Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Power to the People!

Nation, I was up through much (but CERTAINLY not all) of last night's debate on Bill 44. A lot of good points were made in opposition, some good points were made in favour, and at the end of the night (or, if you prefer, in the early part of the morning) the Bill was passed through the Committee of the Whole.

Something... unexpected... happened during this all-night debate, however.

The people - severely normal Albertans - Martha and Henry - started talking about their thoughts on the Bill, through Twitter.

And the MLA's were RESPONDING.

Nation: This is, I believe, a harbinger of a brave new world in governance. As was pointed out by a Tweeter last night, when else in history has a citizen been able to speak to his elected representative, DURING debate on a Bill, after midnight in order to express his opinion?

Log-in to Twitter, and do a search for #ABLeg and #Bill44 - see for yourself the kind of discussion that was going on, well past 4 in the morning. Citizens, journalists (who are ALSO citizens, by the way), and MLA's alike - there was a real, honest-to-goodness dialogue going on about the Bill. I've got to believe that this will not be the last time we can expect this sort of thing. As the technology has advanced to the point now that we can watch our representatives debating a Bill at 1:30 am, and send them messages containing our opinions, and they can respond in kind - we are on the cusp of something extraordinary.

From this, good and transparent, truly representative and accessible democracy springs forth.

It's an exciting time to be an engaged citizen in this province.

(In particular, big kudos to the Twitter contributions of @taudette, @AllieW, @davecournoyer, @sirthinks, @DebraWard, @chrislabossiere, @Imparo, @tinyperfectblog, @KenChapman46, @lisa_mack, @brittanykustra, @BreakenNews and @Paulatics, and MLA's @RAndersonMLA, @KyleMLA, @JonoMLA, @GriffMLA, and @LindsayBlackett. You're all pioneers.)

For other perspectives on last night's events, check out Ken Chapman and Tiny Perfect Blog, as well as Capital Notebook.

For the Hansard transcript of last night's debate, click here.


Calgaryrants said...

ES..I just joined twitter last week and I am amazed by its power. I never saw the point of it before, but I can see it now.


Allie Wojtaszek said...

Thanks. I too think that this kind of citizen engagement can become something powerful... we shall see.

PS. I had a slight keyboard accident so if there is an immediately previous comment here that makes NO sense, post this one instead.

Sirthinks ( John Winslow) said...

Unfortunately the MLA's on Twitter, Conservatives all, were by and large justifying the Bill as opposed to listening to our, ordinary Albertan's, disdain for it.

Indeed it was both historic and ground-breaking. It was also tiring and exciting to be part of the experience.

Thanks for the shout out in your article.