Thursday, April 2, 2009

Challenge to Canadian Politicians: Connect With Us!

I’ve door knocked with my local MPP, worked the phones to pull the vote, been a scrutineer on election night and attended countless political fundraisers. Many campaigns follow the same formula for connecting with potential voters and rely on the same loyal group of volunteers to help them secure their seat.

Canadians who followed President Obama’s campaign are mystified by his ability to connect so well with so many, and such a wide variety of, people. He promised to open up the White House and make American voices heard. Whether they are indeed being heard probably can be debated. Whether they feel they are being heard, and being provided with multiple ways to be heard, can not.

…so to this end, I’d like to challenge Canadian politicians to better connect with their voters and embrace new ways to exponentially increase a door knock or a town hall meeting. (By the way, some MPs and MPPs have indeed made progress in this area but not to the extent we have seen work successfully in the U.S.)

The challenge is simple, easy to execute and inexpensive. The goal is to:

a)Allow voters to see more of your life, values, beliefs and passions (more of you as a whole person not just a politician);

b)Provide additional ways to follow your campaign beyond what is covered in the press (this one will also help better control your message); and

c)Ask for public feedback and set up tools to gather this information. Then,leave it as uncensored as possible.

For some ideas on how to meet this goal, below are a few examples from President Obama’s campaign and term in office.


This micro blogging tool uses text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Obama used it on the campaign trail to provide brief updates on his whereabouts and direct people back to his key messages and websites. This was a great tool especially for connecting to young voters and creating pop-star, groupie status. Here are some of his tweets.

We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you. Thanks11:34 AM Nov 5th, 2008 from web

Asking you to help Get Out the Vote in these last few critical hours of our campaign for change. Visit PM Nov 4th, 2008 from web

In Jacksonville, FL. At a "Change We Need" rally. Watch it live at AM Nov 3rd, 2008 from web


From campaign trail to the Oval Office, Barack Obama continues to use YouTube to reach the masses. His Channel is low cost and low tech yet highly effective showing clips of speeches from the campaign trail, inaugural speeches and even advertisements. It has over a million subscribers and the ability for viewers to post comments – a critical component for not making voters feel like their opinions are being censored.


The official White House blog has postings on everything from exclusive photos for download and closed door meeting updates to the President’s NCAA basketball picks. It’s the Administration’s private – totally controlled - news reports and a great source for the public and media.

Over 6 million supporters connect with the President through a great profile page that shows his favourite pastimes, movies, books and TV shows. His wall is used to motivate his supporters to take action. Here are some recent wall post examples:

Call your elected representatives and tell them to support President Obama's budget. It's a bold plan that confronts the long-term threats to our prosperity and builds a new foundation for economic growth by investing in energy, health care, and education.

The White House is inviting you to post your questions on the economy and vote on submissions from others. The President will answer some of the most popular in an online town hall on Thursday. Submit your questions at

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