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Canadians Have A Love-Hate Relationship With Their Politicians On Twitter

There are many things that people rant about on Twitter. For some it’s about the inauthentic “Italian” that they had last night in the Bowery and for others it’s complaints about who lost on any number of the current round of reality shows. But nothing really beats the impassioned pleas of folks who have a particular view of a political situation or person and the dialogue that occurs afterwards. Sometimes those passionate pleas even make it onto the nightly news.

Recently in Toronto, there have been 2 astonishing outpourings in regards to our political leaders.

1. Rob Ford

The 64th and current Mayor of Toronto was elected in October of 2010 to the dismay of many. And while this is not unusual in current politics, what has been extraordinary is the blatant dislike not just for his politics, but for the man himself. And much of it has been taking place over Twitter.

If it’s not a sarcastic slag on S*** Rob Ford Says ( a recent tweet “The biggest challenge [of being mayor] is not being able to attend all of the events.”), then it’s people spouting off about his threats to cut off major assets of the city such as cutting arts programming and opposing the building of bicycle lanes on the roads. One debate that has ballooned because of Twitter is regarding our libraries.

Ford has been all over closing our libraries and it’s caused an uproar in the city. So much so that author @MargaretAtwood launched an online campaign against Ford asking people to sign a petition to keep the libraries open. The war between Atwood and Ford has waged for over a month now and it doesn’t look like it’s about to be over anytime soon. In fact, it has caused some to consider that perhaps Atwood should be Mayor.

2. Jack Layton

The outpouring of emotions over political issues on twitter isn’t always negative. In fact, sometimes it’s downright moving.

Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), was beloved by those who voted for him. But it was utterly shocking to see the impact of his death on Monday, August 22nd. It seemed like the whole country was feeling the loss and tweeted about losing the best Prime Minister we never had and how Jack was going to keep what was important to Canadians safe.

His funeral became an epic event that you could follow on both Twitter and Facebook. Laid to rest on August 27 in a state funeral at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, people not only attended in droves, but 680 News had a live chat and Twitter feed set up and many other news outlets were including up-to-the-minute tweets of the funeral.

The grief will continue as will the posts over social media. Perhaps this will bring people closer together.

As Jack Layton wrote:

My Friends,

Love is better than anger.

Hope is better than fear.

Optimism is better than despair.

So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.

And we’ll change the world.

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