Social media and those damn young progressives

If you ever doubted the impact  of social media, and an active and engaged young electorate, it’s time to stop and look at the reality.

I was watching two major storylines tonight as the provinces municipal election results streamed onto my laptop, iPad and iPhone. The TV was only one for background noise and quickly faded away to the real-time discussion that can only happen online.

First, the progressive candidates proved they have resounding support. That support was loud and clear from the social media population who is mostly younger, more socially progressive, and fiscally more centrist.

Shockingly to many, two major Albertan cities elected young progressive candidates, who ran on new ideas, real-time discussion with the electorate, and on positive messages for the future:

  • Naheed Nenshi, a young progressive Calgarian, who supports efficient government but also the arts, sustainable communities, support for the impoverished and fiscal balance. Won an upset campaign for Calgary Mayor. Nenshi is a proponent for a new way to govern, with empasis on new ideas and transparency. He was a founder of Renew Alberta, who has since joined forces with the refreshed Alberta Party, a provincial political party with many of the same values. (full disclosure, I am the President of the Alberta Party Board of Directors)
  • Bill Given, another young progressive, has performed a nearly identical and shocking victory in Grande Prairie. Upsetting Dwight Logan, strong incumbent and well known and respected mayor. Given is also a progressive who campaigned on the new themes for voters. Sustainability, economic diversity, and a better future for younger Albertans. Given was an early supporter of Reboot Alberta and Alberta Party Big Listen events.

Obviously both these men have done something worth our attention, and my congratulations to both of them. Beyond that, they must have captured the attention of more than just the younger demographic, and we can bet that they won on their ability to share a more interesting future vision for their cities, and both of them used social media wonderfully to get their message out.

In Edmonton, the progressive choice for Mayor was our incumbent Stephen Mandel, who had the support of the engaged young progressives, looking for an alternative to the Envision Alberta endorsed candidate Dave Doward. Progressives spoke clearly that they want Edmonton to be a sustainable city, with a bold vision for the future livability of our city.

The other story tonight that impressed me almost as much, was the way dozens of mostly younger social media champions stepped-up and provided A1 election coverage. I literally stopped watching the live coverage on television about 10 minutes after the election results started to roll-in. Almost for that reason actually.

Open-data provided by the City of Edmonton, was a hallmark foundation for the great website created by Edmonton’s most prolific and hardest working blogger Mack Male. His real-time data agregator website was the hands down winner in providing visually appealing and up to date live election results. It was not only his site that was great, but the way he integrated live twitter feeds within it, mixing real-time data with real-time conversations. The newest, and ONLY way to experience election results.

How much was Mack Male compensated for this hard work? ZERO. Why does his do it? Because he loves the City and truly has the ability to see the future of open-data and how citizens engage with their politics, data and governemnt.

Another big win locally, was the entertaining and comedic live-video broadcast by the team at & Local bloggers Jeff Samsonow and Adam Rozenhart showed us that it takes passion and not necessarily big budgets to grab the attention of the web-savvy audiences.

In Calgary, it was the powerhouse list of bloggers at, that provided excellent long-form blog coverage and then real-time election night analysis. (Both and were domains that I donated to these groups of engaged bloggers to get the local story online, since I knew I could never pull off what they could. A point I am somewhat proud of.)

So Alberta, take note. This is an election that will tell story for sometime to come. Stay tuned, as I think the Provincial impact of these changing winds are still out in front of us.

  • Adriel Michaud

    Mandell was out there. Saw him at more than a few business events. Gave us a chance to see him, talk to him, agree or disagree.

    All I saw of Dorward was the snazzy marketing campaign and over-exuberance of one of his volunteers.

    Mack's coverage helped as well.

  • bingofuel

    Hey Chris,

    Always an honor to be mentioned in a blog, but I'd also like to throw Sally Poulsen's name out there (@sallypoulsen). She was the director/producer of the election-night show I did with Jeff and others, and really the driving force behind it, in my mind. Without her, it would have been quite possibly the least watchable show ever made ;)

  • Chris LaBossiere


    Duly noted! Your whole team created some great stuff.


  • Jeff

    Without Sally it would have been me in my underpants drinking scotch. Screaming about election signs.

    Thanks for the kind words, Chris. You're exactly right in pointing out that with today's technology budgets can be less relevant.

    People want information, people want to be entertained. And if companies like Postmedia, Rogers, CBC, and to a smaller degree this go-round CTV, keep putting on Battle of the Blades on the biggest local news night of the year they'll find out how important content is over budgets. It's a huge opportunity to use that giant stick that sends moving pictures to my living room, so don't squander it.

    Also, thanks to your blog I see that Bill Given won in Grande Prairie. What a win!

  • Sunil

    Amazing how great the coverage of the election was. All citizen generated, with only genuine motivation. Did not have the tv on at all. Just the shareedmonton site and twitter (#yegvote). Really made it feel like an Edmontonians city.

    Along with the "social media plans" the next batch of candidates will read up on, the type of people running for provincial postings will be interesting.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Joe Albertan

    The most important thing about Calgary's election is that Craig Chandler loyalist Peter Demong was elected in Ward 14. Now these residents can truly be free.