The Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (CAPP) Facebook group may have been the long-short colt when it was launched by Christopher White a few weeks ago. Today it’s the sleek stallion which Michael Ignatieff officially mounted with an open letter to the group and an invitation for all to participate in an online town hall meeting on his Facebook page, Jan. 21 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST.
For Canadian politics, this is an exciting time. This is the first real public issue to create a digital space actively occcupied by both the public and politicians. And, Mr. Ignatieff is getting in the game at the right time. You see, the story about the Facebook group and its 206,967 members(at the time of this post) has become just as significant as the issue that brought the group together.
Ignatieff’s online town hall may not be the most sexy use of digital tools, but it’s a start. And it shows he’s making an effort to connect.
CAPP is blazing new trails for digital government in Canada. I expect we’ll hear a growing number of politicians graduate from talking about the email messages they receive to talking about and participating in social networks, blogs, microblogging and online media including podcasts after the coming throne speech. Which means we can expect a greater focus on digital campaigning in the next election.
The question becomes, will digital engagement translate increased awareness into increased voter turnout (particularly among young voters) in the next election?