Mormonism, joins the Rastifarians, and proposes the immediate legalization of marijuana, taxation of said product to solve the US debt crisis, and re-tasking of the Keystone pipeline to pump hash oil from British Columbia directly to Washington DC ‘where it is needed most‘. In a counter move, Obama joins the Mormons in order to ‘regain the center of US politics‘.

12: The Mayans are right…

Wishing all readers a Happy 2012!!

 

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Voting 2.0 : Social Media and Turnout

Votes are in, the statistics published. In the British Columbia Canada municipal elections held on November 19th, little has changed, including the general decline in voter turnout. In general, most incumbent Mayors and Councillors, along with School Board Trustees maintained their posts with few upsets, while in some smaller municipalities councils were unchallenged.

A previous post rated the candidates in The City of Victoria and District of Saanich actively using social media as part of their campaign communication strategy – with those in mind it is now possible to make some judgements around who won/lost and if social media played a role.

Noting that incumbents generally have the advantage of name recognition, the real surprise was in Victoria. All previous councillors ran leaving no open seat, yet three sitting councillors, including two directly associated and aligned with incumbent Mayor Dean Fortin (who won) were defeated…

Victoria BC Municipal results

Mayoral Candidates (4)

10080 – Re-elected: Dean Fortin (incumbent): Website : Facebook (2249 friends) : Twitter (1503 followers, 277 updates)
4229 – #2 Paul Brown (Open Victoria): Website : Facebook (122 friends) : Twitter (67 followers, 113 updates)
2206 – #3 Steve Filipovic : Website : Facebook (309 friends) : Twitter (90 followers, 336 updates)
161 – #4 David Shebib: Twitter (13 followers, 124 updates) : Facebook (230 friends)

Council Candidates (8 incumbents, 12 challengers)

8940 – Geoff Young (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (friends info blocked)
8803 – Charlayne Thornton-Joe (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (546 friends) : Twitter (34 followers, 2 updates)
8523 – New: Lisa Helps: Website : Facebook (192 friends) : Twitter (387 followers, 590 updates)
8419 – New: Ben Isitt : Website : Facebook (friends info blocked) : Twitter (197 followers, 36 updates)
7493 – Marianne Alto (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (388 friends) : Twitter (416 followers, 116 updates)
7321 – Pam Madoff (incumbent) : Website (note- webpage attached to Mayor Dean Fortin’s site)
6904 – New: Shellie Gudgeon: Website : Facebook (45 friends) : Twitter (139 followers, 144 updates)
6793 Chris Coleman (incumbent) : Website

Defeated Incumbents

6343 – John Luton (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (518 friends)
6101 – Lynn Hunter (incumbent) : Facebook (689 Friends)
5719 – Phillippe Lucas (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (115 friends) : Twitter (385 followers, 314 updates)

Defeated Contenders

4866 – Rose Henry: Website : Facebook (785 friends)
3993 – Suhki Lalli (Open Victoria): Website : Facebook (3 friends) : Twitter (1 follower, 3 updates)
3923 – Linda McGrew (Open Victoria) : Website : Facebook (21 friends) : Twitter (59 followers, 112 updates)
2777 – Aaron Hall (Open Victoria) : Website : Facebook (298 friends) : Twitter (1018 followers, 6205 updates)
2014 – John Turner
1519 – Robin Kimpton: Website : Facebook (11 friends)
1055 – Saul Anderson: Website
757 – Sean Murray
682 – John Valentine: Website : Facebook (32 friends)
Note – social media follower numbers are as of November 10th, 2011. In most cases those numbers rose before the November 19th election.

The Role of Social Media

There is no doubt the majority of municipal campaigns for Mayor or council utilized social media, alongside a website, as part of an overall communication strategy. What is interesting is that the number of followers, or updates, had little correlation to direct votes. Some, like council contender Aaron Hall, began the campaign with an apparent advantage of over 1018 Twitter followers, yet he ended with a total vote far less than other non incumbents with less online activity. Others such as Lisa Helps appeared with a beginning disadvantage, yet managed to correlate online activity to persuasion.

Of course, much is at play in any campaign beyond online activity. Simply going into an election with name recognition has an advantage – along with active door knocking, funds for advertising and signs, mainstream media attention, positive results in all-candidates meetings. Yet, it is noteworthy, the three new council candidates: Ben Isitt, Lisa Helps and Shellie Gudgeon who unseated incumbents in Victoria were very active on social media, more so than John Luton and Lynn Hunter – although defeated Councillor Phillippe Lucas was active. The message here might be simply….the message.

Content vs Numbers

Saanich Polling Sign

Saanich Polling Sign

The number of friends/followers on social media platforms is important, and can be an indicator of interest. That does not automatically translate into support. Followers could be family and friends outside of a voting region, media, even opponents watching a candidates activity. However the higher a follower number can indicate greater positive voter interest: there are only so many media, family etc. to plump an account.

Where candidates, now new council members, Lisa Helps, Shellie Gudgeon and Ben Isitt did well on social media, was utilization. Lisa especially used open ended questions, asked for feedback, used video via YouTube and thanked followers/mentions. That form of engagement drove her numbers higher on a daily basis, and likely assisted in her coming third overall in total votes with 8523, higher than 3 re-elected councillors…

“Social media seem to draw the same audience for candidates, just on a different platform,” Wright said. “It’s not attracting new voters. It’s retaining those who support them.”

And now that it’s become mainstream, it has to be done well to engage voters, he said. Wright points to Victoria candidate Lisa Helps, who won a council seat, and Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, who was re-elected despite facing a significant challenge from David Cubberley, as example of politicians using social media well.

“You should ask open-ended questions that allow people to interact. Be yourself, say thank you a lot, react to feedback,” Wright said. “And keep it up once the election is over.” via Times Colonist: Social media usage way up in election campaign; voter turnout, not so much by Kim Westad

Voter Turnout, a Disturbing Trend

Percent of Voter Participation

Percent of Voter Participation

True for the British Columbia municipal elections, the recent Federal and Provincial votes across Canada, and Western democracies – voter participation is decreasing,  despite the promise of open communication platforms provided by social media. Yet in between election cycles, interest in particular issues ranging from the environment to income inequality, arts funding to education have driven more people to online petitions, forums, blogs and directly onto the streets, than actually vote. There is obvious interest in issues, less interest, or maybe trust, in the politics that drive the policies. The Occupy movement is a visible reaction to that trend.

Turnout in Victoria barely budged the recent lows at 26.35%, Saanich was up at 25.35% with the highest within the 13 municipality Capital Regional District for Sooke at 41.92% – the average for the province was 29.51% – Full municipal list via CivicInfo.bc.ca

One reason might be that the active users of social media demand almost instant feedback. Active Twitter and Facebook users tend to be better informed, the age demographic is rapidly moving from the ‘youth’ 18-24 years model to +45 yrs, and they tend to vote – or not, especially in cases where a politician is not meeting expectations within the communication medium of the voter.

Some pundits and observers blame low voter turnout on political parties and candidates, asserting they alone are responsible for decreasing political participation. To some extent that is correct – low vote numbers are indicative of a failure to engage, at the door or online, – that none of the policies or vision relate to the expectations of the majority. That being said, the goal of a party or candidate is to win. Ideally, any campaign would prefer only their voters at the polls. There is no incentive to encourage potential opposition, with campaigns becoming increasingly technologically efficient, identifying the number of votes required for a win, and getting those supporters out on voting day. Any variable – such as a far higher turnout – wrecks strategy.

So it was interesting this week to read Elections BC proposals: Internet voting, registering youth at 16 on the voter list among others. More prevalent is the Op/Ed in the Vancouver Sun which largely places an onus on mainstream media to more comprehensively cover municipal issues. Compulsory voting, online voting, reducing the voting age, more civic education in the school system – all are good ideas, all have possibilities. Yet none address the primary issue: there must be more, direct and relevant, engagement with voters on issues in between elections.

Food for Thought

In order to engage more people, municipal issues must be given a more prominent role in media coverage. Regrettably, this space has recently been dominated—at least on the web—by advertisements for political parties disguised as blogs. These efforts end up being half bad at journalism and half bad at political advocacy, making them a complete disservice to the voters. Both incumbents and opposition must find ways to explain their course of action, without resorting to personal attacks and unfounded accusations, as the decisions are being made—and not just when the election is a few weeks away. Vancouver Sun

An interesting paper by Amanda Clarke, published in the Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament

Because social media offer low-cost and user-friendly means of conducting an ongoing dialogue between citizens and their representative figures and institutions, some argue that social media will grant decision-makers a more sophisticated understanding of the public’s interests and needs. Proponents of this view suggest that this improved understanding will lead to higher quality policies and programs.44 However, as noted earlier, those who currently participate in social media–based political exchanges may not be representative of the general population. As such, the needs and interests they express may not serve as an accurate gauge of public opinion. In addition, as some argue, these new communications technologies will not necessarily alter who is represented or the means and frequency of representation in governing institutions and policy processes.

and thanks…

Over the 5 week British Columbia municipal election campaign there has been a great deal of online, and in person, discussion on the role of social media in politics and issues. This has been among journalists, politicians, academics and voters, which illustrates that many are looking laterally – not only at campaigns and issues at the moment, but how communications and the role of social media can/might/will affect politics and issue engagement in the future.

It was refreshing to not be directly and actively involved in a campaign this time round. Being outside of the ‘election bubble’ allowed for a more objective view on how media was reporting, how social media shaped campaigns, how voters were reacting.

Thanks go to Theresa Lalonde (Twitter @TheresaLalonde) for inclusion in CBC Radio, TV and the CBC website (Story) – Adam Stirling (Twitter @Adam_Stirling) for the online chats and radio interviews on CFAX – Kim Westad, Times Colonist, for the article – Janni Aragon, (Twitter: @JanniAragon) Professor of Political Science at the University of Victoria, for aiding and organizing the Political Panel with Social Media Club Victoria, Raul Pacheco-Vega (Twitter @raulpacheco) for the UBC Politics and Policy guest speaker invitation – that was a fantastic experience with his Poli Sci 350 Class

As always, your thoughts on how the current election was affected by social media, or how it may play a role in the lead to the 2014 municipal elections, are welcome.
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Political Language, or Populist? F-bombs from a Canadian MP

Update: Based on Twitter posts by MP Pat Martin’s son, Liam Martin (Twitter @liam_204) the original messages on @PatmrtinMP were from him. Thank you to Luc Lewandosski @hacksandwonks for the lead


There is a rule provided to political candidates and elected officials by savvy communication advisors – don’t say, publish or post anything unless you would be happy to see the quote on the front page of the national newspaper. Even more true with social media, where it is not only reporters judging what should be publicized, but the public reading, sharing and commenting.

Pat Martin has been the Member of Parliament for the riding of Winnipeg Central (New Democratic Party) since 1997, and one of the more outspoken MPs, not only in terms of the issues he champions, which often go against party policy, but in the ‘colorful’ language employed. (See Wkipedia – Pat Martin)

Knowing that in advance, it was rather surprising to see his Twitter stream from the past few days, which included a number of swear words, including some messages directed at reporters. The screen shot below…(excerpted from www.politwitter.ca)

Pat Martin on Twitter via Politwitter.ca

Pat Martin on Twitter via Politwitter.ca

 

Hacked Twitter accounts are nothing new for politicians, or anyone else for that matter. At first glance the most recent message could be construed as someone else

Pat Martin on Twitter

Pat Martin on Twitter

either having taken over Pat Martin’s Twitter account (a hack), or having access, and acting as him. However, this post to “@LettingSmokeOut fuck you #ndp #cdnpoli” was a direct reply to this conversation thread…

(from) @LettingSmokeOut (Responses to @PatMartinMP) slur have been along ideologies. Also like #occupy vs #teaparty. How far our standards fallen. #cdnpoli #Honour
2 hours ago

(from) @LettingSmokeOut”@PatMartinMP: fuck you #cdnpoli” Does an MP who speaks like that to a fellow Canadian deserve to be called “Honourable”? #sunnewsnetwork
4 hours ago

(from) @LettingSmokeOut@PatMartinMP Sad how a foul mouth socialist capitalizes “Budget” but not “god” #ndp #cdnpoli

Earlier in the day Mr. Martin posted

“This is a fucking disgrace…closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot shit”

– again, on first glance of the stream it appears someone else is posting in the account until you look at the previous days…

On Sunday November 13th at 12:15pm Pat Martin posted to @TabathaSouthey– a Globe and Mail columnist

“this version has been sanitized. The loony shit defending cover-up and trivializing sexual abuse of kids has been pulled”

In between the tweets containing what some might describe as offensive language, are more mainstream messages discussing sports, art, government policy etc. but notably not the usual fluff most politicians post – such as ‘where I am’, ‘we did this’, which, for a political watcher, is rather refreshing. Pat Martin is not a prolific user of Twitter – he tends to post a few messages on certain days going back to July 2011, with days in between having no action.

Responses to Pat Martin

Responses to Pat Martin

For those starting out on social media, and seeking advice from communication consultants, the goal for personal profile accounts is to try and achieve a natural voice. Put your message in the terms you would do face to face. That nuance of language is how we subtly differentiate ourselves from the thousands of others. The caveat of course, is the viral nature of social media – a message can go viral to thousands of readers very quickly – and, it’s permanent. Unless Pat Martin can prove his account was taken over by someone else, without his permission, and those posts are not his, they will live on further than his political career, and may say more about his personality than any press conference.

Will it hurt? Since the F’bomb posts the afternoon of November 16th, the general reaction has been mixed, at least by initial responses…(see right image)

 

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A Cautionary Victoria Tale

A fascinating aspect of social media, especially Twitter, are the stories. often related while they are actually happening. These can be major international events like an earthquake, or hyper local. When a story gains traction, and resonates with others, the replies, mentions, comments from others add to the overall picture – not simply

Homeless in Victoria. Photo courtesy DandelionSociety.ca

Homeless in Victoria. Photo courtesy DandelionSociety.ca

the point of view of a single person, more a valuable community snapshot.

Downtown Victoria has its share of issues: homeless, addiction, street social problems. There have been efforts by local social service groups, the police and politicians to make Victoria’s core a safer, more welcoming and family friendly environment. Some would say the initiatives are working, others that the problems persist.

This guest post by Renée Layberry (Twitter @PublishingRenee) came about through a Twitter conversation she had with Victoria BC locals over incidents she experienced in downtown. Thank you to #YYJ Twitter folks for highlighting this, and to Renée for her time writing her story.

________________________________________________________

Having grown up in the sprawling metropolis of Toronto as well as having lived in the bustling, vibrant city of Montreal for a few years, I’ve always had to keep my “radar” on for potentially threatening situations – and with good reason, since I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of frightening moments. We’ve all seen or read the news of the rampant violence in those cities, as well as in Vancouver and Victoria and everywhere else in between. No place is immune from it, of course, but I must admit that I assumed that relocating to a relatively quiet town such as Victoria would mean that I could look forward to far less of that daily intimidation and sense of danger that was constantly playing in my mental background like bad music in an overcrowded shopping mall.

When we arrived here just over a year ago, I was struck by how extraordinarily nervous I found myself waiting for a bus after dark, even in the relatively early evening. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. At first I chalked it up to a combination of cross-country moving fatigue, a bit of culture adjustment, and the fact that there was simply not the same amount of people out and about at all hours of the night.

I was downtown Victoria returning from Cabin 12 at around 10:30, and, with my 17 year-old daughter, was walking along Douglas street to catch a bus home. Within the span of fifteen minutes, we were approached by two drunken men asking if we’d perform specific sexual acts, watched a man vomiting violently out of a taxi window while sailing along the street, and endured the unwanted attention and monologue of an unpredictable individual who cornered us in the bus shelter for a good fifteen minutes or so while we waited for a bus that seemed to take forever to arrive.

(This, by the way, was not an extraordinarily rowdy night. I don’t go out too much in the evenings, but once in awhile, when I find myself downtown or on the bus after dark, I’m sidestepping “situations”, more often than not.)

When I came home, and after I decompressed for a bit, I went on Twitter and realized that I needed to decompress even more. I tweeted and shared with a few local individuals about what had happened. I was surprised and dismayed to hear a few stories from them about how others have experienced intimidation on a regular basis on the streets of Victoria, ranging from one man’s sister being attacked while inside a car, to another man being pepper sprayed by police while he himself was being mugged. Another woman who had also taken the public transit home from the same social event that I’d attended mentioned that she too had to fend off being approached by unsavoury attention while she clung to her cellphone, listening to the reassuring sound of her husband’s voice until she was “safely” on the bus. Even then, the bus is not an entirely safe place. I have, on a weekly basis, been accosted by individuals who seem to have no sense of boundaries – and this on my morning bus ride in to work. Twice in as many weeks, I have been approached, intimidated with unwanted attention, and even verbally abused, all before 9 AM.

A lifelong resident of Victoria who is quite aware and active on the Twitter feed pointed out that, at the same time that I was tweeting about the unpleasant happenings of my Saturday night, the Victoria Police Department was tweeting about handing out t-shirts as rewards for new drivers who passed a road check. It begs the question: why is this being promoted and given funds and attention when there is obviously so much else going on in our beautiful, compact little city? What is actually being done about the fact that it is increasingly unsafe to walk in public at a perfectly decent hour?

I don’t know what the answer is, and I really do want to give credit to the Victoria Police Department for their efforts to work in what is undoubtedly a strenuous job. Back in February, I had to call the police to come down to my office at the Selkirk Waterfront because an agitated man who had been hostile to my employer the week before (he had asked said homeless man to not camp out in front of our office door) was pounding on the glass and shouting. The police arrived quickly, removed the man (who was well-known to them, the officer told me), and he even gave me a ride home. Of course I was profoundly grateful that the police had responded as quickly as they had, and all was well that ended well.

But I’m still left wondering why I have to feel threatened in Victoria on a weekly basis, and in broad daylight, even, as I go to work at my current office in Antique Row. I don’t want to just sigh and complain and come to some sort of jaded conclusion that it’s because of cuts to services for the mentally ill, and that the meth problem is just something that we all must accept somehow, albeit with a simmering resentment. That’s only going to leave me feeling disappointed and defensive and hostile, and I don’t want that, either.

I suppose I will look to the Twitter community to see what actual initiatives are out there that I can support and endorse. I can hope that my small part may actually make some sort of impact in the long run. I know at the very least that it has to begin with my own attitude. Victoria is our home now, too, and I don’t want to skulk around feeling like a victim. But I don’t want to end up one, either.

* * *

Renee Layberry

Renee Layberry

Renée Layberry lives in Esquimalt with her husband and two teenaged children. She works in the Self-Publishing industry and has a new blog, Sojourns in Publishing,

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Victoria: Social Media and Municipal Candidates

As a followup to the blog post on the Social Media and Politics Panel, the following are some statistics and notes on candidates in the Victoria and Saanich municipal elections and their use of social media in the current campaign.

I would like to thank in advance Bernard von Schulmann (Victoria Vision) and Dan Pollock (YYJ Candidates Twitter List), for collating website links (Bernard) and Twitter accounts (Dan) for declared candidates. Facebook profiles/pages are from my research

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Are You Voting?

The following are Mayor and Council candidates for the City of Victoria (candidate list)  and District of Saanich (candidate list) – note: Saanich District website has a straight html, easily accessible list with candidate websites included, City of Victoria has a PDF with no information other than emails and phone numbers.

Included below are candidate websites, Twitter and Facebook profile links, plus relevant statistics (such as number of Twitter/Facebook friends and posts). If there are no links, then that candidate does not have a particular online/social media profile. The information is current as of November 6th, 2011 – election day is November 19th. If I have missed any candidates stand alone website, Facebook or Twitter profile my apologies in advance, and please do post a comment to let everyone know.

City of Victoria

Mayoral Candidates (4)

Dean Fortin (incumbent): Website : Facebook (2249 friends) : Twitter (1503 followers, 277 updates)
Steve Filipovic : Website : Facebook (309 friends) : Twitter (90 followers, 336 updates)
Paul Brown (Open Victoria): Website : Facebook (122 friends) : Twitter (67 followers, 113 updates)
David Shebib: Twitter (13 followers, 124 updates) : Facebook (230 friends)

Council Candidates (8 incumbents, 12 challengers)

Marianne Alto (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (388 friends) : Twitter (416 followers, 116 updates)
Phillippe Lucas (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (115 friends) : Twitter (385 followers, 314 updates)
John Luton (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (518 friends)
Geoff Young (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (friends info blocked)
Charlayne Thornton-Joe (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (546 friends) : Twitter (34 followers, 2 updates)
Pam Madoff (incumbent) : Website (note- webpage attached to Mayor Dean Fortin’s site)
Chris Coleman (incumbent) : Website
Lynn Hunter (incumbent) : Facebook (689 Friends)

Aaron Hall (Open Victoria) : Website : Facebook (298 friends) : Twitter (1018 followers, 6205 updates)
Lisa Helps: Website : Facebook (192 friends) : Twitter (387 followers, 590 updates)
Shellie Gudgeon: Website : Facebook (45 friends) : Twitter (139 followers, 144 updates)
Linda McGrew (Open Victoria) : Website : Facebook (21 friends) : Twitter (59 followers, 112 updates)
Ben Isitt : Website : Facebook (friends info blocked) : Twitter (197 followers, 36 updates)
Suhki Lalli (Open Victoria): Website : Facebook (3 friends) : Twitter (1 follower, 3 updates)
Rose Henry: Website : Facebook (785 friends)
John Valentine: Website : Facebook (32 friends)
Robin Kimpton: Website : Facebook (11 friends)
Saul Anderson: Website
John Turner
Sean Murray

District of Saanich

Mayoral Candidates (3)

Frank Leonard (incumbent): Website : Facebook (2954 friends) : Twitter (1017 followers, 972 updates)
David Cubberly: Website : Facebook (2411 friends): Twitter (141 followers, 132 updates)
David Shebib: Twitter (13 followers, 124 updates) : Facebook (230 friends)

Council Candidates (7 incumbents, 5 challengers)

Judy Brownoff (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (1230 friends) : Twitter (385 followers, 314 updates)
Dean Murdock (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (892 friends) : Twitter (332 followers, 343 updates)
Vicki Sanders (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (92 friends) : Twitter (71 followers, 134 updates)
Paul Gerrard (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (1151)
Susan Brice
(incumbent) : Website : Facebook (396 friends)
Vic Derman (incumbent) : Website
Leif Wergeland (incumbent) : Website :

Jesse McClinton: Website : Facebook (1408 friends) : Twitter (500 followers, 1117 updates)
Rob Wickson
: Website : Facebook (55 friends) : Twitter (216 followers, 246 updates)
Harald Wolf: Website : Facebook (34 friends)
Nichola Wade: Website
Ingrid Ip

A few points to begin: there are plenty of examples in the above list where candidate websites did not link to their Facebook or Twitter profiles, and vis-versa where their social media profiles did not reference their websites. Online media is essentially integrated. By making it difficult to research activity, links, profiles: candidates are losing audiences. Think about that from the point of view of a journalist profiling local candidates, trying to search correct information, and links, on a deadline – as it was difficult for me to collate the above information (and media are in the same boat), the public and voters are even more frustrated. Candidates often opine that media do not pay attention – I’ve heard many times: “It was posted on the campaign Facebook page, website or Twitter – but media said they did not get it!”, yet if there are no interconnected links, or media have not been advised of a campaign social media profile, there is no right to complain.

Why is Social Media Important? (in Victoria/Saanich?)

Treading very carefully here: At the root of politics IS communication. Campaigns rely on ‘message received, then GOTV’ (get out the vote) – yet just about all Victoria/Saanich hopefuls seem to view social media as peripheral to their strategy. Incumbents in local campaigns especially, do have the advantage of accessing previous volunteers, fund raising, phone/email lists, and public profiles while challengers must create campaigns from scratch.

Engaging websites, Facebook pages/profiles and Twitter accounts are essential in the contemporary media environment, yet many candidates seem unaware of the advantages of open source, free online advice – or placing someone at the helm of campaign communications who has experience. In Greater Victoria especially, few recognize that with ViaTech, Social Media Camp, Word Camp, and a lively education/business community, there is accessible voter influence through an engaged online community. Along side is a commitment from the City of Victoria to Open Data…. (look at that search link – does a CoV published page rank in the top 10?) Yet few incumbents seeking re-election, or new candidates hoping to replace, actually understand the changing demands in communication. It maybe possible to achieve election success without use of a website or social media, but an argument can be made that politicians who do not  utilize online platforms will be ineffective shepherds of policy within the ever increasing demand for continual public engagement.

What the Numbers Say

Some candidates, and incumbents, have only recently created social media accounts – mainly for the 2011 campaign, others have been on Twitter and Facebook for a while. That should be taken into account when judging effective online engagement. As an example, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin’s Twitter account was created in June 2009, yet he has only posted 277 updates. In contrast, Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard created his Twitter profile in November, 2010 with over 970 posts. Candidates such as Aaron Hall have not created separate campaign profiles, simply using their existing personal or business Twitter accounts, which is why their numbers of followers and posts are far higher than others. That might be an advantage as they are able to tap into an already engaged personal community.

Of course, the number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends is only one indication of online engagement. The number of posts, and the content, is a more compelling indicator – along with replies and content that creates conversations. Using the example of Victoria and Saanich incumbent Mayors, Frank Leonard is  more effective at engagement by not only posting more content, but also inviting responses and replies.

Results?

During the BC Liberal Party and Alberta Conservative Party leadership races there was a ‘joke’ prediction by political pundits, including myself, that the candidate with the most ‘social media friends’ would be the winner. That actually proved to be the case – both Christy Clark and Alison Redford had more Facebook and Twitter followers than their opponents. Making that leap to judge the likelihood of success in the local elections might be more problematic, however I would argue that candidates with a high number of social media followers and posts demonstrate an understanding of digital media. That capacity to effectively engage online often translates well in other situations such as all-candidates meetings and campaigning at the door.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

 

 

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Occupy Vancouver – Video and Photos

While in Vancouver I took the opportunity to visit the Occupy Vancouver camp, outside the Art Gallery, in the heart of downtown. What struck me was the size of the encampment, and the facilities including a kitchen, library, meditation tent. It remains to be seen how long the camp will last, but judging by the efforts of the protesters and volunteers, there is an air of ‘permanence’.

Video

Photos

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Digital Media, Policy and Protest

It is a rare privilege for someone in my field, not an academic (in fact, without a post secondary degree), to receive an invitation as a guest speaker at a University of British Columbia Political Science Class. It is a testament to Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega that he actively sources differing perspectives, real world examples, to inform the Poli Sci 350A Students – I note, this term the class has also welcomed Dr. Janni Aragon from The University of Victoria plus MLA and BC Minister of Advanced Education Naomi Yamamoto. For myself, a big thank you to every student: you were warm in welcome, engaging, and had excellent questions.

UBC Poli Sci 350A

UBC Poli Sci 350A - Photo Credit Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega

This presentation (now Blog) is about Digital Media, Policy and Protest. It will likely raise more questions than provide answers, but hopefully will create some awareness of recent and active movements, and maybe identity trends as to how social media is affecting politics and policy currently, and in the future.

My experience is somewhat schizophrenic. I’m a communication consultant, working mainly for businesses and organizations, but active politically for established elected officials at the Federal and Municipal level. I have been both a Campaign Manager and Public Relations Director: former MP Keith Martin as a communications consultant,  Oak Bay Mayor and Federal Liberal Candidate Christopher Causton as communications manager during his bid as Federal Liberal Candidate for Victoria, Campaign Manager for Barry Hobbis in a Victoria City Council by-election – while at the same time either heading or advising public interest groups often not aligned, or opposed, to candidate and party policy aims. { ARESST.org : Scientific Victoria }

Failed Communication Cycles

Failed Communication Cycles

Working both sides has been interesting, to say the least, and provided insight into the dynamic relationship between the public to create attention around particular issues, vs the politicians and governments either trying to absorb, or counter, that pressure. It is the nature of democracy that the tension between governments with set policy aims, and interest groups, will always exist. What is rapidly changing is the way each communicate, the way WE Communicate, and the ability of one to influence the other. We are witnesses to something extraordinary. To some it is rather frightening as the traditional channels of political communication: creating, announcing and implementing policy, have radically altered.

Tim Berners-Lee, heralded as the founder of the world wide web, famously said “You affect the World by What you Browse” – I would argue you affect the world by what you share. The power of the individual has never been more paramount. The time it took humans to find a means to communicate over distance from smoke signals to the telephone has taken thousands of years. The time to move from the static web, to dynamic, to social media took less than twenty years, and we are just beginning to understand the implications. What does social media bring to policy discussions, even implementation?

Social Media in Canada

Social Media in Canada

It is always important to know where we are starting from: While the web has been moving from static to dynamic interfaces – or responsive platforms – since the late 1990s, it was really only in 2006 that the social web entered the lexicon. In that year Facebook moved from a mainly college interest to a public platform, with most of Facebook’s growth between 2008 and 2010. In 2011 the number of active Facebook users appears to have plateaued, yet those stats are worth noting. Around 18% of Canadians are active Twitter users, that growth curve still has potential. Also worth noting, 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

A 2011 Ipsos Reid survey of Canadian Internet and social media usage showed 75% of households had broadband – that’s beyond work access, that 62% had an active social media profile – more importantly, over 50% of the active voters in between the ages of 35 and 55+ were using social media. In BC, those numbers are an average 5% higher with 82% of households having broadband access, and 68% having an active social media profile. The demographic of active voters +45 years, using social media, is far higher in BC than elsewhere in Canada. Think about those numbers for a minute – BC has a population of 3 million, with 68% of those active social media users. Growth in active users is just about equal in both the older and younger demographics.

The most notable shift is not simply the social media platforms broaching a thresh-hold majority of the population, but possibly more important, the means of production – creating media. The cost and technical requirements to create engaging articles, videos, photographs, surveys and petitions has plummeted. An iPhone is a more powerful media production tool than most TV crews had even 10 years ago. Plus – it’s faster! In an incredibly short time frame, really only a few years, the means of creating and engaging an audience has moved from traditional, or legacy, media – to you and me. That has profound implications on government, who are used to controlling the message, and how policy is implemented.

A few examples which illustrate my observations.

Johnson Street Bridge Protest

Johnson Street Bridge Protest

In April 2009 City of Victoria Council received a report from city staff that the Johnson Street Bridge needed either a complete overhaul, or replacement. As per usual practice they held a quick debate at a late night council meeting, resolving to replace the bridge in a decision vote that actually came after midnight. There was little pre-warning to the public on this vote, or even that the bridge was on the agenda for replacement – media were barely covering the issue.

In July of that year, realizing that City Council had failed public interest a few local citizens banded together to raise awareness. With no budget, and very little time, we created a website and Twitter account. It touched a local meme – for better or worse – becoming a medium for local voters to express their concern over how the City was being run. That led to a counter-petition, one of the 1st to be successful in BC, and ultimately a referendum. While the protest was over the bridge decision, there was, and still is, an underlying theme around lack of public consultation.

The City of Victoria has recently passed a motion calling for Open Data and proactive release of information, but we wait to see if that will actually alter the process.

Anti-Proroguing Parliament Rally Victoria BC

Anti-Proroguing Parliament Rally Victoria BC

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament In Early 2010 a University of Alberta lecturer created a single Facebook page protesting the Conservative Government’s decision to prorogue parliament. That quickly grew to 220 000 ‘likes’, and offshoots across the country with rallies and events, petitions and protests from Halifax to Victoria. While the activity did not alter the policy, it raised awareness of the issue – how many Canadians knew what prorogue meant beforehand? – and that movement has a continuing life online and off. The name has changed to Canadians advocating Political Participation, with chapters in, at last count 25 cities, most holding monthly meetings. That is really the first Canadian example of one person affecting the entire country at a political level using social media.

Stop HST NDP Campaign

Stop HST NDP Campaign

The BC HST Referendum  While I would argue the anti-HST movement barely touched the potential of social media, there is no doubt the referendum outcome was somewhat determined by individual online conversations as to signing for or against. Similar to the Johnson Street Bridge, the BC Government failed to inform or hold a public debate before implementing the new tax. This required those protesting to undergo a difficult counter-petition process calling for a referendum, then to further counter an expensive multi-media campaign by the BC Government in support of the HST. Surprising to many, the percentage of YES (Kill the new tax) votes vs NO, (Keep the HST), was far higher than expected, a 9% margin. Going back over Twitter and Facebook was interesting: comments for June and July were overwhelmingly anti-HST. A 70% to 30% sentiment. These were mostly conversations between individuals and small networks, not organizations or political party affiliations. Interesting was a consistent theme that many who voted against the tax actually felt it would benefit the BC economy, however they wished to express anger against the way it was implemented. The referendum was an unequivicable means to voice that message.

Occupy Victoria Rally October 15th 2011

Occupy Victoria Rally October 15th 2011

The Occupy Movement In July Vancouver based Adbusters created and promoted the Twitter hash-tag #OccupyWallStreet and even they are surprised and delighted at how it has formed. There is no doubt this is a social media movement, and quite different from the 1st three examples. There is no single issue or central organization – rather it is being created on the ground, through committees and meetings at each camp. It has longevity –  I note – City of Victoria Council passed a motion supporting the aims of Occupy, Orange County in California went further stating the camps are a form of speech. A reactionary approach by both politicians and government communications staff – either acceptance, or in some cases, removal of the camps.

The occupy movement leads into my conclusion – there has a been a great deal of hand wringing by politicians and pundits over a steady decline in voter turnout. Only 61.9% voted in May’s Federal election, just up from a record low of 59%. The recent provincial and territorial elections all saw record lows, Ontario was under 50% for the 1st time. Municipally, Vancouver and Victoria see average turnouts under 30% Yet, at the same time there are surveys, and examples, that people are politically engaged! A Canadian survey conducted in August 2011 by Vision Critical noted these stats: 57% aged 18 to 35, commonly defined as the ‘youth’ demographic, would engage with government and policy online – but don’t as the platforms to access are unavailable. Across all age groups that number was above 50%. With youth having the lowest voter turnout, and falling numbers across all demographics there is a conclusion that meaningful engagement on policy has to come in between election cycles. This survey, and others, negate the notion that Canadians are apathetic, rather the opposite. HST and Occupy clearly show disparate individuals can identity under a group dynamic. The difference between past protest movements, and what we are witnessing today,  how quickly, they form – largely through social media. The problem for politicians and government is the shift, where they generally speaking had the ability to not only control the message, but the message timeframe. Today, you and I have the same, some would argue, greater ability to shape events as the tools and mediums are now in our hands. Governments are in catch up mode.

Notes and Links

Media Convergence – the Tools: This is a decent place to start understanding the nature of transference of media tools from the corporate to the individual.

YouTube for Government: Google, Facebook and Twitter are starting to roll out free access platforms specifically designed for government to engage with citizens.

PoliTwitter – follow Canadian politicians on Twitter: Stats and more. A great resource

Follow Up Points, Questions, Discussion

Thank you to the students of #Poli350A (you can use that hashtag on Twitter to share the links and conversation!), and Dr. Pacheco, for all the questions following the presentation. I would welcome points, questions, insights – and as this is a public blog, anyone is invited to respond. My Twitter is @matvic, on Facebook, or Google Plus you can also email is that is a more comfortable medium. I do follow back! Please post your responses here, share your thoughts…

  • 1: Considering that Canadian Social Media usage has reached a majority of the population, are governments being left behind? Are there examples where a successful government initiated policy discussion using social media has resulted in consensus?
  • 2: Do politicians need active social media profiles? If they have them, are they using them well, or to potential. If not, does that turn off voters?
  • 3: Very general, and open question – how will social media affect policy discussions? Will it always be protest?

I look forward to your responses

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Social Media and Municpal Politics: Game Changer?

Municipal politics and campaigns in Canada are quite different from the US and EU, where party affiliation, and support, are the general rule. Here, especially in the Capital Regional District surrounding Victoria BC – 13 municipalities, covering a population of 350 000, with 91 elected positions for Mayors, councillors, school boards and regional directors – candidates must individually fund raise and create campaign teams, unless they group together under electoral associations, or achieve ‘undeclared’ support from established federal or provincial parties. Currently, only the NDP and Greens have any sort of local government campaign programs.

Social Media and Local Elections

Social Media and Local Elections - photo credit to Janni Aragon

Monday October 17th, the Victoria Social Media Club held a panel discussion on Social Media and Municipal Campaigns, with local Victoria council candidates Lisa Helps (Twitter @Lisahelps) and Aaron Hall (Twitter @AaroninVictoria), Rob Wickson, running for council in Saanich (Twitter @RobWickson), Bernard von Schulman, campaign manager for Victoria Mayor candidate Paul Brown (Twitter @BCIconoclast) and Pamela Brown, completing an MA thesis exploring social media and citizen engagement. The panel was timely as local election campaigns are underway for a vote on November 19th.

How will Social Media Play in Local Elections?

As moderator, I divided the questions to the panel into two sections. The first around social media use in campaigns, the second part exploring what happens with those connections in between elections. As to the first, it was somewhat surprising that the candidates felt social media connections, and their current use of the platforms at the local level rated so highly – from a 1 to 10 scale the placement was 7 or 8. They all referenced raising topics that generated conversations and debate that not only informed them as to issues of concern, but which issues are highest in the mind of voters.

A second question – ‘Do candidates need to be on social media to add authenticity to their campaigns’ generated a different response. Pamela Brown correctly suggested ‘credibility’ might be a better term (agreed). While most were in agreement that candidates need to utilize all communication platforms to connect with voters, there was less affirmation as to the power to social media to actually affect election results. That was true also in a followup question as to turnout. Local elections in Canada have woefully low rates of voters – 21% in Saanich, 27% in Victoria. None of the panelists felt social media engagement would radically change those numbers, rather it would engage those already committed to vote.

The question on separating personal vs political social media profiles was fairly emphatic. None of the candidates felt it necessary to create different profiles, rather the opposite as it would require their existing contacts to connect with a new account. Noted, that most admitted they were relatively new to social media, still learning (as we all are).

Engagement Between Elections

As a Gov 2.0 and Open Data advocate, the questions around local political engagement in between elections was of interest. The question: ‘you have run a campaign where you can be open, do you anticipate any restrictions on what you can post or even ask on social media when you hold office?’ generated an interesting discussion. Candidates were unsure of rules, but felt open information should be the core. A follow up question of placing ‘trial balloons’ for policy created a different response. Rob Wickson was affirmative that elected officials should ‘get on with the job’, both Lisa Helps and Aaron Hall saw useful purposes of using social media to judge public interest and mood.

My conclusions: candidates active on social media locally in Victoria BC are discovering a new realm of connected individuals and communities. This is the apparent difference between the 2008 local election campaign and now. Many of the incumbent council candidates still do not have any web presence, let aside a Facebook or Twitter profile – yet they hope to be elected as the communication paradigm has changed. Victoria BC has an incredibly active social media community, likely one of the most connected per capita in Canada. That cannot be ignored, but will it actually factor into election results?

Thank you to Social Media Club Victoria BC for organizing the panel ‘Social Media, Citizen Engagement and Municipal Politics‘ – especially to Janis LaCouvee (Twitter @lacouvee)  and Janni Aragon (Twitter @janniaragon) who were paramount in ensuring the event was lively, interactive and educational. It was an honour and delight to moderate

If you are on Twitter @politicsrespun has an election hashtag list

 
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Social Media Leads to #OccupyVictoria

It began with a singular focus for protest from Vancouver BC based Adbusters in mid-July – a simple Twitter hashtag #OccupyWallStreet, with an evocative poster of a dancer atop a charging bull. A loose, ill defined message from an equally diverse group began camping in a park near Wall Street in New York, and solely using the natural connections of social media, the Occupy Movement spread rapidly throughout the United States, into Canada, and across the world.

For some, especially in the media and political realms, the entire lack of organization, along with the length of the original Wall Street protest, was puzzling. How could so many disparate people and groups come together with no common message {other than anger over corporate greed}, without in-depth media involvement, or established political leadership? Of more concern, why were the protesters initially rejecting media in favour of creating their own?

There are obvious parallels with the ‘Arab Spring’. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria activists had to use social media as mainstream sources were (in many cases still are) controlled and censored by oppressive governments. Protest organizers in the United States, Canada and Europe made a deliberate choice to avoid the press releases and mainstream public relations, the hallmark of past protest movements, recognizing the channels available through social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube – are more powerful for organizing, and broadcasting.

Occupy Victoria BC Canada October 15October 15th saw over 1500 rallies and marches under the Occupy ‘Banner’, with 25 events across Canada. In Victoria BC, two events attracted over 1000 people with a lively march from Centennial Square at City Hall, through downtown to the Provincial Legislature and back. A common response from those I asked was they found out about the Victoria events through social, not legacy, media. The number of people taking photos and videos, broadcasting through their own networks and using the #Occupy twitter tags will likely see the protests spread further.

The entire Occupy movement may signal the shift from the power of mainstream media, to the individual and crowd-sourced, to engage and motivate popular, newsworthy attention.

Occupy Victoria Video – October 15th

Photo Gallery

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Social Media and Political Policy: Smart Meters the New HST

Might only be relevant to residents of British Columbia Canada, but a new initiative in this province to essentially ‘re-call’ the BC Hydro smart meters program is a prime example, yet again, of political policy communications gone terribly wrong. Going further, this is an on going case where an established government still cannot read the tea-leaves, or understand, the online outrage, which morphs into real action, over lack of public consideration in policy decisions.

In a previous post I mentioned the HST tax policy which was roundly defeated after a prolonged petition and referendum campaign. Fact is, many who still voted ‘NO’ to the policy did so understanding the benefits of the new tax system, but wished to send a message to policy makers, and communication managers, ‘it is time to include more public discussion’

Notably, in British Columbia the anti-HST movement was able to harness the power of thousands to force a referendum through a petition campaign. The government program to change provincial tax policy was soundly defeated, despite a well-funded counter multi-media campaign to bring voters onside. The lesson to be learned is contemporary policy initiatives require extensive community and stakeholder consultation, in fact acceptance, before implementation. The ability for protest and effective citizen opposition, largely initiated through social media, is too apparent to ignore.

Now, likely building on the anti-HST movement’s success, a new group is forming using the same online and direct organizational tools to force a change in policy around new smart meters.

CBC Vancouver: A group of B.C. residents is following the lead of the Fight HST campaign with an initiative campaign that might trigger a referendum on BC Hydro’s smart meters.

Saanich electrician Walter McGinnis, who speaks for the group Stop Smart Meters, says the public is demanding a say in the installation of the meters.

“This is just a desire to be included in the decision making processes of the province, otherwise known as democracy. People want to have chance to have a say in a democratic fashion,” said McGinnis.

The Stop Smart Meters campaign will gather names of volunteers before submitting an application to Elections BC to register an official initiative campaign, he said.

If approved, the group would seek to trigger a referendum on the meters by collecting signatures of registered voters on a provincewide petition, much like the campaign that eventually led to the end of the province’s HST.

The group is opposed to the meters for a wide range of reasons, including the possible health effects of the wireless technology, the cost of the program, and concerns about privacy and hacking of the systems.

The response from the government to the initial smart meter protest campaign is almost exactly the same wording as when the HST protest began – it’s a done deal, don’t bother protesting.

But both BC Hydro and the province’s energy minister have said it’s too late to stop the billion-dollar conversion of all the province’s 1.8 million hydro meters to the wireless meters. More than 100,000 smart meters have been installed so far. CBC

The point – as with the ongoing, and momentum building Occupy movement, disregarding public engagement in policy deliberations and implementation only drives protest. The open, loose, network of campaigners against smart meters are not identifying with quasi-science around emissions, they are against the implementation.

At least in British Columbia, we are witness to a host of movements reaching beyond established protest groups, essentially saying: politics as we know must change.

 

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