NDP Leadership Convention: Social Media Is Writing the Ticket To The Top

The Huffington Post Canada  |  By Posted: 03/24/2012 1:14 pm Updated: 03/24/2012 9:36 pm

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This NDP convention has seen the use of social media by the candidates.
UPDATE: Thomas Mulcair was elected leader of the NDP on Saturday at the party's convention in Toronto.

The NDP may be filling the rafters and halls at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre -- some 4,000 supporters are in the house this weekend -- but the real mixer is online, where more than 120,000 are tuning into the leadership race.

And it's no surprise that the candidates that have made it this far have tuned in toothem.

The major players -- Thomas Mulcair, Brian Topp, Peggy Nash and Nathan Cullen -- have been tweet machines throughout the race.

LIVE BLOG: UPDATES FROM THE CONVENTION FLOOR

On Saturday, as the pivotal votes streamed in (website fails notwithstanding), front-runner Thomas Mulcair had tweeted about a dozen times before noon. His messages -- gracious and pointedly bilingual -- were aimed at his fellow contenders:

@M_SinghCares has brought so many new members into the #NDP family. Congratulations on a strong campaign!

But they didn't go unnoticed by the rest of the Twitterverse.

Dr. J.P. Wheeldon noted Mulcair as the "only candidate on my feed acknowledging campaigns of those who dropped out."

And that sums up how the front-runners have managed their social campaigns since the hat officially dropped last September -- competitive, but not cutthroat. No candidate has strayed from the underlying theme of party unity above all -- a fitting quality, of course, for a leader.

'Fighter. Builder. Leader.' That's how Peggy Nash introduces herself to the Twitterverse. It's as concise and polished a leadership plank as anything seen on a front yard at election time. The suggestion? One quality leads logically to another. A fighter, no doubt -- and as an MP for Toronto's Parkdale-High Park riding, a proven builder. The next logical step? A leader.

Well, not so fast. Results from Saturday's second ballot pushed Nash out of contention. Even then, she wasted little time in taking her closing thoughts to Facebook.

"It has been an amazing campaign and I look forward to taking on the Harper Conservatives in Parliament!" she wrote. "Thank you to all of our supporters from across Canada and thank you to the amazing campaign team. It has been a truly grassroots campaign that we built from scratch."

And, of course, from cyberspace.

Nash, whose 6,000-plus followers eclipsed those of front-runner Mulcair, has certainly been an aggressive tweeter -- with a focused, persistent message.

She frequently mines a vein of support and endorsements -- sometimes one coming right after another:

Proud to have gained the support of Rathika Sitsabaiesan (@RathikaS), MP for Scarborough-Rouge River.

Thrilled to pick up the support of Ethel LaValley, an inspiring #aboriginal labour movement leader. Thank you!

Nash has also pushed that message of legitimacy with tweets about interviews in mainstream publications.

Likewise, her communications guru Pam Kapoor has placed the social onslaught front and centre for the campaign.

“In order to capture the remaining eligible voters, campaigns will have to be strategic, savvy and nimble,” Kapoor told Global News.

That explains, of course, why the hashtag #NDPldr was given such a workout, trending on Twitter throughout the weekend. And, naturally, each candidate made the trending rounds during their convention speeches.

Even NDP Charlie Angus got in on the action, getting a big boost from his rap endorsement of Paul Dewar -- even though it would ultimately prove futile. Dewar dropped out of the race after results from the first ballot poured in.

This year's social media surge may seem unprecedented, but it's very much in keeping with a longstanding party mantra: bring us your youth. This cyber-surge is simply a recognition that today's youth don't hurl their political messages from the the foot of Parliament Hill.

Armchair activism is the name of this game. And these NDP candidates are fully engaged.

Niki Ashton, who dropped out of the race on Saturday, gave a telling interview to CP24 on the subject.

The 29-year-old gave one of the few rousing speeches at the convention -- a delivery that made 'Niki Ashton' a trending topic worldwide on Twitter.

When CP24 told her about it, she exclaimed, "Holy Sh**! Really?" Then they asked what she planned to do about it.

Her reply?

"I'm going to tweet about it, of course!"

LIVE FROM THE NDP CONVENTION FLOOR

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Thank you for joining us. Lots to review here:

Convention Coverage, HuffPost Style: The Huffington Post Canada brings you comprehensive coverage of the NDP leadership convention in Toronto, with photos, behind-the-scenes video, opinion and reporting from the convention floor.

Updates at @HuffPostCanada, on our Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj's Facebook Page, on our NDP leadership site, and on our politics page and our front page.

DELEGATES LEAVE THE HALL


After a long two days, delegates file out of convention for good

Mar 24, 2012 | Source: Keek.com

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@ RyanPainterShow : It is AMAZING how quickly ppl have ALREADY written off @ThomasMulcair based on his first speech. You'll see, is all I have to say #ndpldr

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@ alishasawhney : Muclair represents the new face of the NDP in Canadian politics. Was his lack of vigour in his speech just due to exhaustion? #ndpldr

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@ seleross : I only have twitter over here. Terrible reviews of speech; no idea what was actually said. #ndpldr

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@ tomhawthorn : No question. Fiasco of a victory speech by Mulcair. Wonder who'll tell him? #ndpldr

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@ itsabbeyk : After 7 months of campaigning and 12+ hours of coverage on CBC, it's finally over and an ex-Liberal is leading the NDP. #ndpldr

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@ freethephoenix : Wonderful speech, Mulcair!! And Congratulations!! Don't heed the haters :) We'll make Canada better for them, too. #ndpldr

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@ RayCecile : Mulcair's speech didn't say anything about putting a sound policy in place that will help business' create jobs #cdnpoli #ndpldr

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@ SimStr1 : No fire in @thomasmulcair. We need fire from the left and @ElizabethMay has it. We'll see who inspires youth! #ndpldr

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@ ocean_raven : Rethinking my support of the NDP now that Mulcair is in the leadership role. I do not trust him. #ndpldr

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@ evansolomoncbc : Thomas Mulcair says "in order to have first ndp fed govt our party must reach beyond traditional base" #cdnpoli #ndpldr

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@ IvisonJ : "Our future is limitless, if we get our priorities right" - Mulcair. He made that line sound like he was ordering pizza. #ndpldr

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"From medicare to public pensions, these values are reflected in the institutions we built, institutions we risk losing under the polices of the current government."

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@ Snafulp : @HuffPostCanada There goes Jack Layton's dream and hardwork down the drain..This man is a wolf in sheep's clothing..I am so sad today

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@ stphnmaher : Sad faces in Topp bleachers. http://t.co/5cNHC4CY

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@ althiaraj : "Our future is limitless if we get our priorities right," Mulcair says

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@ SusanDelacourt : Okay, @ThomasMulcair is reading, not delivering his speech. #ndpldr

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"Democracy can't just mean the right to vote. Democracy must also mean .. knowing that your vote matters."

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Mulcair: (paraphrased) The youth are so turned off by today's politics they won't vote. It's not that they don't care, it's that they don't trust their vote will make a difference.

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Mulcair talks about the people he met in community centres across the country:

"The voices of those Canadians should not only be heard, they should be at the centre of our national agenda."

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@ rachelmendleson : Broadbrent joins Mulcair, other candidates on the stage #ndpldr http://t.co/qrY9yq5N

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To my mother, my mom, who with her brothers and sistgers is up north watching us, hello!

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And the speech begins.

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Dec 31, 1969 | Source: Keek.com

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Dec 31, 1969 | Source: Keek.com

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Dec 31, 1969 | Source: Keek.com

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@ althiaraj : Thomas Mulcair leaves bleechers to come give his speech to #ndpldr candidates http://t.co/8MiiVF0M

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It's no secret Thomas Mulcair has some unifying to do. Expect to hear much about this in the speech, which will happen momentarily

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(CP) Montreal MP Thomas Mulcair has been chosen to succeed Jack Layton as leader of the federal NDP.

Mulcair claimed 57.2 per cent of the vote in a fourth-ballot victory over chief rival Brian Topp, who claimed 42.8 per cent.

The two front-runners were the last men standing after a day-long voting marathon that was plagued by online delays, the result of an attempted cyber-attack on the party's website.

Long-shot candidate Nathan Cullen persisted until the third ballot, outlasting rivals Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar, Niki Ashton and Martin Singh.

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Nycole Turmel as well in an apparent show of NDP solidarity

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