JEFF JOHNSTON/Special to Bullet News
Though policy issues and specifics haven’t truly been discuss in detail yet, there are two things that are clear about Justin Trudeau’s pursuit of the Liberal leadership: He’s going for the “youth vote” and social media will play a bigger role in this campaign than ever before.
When Trudeau first decided to run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, he officially announced it first on YouTube.
“I wanted to bring something on to social media that was a real world impact,” says Trudeau.
He had built a small fan base of people following him online and was happy to say, “they got to know first.”
Trudeau has over 180,000 followers and over 66,000 fans on Facebook.
According to politwitter.ca, a web site that collects data on the social media interactions of politicans in Canada, Trudeau is one of the best users of social media presence which may help him secure the youth vote.
“Everyone wants to be popular or liked on Facebook, but if you can’t mobilize people through that into real world action, that doesn’t go anywhere,” says Trudeau. “I wanted to bring something on to social media that was a real world impact,”
Though social media may be an effective way to communicate with younger voters, the difficulty is getting them to fill out a ballot when come election time. College and university-age Canadians, usually in their late teens or early twenties typically have the lowest voter turnout.
Trudeau does seem confident that he can restore optimism in young voters across Canada.
“I think we have a generation who are more interested in what’s going on with the world. More involved in community issues and big single issue causes and international issues than the generation before them,” says Trudeau. “The fact that they don’t think that politics is a worthy use of their time, is much more a reflection of the politicans, than it is young people.”
Social media does appear to have an affect on some. Despite the snowstorm that kept many people indoors, Niagara College student Philip Hoffman still made the trip to the Welland Arena Friday afternoon to meet Trudeau.
“I saw on Justin’s Facebook page that he was going to be here, so I was happy I could come,” says Hoffman.
Trudeau recently launched his “soapbox” on his personal web site. On this site, Canadians can send messages, ideas and questions directly via any social media channel.
“I know that we’re getting close to a tipping point where young people are going to realize our collective power to make change,” says Trudeau. “I’m very, very excited about what I’ve heard across the country about young people who realize, its our turn to step up.”
Jeff Johnston is a 26-year-old student-journalist from Kitchener, currently studying at Niagara College. He earned his bachelor of arts in political science at Brock University.