Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Trudeau Joins New Era of Engagement

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Trudeau Joins New Era of Engagement

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Trudeau joins new era of engagement


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Dec. 18:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was relaxed and in his element as he answered questions on everything from the Canadian Pension Plan to the new Star Wars movie during a town hall meeting Wednesday hosted by Maclean's magazine in Ottawa.

Dressed in shirt sleeves, he took questions from a studio audience, Twitter and journalists, thus straddling the old world of communication and the new age of digital engagement. You could watch it live on your computer or smartphone.

It was a version of e-politics, which hasn't been fully embraced by Canadian politicians until, perhaps, now.

Trudeau promised to make such appearances on a regular basis and to take the show on the road to escape "the Ottawa bubble."

Was it just a different spin on the familiar refrain of incoming prime ministers promising to be more open and accountable?

Former prime minister Stephen Harper, remember, promised to be more transparent and accessible than the previous Liberal government when he was elected in 2006. Nine years later, he was leading the most secretive, paranoid and anti-media government in modern Canadian memory.

It's too early to say if Trudeau will lose interest in talking to real Canadians on a regular basis if his government's fortunes take a swing for the worse.

His commitment to social media, however, is not calculated or cynical. The prime minister, who turns 44 on Christmas Day, was raised and educated at the beginning of the computer era. Unlike some people, he is not intimidated by it and he fully grasps its potential to raise the level of political engagement. He's a natural social-media politician.

The previous Conservative government used social media, too, but largely for old-fashioned partisan purposes. The Conservatives were the first to use Twitter for news releases, but the messages were not about engagement so much as distributing their version of the news directly to followers and sidestepping the press corps. …

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