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article imagePMO attempts to appeal to Canadians with YouTube channel

By Stephanie Dearing     Mar 12, 2010 in Politics
Stephen Harper's handlers are working to make Canadian Prime Minister appear more approachable by introducing a YouTube channel where users can submit questions to the PM.
Ottawa, ON - After the success of Stephen Harper's apparently spontaneous move to get up and sing a Beatles song at a National Art Center concert last year, the Prime Minister's Office appears to have realized that allowing less formal interaction with Canadians carries a lot of coin socially. The office has created a channel on YouTube where video of Prime Minister Harper can stream live and unfiltered directly to Canadians.
The livestreaming launched Thursday on Talk Canada, with a speech to Parliament from Harper on Canada's Economic Action Plan shown in real-time on You Tube. To further encourage buy-in, the PM's Office has promised that Harper will go live to answer the most popular question asked by Canadians following Harper's response to the Speech from the Throne streamed on You Tube Thursday morning. A video statement on the You Tube channel states Canadians will determine which question Harper will answer live through a vote, a strategy the office appears to have not thought through.
The initial success of the strategy must have pleased Harper's handlers enormously. CTV reported that Harper's live streaming on You Tube went viral, with over 21,000 people having voted on 400 questions posted since Thursday. Indeed, Canadians continue to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity to have Harper in the hot seat, with thousands of questions posted for the Prime Minister by Friday morning.
Those questions and the overwhelming critical tone of the questions may have the PM's office regretting its strategy. As of Friday morning, there were over 2,600 questions and comments, with over 63,000 views, although it is unknown how many of the posts are cranks or spam. As could be expected, questions range from topics such as federal accountability, the practice of democracy in Canada, and queries about job creation, to Haitian relief. Nothing is sacred, and many questions are profane.
One of the most popular themes concerns the legalization of marijuana, although questions about why Canada is not investing in the Green Economy form a common thread, as are queries about Afghan detainees. Some of the more popular questions ask when Harper might resign and questions about Rahim Jaffer, such as this one: "Mr. Harper,
how do I become a first class Canadian, like Mr. Jaffer, so I too can drive drunk, do coke, drive dangerously, break the law and get the charges dropped. Yeah, I know, the justice system is for the nobodies but how do I get into that first class club? Do I have to actually become a conservitive or can I just get it by being rich and giving your party a big, fat donation. I don't need it right now but one day I might. I hate being a second class Canadian, first class is more fun! "
While the government explained its reasoning for streaming Harper live on You Tube as "... ensuring that it uses new and innovative ways to get in touch with Canadians,". Note to the Prime Minister's Office: the strategy to make Harper appear more approachable might work best if Harper was allowed a real-time live-streaming question and answer session with Canadians.
In an Ekos poll conducted for the CBC, released Thursday, the Conservatives have a slight edge on the Liberal Party.
Stephen Harper will be live on You Tube on March 16th at "approximately 7:00 p.m. EST" to answer the question voted most popular.
More about Stephen Harper, YouTube, Social media, Live streaming, Prime ministers office
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