They still have election brochures and lawn signs. But no political party would dream of running a campaign without a Web site and e-mail. And two Islanders are helping practise a new kind of politicking the blog. You won�t find a definition in the latest Oxford Dictionary, but there is one on Webopedia.com.
Will Pate, 21, and Rob Paterson, 53, are the personalities behind Election Watch. They claim it's Canada's first weblog dedicated to a provincial election.
The Election Watch website came to life just as the election was called, and since has been a forum for people with an opinion and a connection to the Internet to participate in discussions about the policies and the personalities involved in the campaign.
People can read the posts on the page, and respond. It is an unedited exchange of ideas and political philosophies.
"Like a first visit to a coffee shop, you enter a weblog
for the first time to hear people talking about a topic that they
like," explains Patterson. "After a while of overhearing,
you move over to their table and listen more carefully. Then maybe
you make a comment or two. After a while this becomes your table
The Election Watch site also offers video and audio clips, editorial material from the owners, and plenty of opinions. The website is seeing 2,000 visitors a week, mostly young voters.
"If you talk to voters, Will's age. They'll tell you they can't get connected to the political process," says Patterson. "They're not going to go to a strawberry social and they don't hear the issues they're interested in being discussed in political circles."
"When I say to my friends or other people my age, �Let's get on the weblog and talk about this,� they know exactly what I mean," adds Pate. "They know exactly where to go. They know exactly what to do.
"Initially, obviously, it will be people who are comfortable with the technology. It isn't necessarily an age issue it's more attitudinal."
Jean Tingley, the Liberal's candidate in Park Corner-Oyster Bed, is a rookie candidate, and the only one in this campaign to be running her own blog. It started as a way for her children to keep track of her first run for elected office. It's become much more.
And as bloggers will tell you, once you start adding content to your website, people want more.
"It's a commitment; it's a large commitment,” Tingley says. “Once you start, people are looking for it. Somebody called me one day and said, ‘There's no entry.’ I said, 'It's Sunday. I need a day off.' But they look for it every day."
Tingley spares her visitors from the usual political rhetoric, or at least tempers it with very personal observations and the type of comments you won’t be hearing as a candidate stands on your doorstep with a campaign brochure and request for your support.
"These are things that make you look human. You are human when you do that. And it's so different from the kind of spin you get from politicians when they're just speaking to a journalist," says Patterson.
It is a new way to communicate. And in the election campaign all of the parties are attempting to connect with some sort of online diary. However, Tingley's blog is personal, not filtered by the party or ghost written by campaign workers. The time stamps a marking attached to each entry noting the day and time it was entered into the page range from early morning to late evening.
Patterson believes the level of intimacy for some politicians would make blogging a true test of character.
"They're not used to communicating in writing in a personal way. They're used to communicating personally, in a personal way. They'll be prepared at the doorstep to face wild dogs, irate voters. They're good at that. And my advice, and Will's advice, is to bring the doorstep to your weblog."
"It would be pretty tough to log myself," says Pat Binns of the decision to have the weblog portion of www.patbinns.ca ghost written by workers. "Some people on my campaign keep an eye on what's happening every day, they know where I am and what I'm doing. They'll check it with me and I'll say, "Yeah, yeah. Go ahead."
If you think this is just a fringe phenomenon think again.
Howard Dean, the democratic presidential candidate in the United States, has a weblog that is causing fellow politicians and the media to take note. He used the Internet to assemble 100,000 campaign workers and raise millions of dollars in donations. It also secured his nomination for president.
Paul Martin, likely the next prime minister, also has a blog on his website.
Paterson compares the potential impact of blogging to that of the first televised debate between leaders in a North American election campaign that of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960.
Tingley, who still meets her driver early in the morning, and visits dozens of doorsteps everyday, says keeping a blog will be something most every politician will have on their to-do list next election.
"I would almost guarantee everyone will have one next campaign. When we set up our campaign offices, we had to have email. You couldn't begin an office without e-mail. This will be the next step."
Bloggers such as Patterson are also quick to point out that this
new political revolution is being embraced on Prince Edward Island
… the birthplace of Canada.