Monday, March 26, 2012

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Go time.

In several recent discussions with fellow denizens of the Twitter-verse, the topic has inevitably shifted to the question of "how useful is Twitter going to be in this election?"

Invariably, the answer has come back "it will be all but useless".

The water is already too cloudy. There is not a single undecided person posting frequently to the hashtag #abvote. And the "discourse", if you want to call it that, it already so vitriolic as to have any undecided voter who DOES wander into the discussion run from their computer in abject horror. It's like watching a "Kirk/Picard" debate on steroids.

The blogs are going to be king in this election's Electronic Front. And the bloggers are up to the task.

Some of what you read is going to be opinion. We've all got biases. But here's a little secret: So do the guys in the print media. And the radio. The difference is, bloggers are usually more up front about their biases. A lot of print and radio guys hide behind their "Media" badge, and think that no one will notice they haven't had a good thing to say about the PC's in 15 years. But we've all noticed.

A lot of what you read on the blogs is going to be stone-cold fact. It's important to know the difference. As one of my favourite quotes goes, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. No one is entitled to their own facts." Find blogs you can trust - I'll try to help, but don't just take my word for it. Ask questions of people in the "Comments" section of their blogs. Ask them to back up their statements with hard facts. That's part of your job, as a citizen: Keep the politicians AND the media honest, by making sure they know you're watching what they say with a cocked eyebrow.

I'm going to make sure the blogroll on the right of this screen is up-to-date with quality Alberta bloggers who can help you try to cut through the noise. I'm going to give you a little bit of opinion - MY opinion, not spin from this party or that party. NO party tells me what I can and can't say. But I'm going to try and stay in the straight-and-narrow "fact zone" as much as possible - only because I know so many won't, and the whole reason this blog was born 5-and-a-half years ago was to provide coverage that others weren't.

My interest is in having the best candidate from each of the 87 constituencies elected as MLA, with massive voter turn-out and millions of my fellow Albertans casting informed ballots.

I want to be well-governed. I'm not hung up on the ideas of "left" and "right". I just want vision, and good ideas that we can afford. That's how I'm making my decision on voting day - and no, it's not made yet. It won't be made listening to party leaders talk, either. MY vote goes to a local candidate - and they're going to have to earn it.

By the way - YOUR vote goes to a local candidate, too. Unless you're in Calgary-Elbow, you can't vote for Alison. And unless you're in Highwood, you can't vote for Danielle. You think you're voting for a party, volunteering for a party, donating to a party...  but you're not. Don't believe me? Ask the people who thought they were voting Tory in 2008 in Airdrie and Calgary-Fish Creek. Or who thought they were voting Liberal in Lethbridge-East. You local candidate gets to do whatever the heck they want with your vote - make sure they're worthy of your support.

You're going to find me - and people much smarter than me, too - on several other sites through this election as well. Be sure to bookmark "" and "" - many hands make light work, and many different voices make for more interesting harmonies.

In 28 days, we will have chosen a government.

Inform yourselves, and choose wisely.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere we go...

 - E.S.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Shaw-t Through The Heart...

At 12:30 this afternoon, Cindy Ady, the PC MLA for Calgary-Shaw, announced via Facebook and on Twitter that she would not be seeking re-election in this spring's general election.

The move comes on the heels of the PC's finally reaching a full slate of 87 candidates, after the conclusion of the Calgary-West nomination this past weekend which was brought on due to complaints of voting irregularities in the constituency's initial January PC nomination vote.

This surprise announcement by Mrs. Ady, former Minister of Tourism, Parks & Recreation, leaves the PC's with a hole to fill in their candidate slate before the writ can be dropped. The timeframes involved suggest that a candidate appointment might be made, rather than a full nomination contest - a process which can take no less than 2 weeks under the PC constitution.

Stay tuned, folks...  the silly season is upon us!

- E.S., who can see Calgary-Shaw from his house (with apologies to Sarah Palin).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

And The Winner Is... #abvote

Nation, you spoke loud and clear, and the winnter of the "Alberta's Election Hashtag" election, with 53% popular support, is "#abvote".

Now, this isn't to say that candidates and supporters aren't going to - by design or out of ignorance - flood their messages with other hastags, like #yeg, #yyc, #ymm, #wrp, #wap, #ablib, #changefromwithin, #40isenough, #pcaa, #abpc, #pcelxn, #ndp, #abndp, #evrgreen, #abparty, #abvotes, #abpoli, #ableg, #roft... and those are just the ones I've seen TODAY.

But a word to the wise: When you're limited to 140 characters, every hashtag you decide to use to further your point or broaden its reach, takes away from the space you have to make that point. Brevity and clarity count.

I know, I know...  the Enlightened Savage talking about brevity. I admit, I had to look it up. ;)

IF YOU'RE A CANDIDATE: Your party probably has someone who can give you social media tips, particularly when it comes to Facebook and Twitter. If you don't know, ask your campaign manager. If S/HE doesn't know, talk to the party directly. And if you can't get help with it and you don't feel comfortable, there are dozens of firms out there that specialize in this stuff who can give you pointers and tips on how to effectively use this tool, and how to coach your campaign team and supporters to do the same.

Social media is a tool. Like a hammer. You can't build a solid house, or win a campaign, using only one tool. But if you're using it ineffectively, or using a hammer to try to drive a screw, it can sure come back to bite you. Talk to the experts. You'll be glad you did.