How do the Conservative leadership candidates' online campaigns stack up?

Last week's awkward campaign video by Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, in the parlance of our times, broke the internet. But how does it compare to the rest of the field? CBC Ottawa asked a digital media strategist to analyze the candidates' online presence.

Kellie Leitch's video has been lampooned, but the rest is mostly middle-of-the-road

Clockwise from top left, federal Conservative leadership candidates Andrew Scheer, Maxime Bernier, Kevin O'Leary and Lisa Raitt. (Codie McLachlan, Paul Chiasson, Andrew Vaughan, Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Last week's campaign video by Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch may have, in the parlance of our times, broken the internet.

But according to Mark Blevis, the awkwardly-staged, much-lampooned video is notable because everything else that's been put online during the campaign is so middle-of-the-road. 

CBC Ottawa's All In A Day asked Blevis, an Ottawa-based digital media strategist, to take a critical look at how the other 13 candidates vying for the party's leadership are presenting themselves online.

"There's a lot of average, really," Blevis said. "[Although] some of them are better than others."

Here are some of Blevis's highlights and lowlights — none of which come close to approaching the memorability of the Leitch video — from six of the other leadership contenders.

The replies have been edited for clarity and length, but you can listen to the full All In A Day interview here.

Erin O'Toole's 'House of Trudeau'

"Most candidates are really hit-and-miss with their videos [but those] really kind of struck a chord. It plays out in a series of text messages between [senior adviser] Gerald Butts and Justin Trudeau, in relating to some of the criticisms you'd expect a Conservative candidate might have of the Liberal Party activities.

"[It's effective because] it takes the pressure off the candidate to perform in front of the camera. As we saw with Kellie Leitch — and many others — their ability to perform on camera is really… hit-and-miss. And maybe hit-and-miss is being generous."

Lisa Raitt's personal introduction

"The Raitt video is not bad. The music undertone, that's supposed to set the musical undercurrent, I feel like it's a little bit overplayed.

"I've seen her speak… and she's excellent. I don't think she needs music bedding. I think she just needs to speak and capture people's imagination. I think most politicians, when they're in their element, they can do that. And they can do it well."

Andrew Scheer's use of Facebook

"Andrew Scheer did a Facebook live video today. They were traveling, I guess from Edmonton to Calgary, and somebody was driving. He was in the passenger seat. And it was compelling and interesting.

"It was a conversation between two people … to watch the video was entertaining and informative, rather than awkward. The angle wasn't particularly flattering, but your angle never is flattering when you're doing your own selfie video. And I think we can all relate to that."

Maxime Bernier's clean look

"If I had to pick one that stood out above the crowd — and I'm not suggesting that this website is head-and-shoulders above everybody — [one that] seems to have the best combination of all the elements, it's Maxime Bernier's. Visually, I think it's well laid out. There's space around things, the links are easy to tap on on your mobile device.

"He's also using a tool called NationBuilder.... it's a website platform, but it also allows you to build a database and a community around your own campaign. So rather than relying on a party tool, you can build your own mailing list, your own database of supporters, you can classify them and categorize them, you can do targeted mailings. It's a fabulous tool."

Kevin O'Leary's fondness for fonts

"They all seem to love fonts. They've limited themselves somewhat to one or two serif fonts and one or two sans serif fonts. But then they use different sizes, [different] weight. Sometimes they use italics, sometimes they don't.

Even Kevin O'Leary … he picks some really slick fonts, and they pop out, but then he blends them with some more classical fonts, which just seem out of place. So it's like maybe trying to appeal to two different audiences. And in that you're just kind of missing the mark a little bit with both."

Deepak Obhrai's retro aesthetics

"It's a very dated look, actually. They've tried to make it a little bit more modern-looking, but it looks like [what] a blog site might have looked like, maybe, in 2008, 2009.

It's clean, but his biggest challenge is, when you scroll a little bit down, he has a very prominent video which – if you click on it, is broken. The link does not exist. You can have a really great site, and you can have holes in your site."


  • In a previous version of this story, there was a screen grab of Deepak Obhrai's official MP website instead of one of his campaign sites.
    Mar 15, 2017 3:43 PM ET