When we talk about civic engagement I think there's an incredible amount of skepticism in the media about the lack of initiative on the part of Canadian voters when it comes to important political issues. So when Christopher White, graduate student at the University of Alberta posts a Facebook protest about the prorogue and scores over 80 000 members (and climbing!) it stands out. It gives us hope that maybe there's an undercurrent of voter initiative that has not been tapped, and that social networking and other forms of online petition MIGHT be a portal for a healthier form of democracy than we have right now. Particularly one that harnesses the enthusiasm of younger voters. But here's the catch. How deep can that mouse click go?
And are these Facebook pages being orchestrated in such a way that they send a message that provokes accountability among our elected leaders? That's the debate. Are protest pages on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter a legitimate expression of dissent...capable of promoting political or social change? Or is the casual click yet another sign of voter laziness or apathy, particularly among younger voters? Your turn. What side of this virtual fence do you sit on? We want to know! And, let us know what you think of the proroguing, too.
- Richard Goddard, producer of Q's Facebook protest debate