It’s no mystery why communicators of all stripes are finding it difficult to ignore digital. That doesn’t change the fact that some people are resistant to take the plunge. My view is if the retired (now 81) Right Hon. Herb Gray can tell me over lunch two years ago that he’d be all over digital if he were entering politics now, then you know this is pretty serious stuff.

Maclean’s is releasing its Parliamentarian of the Year issue tomorrow. They asked me to supply them with information about the role of digital in Canadian politics. They’ve prepared some pretty cool graphics for the issue, particularly the iPad edition.

I thought it would be fun to offer a Sweet Sixteen of the many reasons why Canada can’t ignore digital any longer.

  1. Hélène Campbell increased awareness and organ-donor registrations through a campaign that began online in January. She became an international celebrity in the process. [Full disclosure: I’ve since become a member of the ALungStory team]
  2. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tweet to announce his intent to intervene on the matter of usage-based billing. Then-Industry Minister Tony Clement confirmed that apparent policy announcement in a tweet to CBC’s Rosie Barton.
  3. Jack Layton’s nod to the online community when he said ‘that’s a huge hashtag fail‘ to Stephen Harper during the English language debate in the last federal election.
  4. The Fair Copyright for Canada campaign’s role in pushing then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice to rethink proposed changes to Canada’s copyright act.
  5. On-again-off-again Liberal staffer Adam Carroll’s mean-spirited VikiLeaks campaign which sought to embarrass Public Safety Minister Vic Toews by tweeting details of his divorce.
  6. The #TellVicEverything online movement influenced Safety Minister Vic Toews to take Bill C-30 back to the drawing board. Even Mr. Toews admitted this approach was largely productive and incredibly entertaining.
  7. Social media made an international story out of Michigan police officer Walt Wawra’s letter to the Calgary Sun. This sparked the #NoseHillGentlemen hash tag.
  8. Facebook’s use as a tool for screening attendees from rallies during the 2011 federal election. Criticism of the Conservative party also came in the form of a popular made-for-web video by the Liberal camp.
  9. Michael Ignatieff’s ‘Any time. Any place. tweet in response to Stephen Harper’s one-on-one debate challenge during the last federal election.
  10. Online die-hards were stunned when allegations emerged that their much admired digital geek Treasury Board President Tony Clement used a ghostwriter during a recent online town hall.
  11. The very public Facebook profile of 21 year-old Maygan Sensenberger‘s (Mrs. Liberal-Sentator-Rod-Zimmer) provided attention-getting visuals following her air travel episode.
  12. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s tweet-in when her voice was excluded from debate on Bill C-38.
  13. The Conservative’s anti-iPod Tax attack ads which failed largely because the Conservatives didn’t seem to have their finger on the pulse of digital culture.
  14. The Ontario Liberal smear campaign against NDP candidate Anthony Marco based on an episode of his podcast which was quoted out of context. That attack had collateral damage which may have long-term affects on the pool of political talent.
  15. The Green Party’s relaunch of a living petition to have Elizabeth May included in the debates which apparently fooled the public and media into believing online momentum led to a nearly instantaneous 84,000 Canadian signatures. The actual number was 18,000 in roughly 24 hours.
  16. Justin Trudeau’s self-shot video announcing his entrance into the Liberal leadership race (complete with dishes on the counter and an open kitchen cupboard over his left shoulder).