1. Behold the Tory Twitter king. Tony Clement has more influence than his boss. According to a new study, the Industry Minister's fast thumbs and penchant to tweet everything about his life – including policy decisions he is about to take – make him even more powerful than Stephen Harper.
Released late last week, the study looks at federal politicians and how they're using social networking. It found that, at the time, Mr. Clement had 7,848 followers on Twitter compared to 80,698 followers for the Prime Minister.
One would think that followers alone make you more powerful but a scoring system called Klout, which measures the reach and influence of Twitter users, shows there is more to it than a simple popularity contest.
Mr. Clement's Klout score is 62 and he has a "True Reach" of 3,000, according to the study. Mr. Harper, meanwhile, has a Klout score of 58 but a "True Reach" of only 9. That's because Mr. Clement tweets constantly, engages his audience and makes a "meaningful connection." The Prime Minister does not; instead, he sends out links to press releases and photo ops.
The study – Peace, Order and Googleable Government – was put together by Mark Blevis, a digital communications and public relations specialist who last year looked at how MPs use Twitter in a study called House of Tweets.
In his latest report, Mr. Blevis says MPs "are slowly adopting" networking tools to communicate with their constituents. He found that only 51 of 308 MPs have blogs, of which only 19 have posted "fresh content' in the last three months –most of which is limited to official statements.
There are 133 MPs with personal Facebook profiles. Those who are successful, he says, actively write and adding content to their page.
And he found that 101 are MPs actively using Twitter, up from 62 when he conducted his previous study last year. But Mr. Blevis notes that what hasn't changed is the "confusion regarding Twitter influence." Again, it's not measured by the number of followers – and Mr. Clement is a prime example.
"Since he started tweeting in March 2010, Tony Clement has set the bar high for Tweeting MPs," Mr. Blevis says. "Mr. Clement tweets a nice blend of information, entertainment and political value. Like many, he's experienced some of the dizzying highs of social media success and flirted with the dangerous waters of digital missteps."
2. 'Like Berlusconi's Italy.' NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus is unimpressed with some recent Harper government appointments. First it was Friday's announcement of an ADQ partisan as vice-chairmain of the CRTC and then Monday a former ADQ MLA was appointed to the CBC board.
"What we're seeing here is a complete contempt and disregard for Canadian institutions by the Harper government," Mr. Angus charged Monday. "This puts us in the category of being like Berlusconi's Italy. Are we a Banana Republic or do we have independent bodies that have clear standards of how people are appointed?"
Mr. Angus noted that the government has "intervened and undermined" the CRTC. Last week, for example, it announced it would overturn a decision on usage-based Internet billing if the regulator did not reconsider it.
Now he says with a Tory supporter on board the government "won't need to overrule if they basically have their own people at, at the Chair."
3. De-stigmatizing depression. Daron Richardson committed suicide in November; today would have been her 15th birthday.
Her father, Luke, is a former NHL player and now assistant coach of the Ottawa Senators. He and his wife Stephanie made the circumstances of their daughter's death public, taking out of shadows the stigma around suicide.
On Tuesday, Ottawa area MPs, led by Government House leader John Baird are meeting on the Hill with the Richardsons to promote their efforts to raising money for youth mental health and suicide prevention programs.
NDP MP Paul Dewar will be there, too. In his life before politics he taught students in Grade 7 and 8, who were around Daron's age, and remembers having to deal with those suffering depression. And when the Richardsons went public with their tragedy, he and his wife sat down and spoke to their two sons, ages 15 and 12.
"When it happened we sat down and talked about it because at that age you have to be clear with them and talk about those issues when they happen," he said.
And he hails the "courageous" stand take by the Richardsons in going public with their late daughter's plight. "I was just taken by it," Mr. Dewar said.
"I think we should all honour the fact that they did and take the opportunity to support the work they've done because so many young people are affected by this."