The Canadian Cabinet’s first day on Twitter

Tweets by the new Canadian Cabinet that resonated most strongly

Tweets by the new Canadian Cabinet that resonated most strongly

Will Canada’s new Cabinet use social media to engage with Canadians?

Canada’s new government was sworn in yesterday. The new Cabinet is dramatically different from its predecessor, with a marked decrease in age, the achievement of gender parity in its composition, and greater diversity of representation.

As I watched the swearing in of the new Cabinet, I wondered whether the new Cabinet will use social media more or differently than their predecessors. And I thought it would be an interesting research project to track their use of it over time.

So, today, I’m launching the first what I intend to be a series of posts looking at how the Trudeau Cabinet is using social media. Today’s post looks at the use of Twitter on the day that Cabinet was sworn in.

How did I go about developing this perspective?

Shortly after the Cabinet was announced, Twitter Canada posted a list of the Twitter IDs of each of the 30 of the 31 incoming Cabinet Ministers. (One Minister, Dominic LeBlanc is not on Twitter.)

I created a watchlist of these IDs in 76insights, the tool we have developed to track which social objects resonate with people. Resonance is the flip side of engagement. Something resonates when it drives people to take action. And on Twitter, this means that people actively shared the post with their friends or added it to their favourites list.

So, what did I see?

76insights resonance graph Trudeau Cabinet November 4 2015

Cabinet Tweets on November 4

The thirty Cabinet Ministers collectively published 86 tweets on their first day in office.  Looking at the total day, we can see that the Cabinet members were more or less silent prior to the 10AM swearing in ceremony. The first to break the silence was Patty Hajdu, who tweeted her excitement at 9:18AM.

The real action began with a tweet from @justintrudeau’s account displaying a Periscope of the swearing in ceremony inside Government House.

Once the ice was broken, the tweets came hard and heavy until mid-afternoon, when there was a relative quiet time. Clearly, Trudeau’s Cabinet realized that tweeting from inside the Cabinet meeting room is a no-no. The first to break the Cabinet meeting silence was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s account, which tweeted the dates of the return of Parliament and the Throne Speech.

Following Trudeau’s post, tweets by his Ministers recommenced at a strong pace. There was a two hour silent period from about 7PM until 9PM, which I assume corresponded to a dinner for the new Cabinet Ministers. But once that was over, the tweets pick up again at 9PM continued until midnight. Who can blame the new Cabinet Ministers for celebrating late into the night what may well have been the best days of their life?

All tweets are not created equal

Collectively, the new Cabinet Ministers 86 tweets were shared or favourited over 24,900 times, for an average resonance score of 289.

Anyone who is on Twitter knows that only some of the things we post will actually resonate with other people. In fact, most tweets go unremarked and trigger zero reaction.

The same was true of these tweets. Some of the Cabinet Ministers’ tweets failed to move anyone to active engagement. On the other hand, some were passed around and favourited thousands of times.

Which tweets resonated most?

When it comes to making a mark, this was clearly Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s day. Two of his tweets resonated most strongly. The most shared and favourited tweet of the day, with a resonance score of 8.36K, was this tweet marking the Justin Trudeau’s swearing in as Prime Minister.

The second most resonant tweet, with a resonance score of 3.33K, was the PM’s early evening open letter to Canadians.

But Trudeau isn’t the only member of his government whose tweets resonated with a large number of people. Several of his Ministers posted tweets that struck a chord.

Canada’s new Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan’s tweet earned a resonance score of 1.78K.

A tweet by Canada’s new Minister of Justice & Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, followed close behind, with a resonance score of 1.1K.

A tweet by Navdeep Bains, the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, earned a racked up a resonance score of 826.

Late in the evening, a 10:59PM tweet by new Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna elicited a strong reaction, earning a resonance score of 627.

Finally, Kent Hehr, the new Minister for Veterans Affairs, chalked up a resonance score of 593 with his tweet.

Will they make the most of their potential to engage directly with Canadians?

Obviously, the tweets posted yesterday were more celebratory and thankful than substantive.

However, several of the members of the new Cabinet demonstrated the potential to move large numbers of others to share their messages on twitter. It will be interesting to watch whether they make the most of this potential.

Hangout with Canada’s New Prime Minister


The swearing in of Canada’s new government today marked a passing of the torch to a new generation. It also saw a huge value shift as traditional Liberal priorities such as International Development, Democratic Institutions, and Science were recognized as full Ministries. In a Cabinet that was remarkable as Canada’s first with gender parity – an equal number of men and women as Ministers.

And one of his first actions as Prime Minister? To reach out to Canada’s youth by participating in a Google Hangout with students from across Canada.

In his post-swearing-in statement, Prime Minister Trudeau said,

“We will shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it is meant to serve. Openness and transparency will be our constant companions, and we will work to restore Canadians’ trust in their government and in our democracy. We are committed to the highest ethical standards and applying the utmost care in the handling of public funds.”

Hopefully, this represents the way that the government will again welcome Canadians into their government.


It’s come and gone. And at the end, the new Prime Minister told the students who participated that, “I’m really glad that one of my first actions as prime minister is to reach out to grade school right across the country. Politics is never supposed to just be just a speech politicians give that everyone else listens to. It’s about dialogue and conversation.”

If you’re curious about what Justin Trudeau’s first hour as Prime Minister was like, watch the Hangout below.

Where has “honor in public service” gone?

I started my working career as an aide to politicians. I was proud to be involved in politics and government because I believed that I could make a positive difference.

It’s been a week like few others north of the border in Canada. Thanks to Rob Ford, we’ve garnered an unwelcome share of both national and international media attention. And that’s produced some remarkable moments. And all of them have been passed along through social media.

1. Vulgar Rob Ford

The raw video. Really raw video. You won’t believe the language he uses.

2. CBC’s National coverage of the day

Leading the nightly newscast.
Continue reading…

Pathways to Privacy Research Symposium: Privacy for Everyone

Privacy is an issue that has caught many users of social media and social networks unawares. Heck, it’s probably an active issue for 99% of us, whether we’re aware of it or not.

The challenge of online privacy starts with the terms of reference that we “read” when we’re signing up for a new service. How many of us actually read through the pages of legalese that stand between us and the shiny new service or app that we want to try out? Very few, I’d say.

The problem is compounded by changes to privacy policies we didn’t understand in the first place.

Remember, if you are not paying for a service, then you yourself are probably the product. And some advertiser or other third party is probably paying to access the data you’ve willingly and perhaps unwittingly provided to the shiny new app/service. It’s a case of User Beware.

Thankfully, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner have both taken an active, intelligent interest in online privacy. For several years, they’ve researched issues related to our online privacy and shared their findings and observations in real life events and online. They’ve been effective advocates for our personal privacy even when we’ve given into the temptation to skip reading the privacy notices or not spent enough time considering the issues surrounding privacy. (Few of us do, including me. They are complex and layered. Tougher to get our minds around than the simple joy of “liking” or “friending”.)

So, I’m looking forward to an upcoming event staged by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. On May 2, they are convening a day-long research symposium: Pathways to Privacy: Privacy for Everyone with a top-notch line up of speakers from academe, government, and civil society. Topics and speakers include:

8:30 – 8:50 am Opening Remarks
  • Ms. Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada
  • Ms. Patricia Kosseim, Senior General Counsel and Director General, Legal Services, Policy and Research Branch, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

8:50 – 9:15 amOpening Keynote

9:15 – 10:30 amPanel 1: The Changing Landscape for Youth

10:45 – 12:00 pmPanel 2: Reaching Diverse Populations

1:00 – 1:25 pmAfternoon Keynote

1:25 – 2:45 pmPanel 3: Cultural Perspectives on Privacy

3:00 – 4:20 pmPanel 4: Frontiers of Surveillance and Identification among Different Populations

4:20 – 4:30 pmClosing remarks

I’m planning to attend this symposium. And if I’m able, I’ll record interviews with the speakers who have the most impact and make the greatest contribution to thinking on privacy issues.


Tony Clement at Third Tuesday Ottawa Storify-ed

Canada’s Treasury Board President Tony Clement @tonyclementcpc appeared at Third Tuesday Ottawa #3TYOW last night. He discussed the potential of open government, bringing citizens closer to government and the new guidelines he introduced to guide public servants in their use of social media. He also took and responded to questions from the participants.

I’ve captured the highlights of the event through Storify. Enjoy.

[<a href=”” target=”_blank”>View the story “Tony Clement at Third Tuesday Ottawa” on Storify</a>]

Tony Clement talks about open government at Third Tuesday

Third Tuesday is back with another blockbuster speaker: Canada’s President of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement.

Tony Clement is well-known as a politician who maintains an active Twitter presence, sharing what is on his mind and what he’s doing, and engaging in conversations with Canadians. Anyone who follows Tony Clement knows that his Twitter conversations are sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes combative, but always genuine.

Tony Clement is also the President of the Treasury Board of Canada. That puts him in charge of Canada’s public service and makes him responsible for setting the standards and rules by which social media is being introduced into the Government of Canada.

As a Minister, Clement has pushed forward with initiatives to enable Canada’s public servants to use social media in the workplace and a broader initiative to introduce open government standards to the government of Canada.

In November, Mr. Clement

– unveiled the Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0, the reference document that will be used by Canadian Public Servants in determining whether and how they should use social media in the workplace.

– announced that completed access to information requests now will be posted online.

In December, Clement

– announced the addition of 4,000 data sets to the Open Data Portal.

– initiated a public consultation on Open Government. (The consultation closed in mid-January and the Treasury Board site promises that a final report on the findings will be posted in March 2012.)

– participated in a Twitter Chat on Open Government to give people a chance to raise issues, ask questions and engage with him online.

That’s a lot of action in a short period of time. But, what’s been happening now? How are the Web 2.0 Guidelines being applied by Canadian public servants? What did Canadians tell the Minister during the consultation? What’s on the agenda for 2012?

Third Tuesday participants will get a chance in February to ask these questions and talk directly to the Minister when he appears as our featured guest Third Tuesday Ottawa and Third Tuesday Toronto. Follow these links to find the details and sign up to attend Third Tuesday Ottawa or to attend Third Tuesday Toronto.

If you’re interested in open government and the use of social media by government, this session will be of real interest to you. I’m looking forward to a great evening of discussion with a man who has matched his actions to his convictions. I hope to see you there.


TweetChat with Tony Clement about Open Government in Canada

Tony Clement, Canada’s Treasury Board President and the man in charge of introducing Open Government principles to the Government of Canada, is taking his talk where the online community is – on Twitter. On Thursday, December 15, he’ll be hosting moderated TweetChats in English and French as part of the government’s consultation about Open Government.

TweetChat: Where and When

The English TweetChat will run from 5:00 to 5:45 p.m on December 15. The hashtag for the English session is #opengovchat. Because it is a moderated discussion, the host account will be @TBS_Canada, not @tonyclementcpc. The Minister will be providing answers, but they will be typed by staff members.

A French language chat will be conducted an hour earlier, from 4:00 to 4:45 p.m. EST. The hashtag for the French session is #parlonsgouvert and discussion will be hosted by @SCT_Canada.

Canada’s Open Government initiative

Canada’s Open Government initiative consists of three elements:

  • open data, making data available in machine readable formats
  • open information, proactive disclosure about the work of government; and
  • open dialogue, providing citizens with greater opportunity to have a voice in government decisions. Web 2.0 technologies will be used in this initiative.

The Canadian government has been making steady progress on this initiative throughout 2011. In March, then-Treasury Board Minister Stockwell Day announcedtwelve-month pilot project with the launch of an Open Data portal. In June, the newly re-elected government reaffirmed its intent to proceed with Open Government. On September 19, Foreign Minister John Baird signalled Canada’s intent to join the International Open Government Partnership. On November 16, current Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced that completed access to information requests now will be posted online. Then, a big announcement on November 22: Tony Clement unveiled the Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0, the reference document that will be used by Canadian Public Servants in deciding whether they should or shouldn’t. On December 2, Clement announced the addition of 4,000 data sets to the Open Data Portal.

Now, it’s our turn to have our say

Finally, on December 6, Clement initiated a public consultation on Open Government. The consultation runs from December 6 to January 16. You can see the questions they government is asking and offer your input online. During the consultation, the government is posting what they’ve heard so far. And they have promised a final report in March 2012.

The Minister’s TweetChat this week also is part of the consultation process. I plan to participate. If you care about achieving a more open government, I hope you too will participate.


Interested in diving deeper into gov 2.0 and open government?

Alex Howard writes about Defining Gov 2.0 and Open Government

Australian Senator Kate Lundy’s keynote address The Path to Open Government: The Pillars of Gov 2.0

Jesse Brown interviews Tony Clement about Open Government in Canada.





Springtime for Government 2.0 in Ottawa?

Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been re-elected with a majority government, Canadians can begin to expect him to pursue some longer term objectives.

So, it was a pleasant surprise to read these commitments in the Government’s first post-election Throne Speech:

Canadians rightly expect fairness and accountability in the full range of government institutions that serve them. … Our Government will also support the efforts of the Public Service to modernize the way it works so that it can continue to provide the highest standard of service to Canadians. …. Our Government will also ensure that citizens, the private sector and other partners have improved access to the workings of government through open data, open information and open dialogue.

This is a reaffirmation of the move toward Government 2.0 that was signalled with the launch in March of and At that time, described three initiatives the Government of Canada was taking:

  • Open Data, which is about offering Government data in a more useful format to enable citizens, the private sector and non-government organizations to leverage it in innovative and value-added ways.
  • Open Information, which is about proactively releasing information, including on government activities, to Canadians on an ongoing basis. By proactively making government information available it will be easier to find and more accessible for Canadians.
  • Open Dialogue, which is about giving Canadians a stronger say in Government policies and priorities, and expanding engagement through Web 2.0 technologies hasn’t been updated since it’s launch. The front page still features the March 18 initial release and statement from then-Minister Stockwell Day. However, in light of the Throne Speech reference and New Treasury Board President Tony Clement‘s recent interview endorsing the Open Data initiative, we should start to see updates and news of further initiatives.

I’m going to follow this closely and write about it more often. I hope that you’ll follow along with me and join the discussion.

And if you are interested in this area, you also should subscribe to two other bloggers who are reporting on Canada’s open government initiatives:

John F. Moore, Canada Commits to Open Government in “Speech from the Throne”

Richard Akerman, Open Data Statement in Canadian Digital Economy Strategy Update



Ontario Ombudsman André Marin to speak at Third Tuesday Toronto

André Marin

Ontario Ombudsman André Marin

In my experience, a very few Canadian government officials have really succeeded in using digital media to increase public engagement. André Marin, the Ontario Ombudsman is at the top of that short list. Not only is he personally active on Twitter and Facebook, but he has integrated social media into his offices research and reporting.

The best example of this was his investigation into the conduct of the police during last year’s G 20 meeting in Toronto. When announcing that investigation, the Ombudsman invited Ontarians to submit evidence that had been gathered using social media. During the investigation, he provided updates on his progress via Twitter. In fact, his tweet that he had concluded the research stage was broadly reported by traditional media as if he had granted interviews or issued a news release. And when he released the final report, his press conference was posted on YouTube in a shareable format.

So I’m very pleased that Andre Marin has agreed to be the guest speaker at Third Tuesday Toronto on June 21. That’s the day he’s releasing his annual report, in which he will be announcing his newest focus – promoting open government.

I know the Third Tuesday community is savvy to the potential – and the challenges – of open government. So, I’m looking forward to an evening of  intelligent, probing discussion of this initiative.

Register to attend Third Tuesday with André Marin

You can register online at the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup site to attend this event. A great chance to explore the important topic of open government in Ontario.

Acknowledging Third Tuesday’s sponsors

As always, I want to thank the sponsors of Third Tuesday: CNW GroupRogers Communications, the Canadian Internet Registration AuthorityRadian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Thanks to these sponsors, we are able to program great speakers in cities across Canada, including Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa.