Remember the anti-prorogation movement of 2008/2009? It started online and managed to make hay/headlines of a procedural tactic that was being exploited by the federal government. The one thing the movement couldn’t do is convert public interest. Sure the Facebook group had a lot of ‘Likes’. That did little to distill and help the public understand the issue and even less to attract participation in coordinated national and even international rallies. It was a lot of noise to the government. And they ignored it.

Fast forward three years to 2012. An online movement called #TellVicEverything was a creative and effective way to convince Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and the governing Conservatives that perhaps revisiting Bill C-30 was a very good idea. That movement was unique in Canada. It was the first time something so large scale managed to achieve a goal almost entirely withing the digital space. Let’s face it, it was not the right time of year to go out and rally.

I still believe #TellVicEverything may be one of the big digital game changers of the year in Canadian politics. However, there is a strong contender gaining steam everyday. And this one… well, it will probably get in the way of Prime Minister Harper’s Christmas down time.

There’s enough being written about #IdleNoMore, the First Nations youth-initiated awareness and activism campaign. It started on social media and it still enjoys a significant and growing amount of energy online. That’s not all. It’s spilling out on to the streets and shopping malls of Canada (cue Subdivisions by Rush). Even weather can’t stop this movement. Propelled by a hunger strike by Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation. She insists she will only meet with the Prime Minister. Each day that passes without that meeting feeds the #IdleNoMore movement even more.

You can read about the rallies at your choice of Canadian media outlet. It’s pretty much first page news this week. My contribution will be what I do most often… conduct analysis of the online movement using Sysomos MAP.


It’s clear Twitter dominates all online mentions of the IdleNoMore movement. So much so that the other media barely register on the graph. The chasm between Twitter and the rest is so wide, event a Twitter vs. all other media bar graph is pointless. Note I did not evaluate Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit or other popular social media sites. I could. And I could also give up work, family and sleep.

Channel Mentions
Forums 255
Video (including YouTube) 350
Blogs 399
Flickr (photos) 471
Facebook 607
News 623
Twitter 131,755

The issue is gaining online momentum outside of Canada as well. In fact, mentions from new sources based in the U.S. account for 46.8% of all online news coverage. That’s nearly neck-and-neck with Canada (47.6%). The U.S. also dominates Forum mentions (95.6%). Remember, though, there are only 255 of those.

A weighted average puts Canada at 85% share of overall voice and the U.S. at 8.8%.

121220-IdleNoMore-Countries-newsThe analysis that follows show how the movement has grown between December 1 and December 21 (inclusive). Note that because I’ve included today, the last bar on the graph represents traffic on the 21st only until 9amET. I’m fairly certain today’s activity will exceed yesterday’s. As we head into the weekend and the Christmas holiday, we’re likely to see activity slow down though remain active enough to keep the movement going and keep the media spotlight on the issue.

Unlike most analysis I’ve performed on issues of Canadian politics and public affairs, online mentions of #IdleNoMore are led by women (55%).


Notice that when I restrict the evaluation period to December 10 through 20 (inclusive), we see that traffic over that 10 day period averaged out to 428 relevant tweets per hour. That’s an average of just slightly more than seven #IdleNoMore tweets each second for 1o straight days.


Most of the Twitter traffic is retweets (70%, amplification) of tweets by others (24%). Overall, there is very little conversation (6%). Most participants come and go in a single tweet (66%). The more actively involved participants account for 30% of all tweets; 24% each issuing 2-4 tweets, 5% each issuing 5-7 tweets and 6% issuing 8 or more tweets.


The most popular video of the movement is “Idle No More – Round Dance Flash Mob at WEM in Edmonton” (shown below). It was recorded and published to YouTube on December 18 and has already amassed 36,822 views, 418 likes and 6 dislikes.

So… how’s the Government fairing in sentiment? According to a random sample of tweets, not well. While a majority of tweets (51%) report facts, meeting times, link to articles and generally offer no specific sentiment (other than being tagged with the #IdleNoMore hashtag), 48% of tweets are critical of Prime Minister Harper or the Government either through direct language or clear inference. Only 1% of tweet indicate some form of support of the Government or issue criticism of the #IdleNoMore movement and First Nations people.

And since so many people like to know what’s being said, this Word Cloud shows the most popular terms attached to the #IdleNoMore tag. The more common the word, the larger and bolder it appears in this graph.