PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND VOTES 2007

Features

Virtual Vote - Post No. 1

CBC Online News | Updated May 8, 2007

Barbara Taylor
Barbara Taylor

This week, I thought I'd set the scene by telling you just a little bit of what's out there. I'll start with the high road, and move downward from there.

First, let's look at the official party websites and blogs.

All four political parties on P.E.I. have official websites where they post their policies and schedules. The Liberal and Progressive Conservative party websites are pretty high tech, with all kinds of bells and whistles. Links are provided to YouTube videos of commercials and campaign speeches and the like, so political junkies can be plugged in to every development.

The main party web sites have features such as video links.
The main party web sites have
features such as video links.

Both Premier Pat Binns and Liberal Leader Robert Ghiz have committed to maintaining a blog during this campaign, where they allegedly write their daily thoughts about how the campaign is going.

Ghiz hasn't made any blog posts as yet, and that could be a good thing, if Binns's daily blogging is any measure. I can't imagine many Islanders are going to be adding it to their daily must-reads, with the exception of his mother, perhaps, or those suffering from insomnia.

Here's part of a post from the first day of his campaign: "Fellow Islanders, today is a historic day for Prince Edward Island. I am excited that our province is charging full-speed ahead to a bright future of growth, opportunities and economic prosperity."

Of course, the mere existence of a Binns blog must be lauded. This is the same man who, just weeks ago, said he didn't understand computers and had only a vague knowledge of what Wikipedia was. (That was when several people were busily sabotaging his Wikipedia page to make their own political points, before Wikipedia stepped in and shut them down).

It appears the premier has really gotten internet savvy in the past month, because now he has his own page on Facebook.

Yes, Facebook. That's the social networking site that started for university students in the United States and has since grown wildly. It was meant for hip youngsters, but on P.E.I. at least, it seems to have been adopted by middle-aged politicians and CBC employees.

The NDP and Green Party web sites are lower tech.
The NDP and Green Party web
sites are lower tech.

If you haven't encountered Facebook yet, here's how it works. When you join Facebook you create a page with your personal information and co-ordinates, and then you make "friends" with other Facebook users.

You have to send a request to be someone's friend, and they have to accept, but once you're friends they can see everything on your page, and the pages of your friends, and you can see everything on their page and the pages of their friends, and then they can go through your friends to make new friends, and so on.

Ontario has blocked Facebook from its government workers, but on P.E.I., it seems, many politicians are mucking around on Facebook.

All four party leaders have their own Facebook page, and so does Larry McGuire, the former Liberal who's now running as an Independent in Morell-Mermaid.

And they are all my friends now on Facebook, which is how I can tell you how many friends they have. This could be considered like a public opinion poll, with an accuracy rate similar to polling everyone in a single Charlottetown bar.

So who has the most friends?

Pat Binns.

Well at least he did as of 8:30 Friday morning, but these things can change rapidly, and I can't be spending my workday monitoring Facebook.

So as of 8:30 Friday morning, Binns had 537 friends. One of whom was me, of course. Ghiz had 234 friends (I should point out that Binns and Ghiz are friends with each other on Facebook). NDP Leader Dean Constable had 102 friends. Green party Leader Sharon Labchuk had 46 friends. Larry McGuire had 179 friends.

I had 39 friends. Five of whom are politicians.

Now, while Binns may be winning the friends race on Facebook, he's not necessarily winning the friends race out there in the Wild West of cyberspace, the chat sites. That's where people don't have to use their real names and therefore can say what they really think.

One popular chat forum on P.E.I. called PEIINFO.com has a whole page devoted to political topics, such as "Tories' first broken promise: 25 doctors" and "attack ads." People post their opinions and thoughts, and it can get pretty heated.

This is the place where Binns has been given the nickname Polar Pat and Mitch Murphy has earned the moniker MasterCard Mitch.

Currently there's a poll about who will win the election: Monday morning it was 64 per cent for the Tories and 35 per cent for the Liberals. This voting works kind of like American Idol. The political operative with the patience to vote the most times will come out the winner. With only 48 votes cast, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of patience from anyone for this one yet.

PEIInfo is always entertaining, and it is also generally a well-run and pretty civilized forum, where Islanders can get a good idea of which way the wind's blowing, something that can't always be said for a place that's become a new hot bed of political mudslinging — the Charlottetown Guardian.

The Guardian website gives readers an opportunity to comment anonymously on every story it publishes. The site has become a battlefield between anonymous Liberals and Tories (presumably), posting with names like Bill Clinton or Tom Cruise or Tired of Paying High Taxes or Go Liberal From Charlottetown, or even that old standby, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous.

Some of the stories posted on the website attract more than 100 responses. And though the comments usually start out civilly enough, they quickly deteriorate into insults and slagging matches. The Guardian seems to manage to get most of the libellous comments removed quickly, but often it's not pretty. It is entertaining, however, in the manner of a train wreck.

However, that site is downright civil compared with the real gutter out there — the blogs.

These are the blogs of Island political watchers, some anonymous, some not. Some of the opinions are outrageous, paranoid, libellous and addictively readable.

The P.E.I. Political Home Page is heavy on caps and exclamation marks.
The P.E.I. Political Home Page is
heavy on caps and exclamation marks.

One of the most popular blogs out there is also one of the most outrageous. It's called P.E.I. Political Homepage and the site's motto is "P.E.I. Liberals: A party run by a few for the benefit of a few!"

Another blogger, Rob Lantz, may have described this blog best on his own blog, Freelantz dot ca.

"This blog, which is run by an apparently disgruntled Liberal, or a Tory cleverly disguised as a disgruntled Liberal, or a clever Liberal disguised as a disgruntled Liberal who is obviously a Tory trying to make the Liberals look bad (although, I've heard from a credible Liberal source it's actually the former)."

Whoever it is, it gets a lot of traffic. Here's a little sampling under the heading: Many reasons NOT TO TRUST GHIZ!

"This will be a DIRTY CAMPAGIN because Ghiz and MacAulay's are DESPERATE FOR POWER AND WILL ATTEMPT TO MAKE PAT BINNS LOOK BAD!

"Today we will look at ROBERT GHIZ'S CRITICISM OF THE USE OF CREIDT CARDS BY MITCH MURPHY (AN ETHICAL PERSON) WHILE IGNORING THE FACT HE SPENT TAXPAYER MONEY LIKE A DRUNKEN SAILOR WHILE HE WAS IN THE PMO AND TRYING TO SET THINGS UP HERE ON PEI!"

If you enjoy reading all caps, this site is for you. Original capitalization (and typos) repeated for your enjoyment.

The P.E.I. Political Homepage has his (or her) own nemesis, another popular blog called Satisfied Liberals written by, as the name says, a satisfied Liberal.

This blog is written by Michelle Johnston, who has run for a Liberal nomination in the past. She spends a lot of time on her blog sniping at the P.E.I. Political Homepage writer, and the P.E.I. Political Homepage writer spends a lot of time sniping back. Those of us clicking in lap it up like the true Island gossips we are.

That's just a quick overview. I've only begun to scratch the surface, but right now I've got a Facebook page to check and friends to make.

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Related

External links

Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I.
Liberal Party of P.E.I.
NDP Party of P.E.I.
Green Party of P.E.I.
Facebook
The Guardian
PEI Chat
Rob Lantz
PEI Political Homepage
Satisfied Liberal

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