The power of social media

Metchosin rally organizers knew going in that Prime Minister Harper wouldn’t be in town

Social media can be a powerful tool. Ask anyone running for public office.

The recent protest rally in Metchosin, the one at which many of the 150-odd people in attendance truly believed Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be in the area that day for a Conservative Party fundraiser, saw its numbers soar primarily through the promotion on Facebook of what local party workers say was a rumour-based invitation.

Teresa Sullivan, campaign manager for Conservative candidate Shari Lukens in the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding, was notified by a fellow party supporter a couple of days before the event of the presence of a Facebook event invite page, announcing that Harper would be in Metchosin for a private fundraiser. She found it curious that she and the source had heard nothing about the PM coming to town.

“I was surprised, first and foremost, then I got concerned that people might be looking to crash the fundraiser,” she said.

Sullivan confirmed that the fundraiser, a joint event for Lukens’ riding and the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding, did in fact happen on Oct. 3. She stressed, however, that “the prime minister doesn’t attend fundraising events” and added the that the prime minister’s public events are announced via media advisory.

Metchosin resident Wendy Mitchell, one of the organizers of the event, said word came down from “a reliable source” the week before that Harper was “going to be flying in for a very quiet Conservative fundraiser” at a private residence in the district.

By the Friday (Oct. 2), it was clear that the PM would not be attending the event, but organizers didn’t want to stop a respectful gathering of like-minded people, Mitchell said.

“The whole thing took on its own legs,” she said, adding of her group, that “we all knew that we were not going to see anyone, at least not on the ground here.”

Based on the fact many people already knew Harper would not be in Metchosin that day, Sullivan said the Gazette’s headline, “Prime minister no-show for his own party,” was erroneous.

“Everybody has a right to peaceful protest,” she said, “but this was not about the protesters. It was respectful freedom of expression.”

But as Gazette reporter Katherine Engqvist and Mitchell both discovered, a number of people, many of whom came from up-Island, were still fully expecting the prime minister to be in Metchosin that day.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Pacific FC signs 24-year-old defensive midfielder from Panama

González joins the roster following the team’s 2-2 tie game against York9 FC.

Pacific FC game ends with tie against York9 on Saturday

PFC’s defender scored an own goal off a deflection, putting the game at 2-2

Mighty Garage Sale offers boost to Metchosin groups

Metchosin Community Association holds annual sale on May 25 and 26

Victoria police investigate dumpster fire in gated alleyway

VicPD and Victoria Fire Department respond to fire on Johnson Street

Famed Syrian artist displays paintings created while living in refugee camps

Farid Abdulbaki’s ‘Between Two Worlds’ exhibit will be displayed May 24-26 in Victoria

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Most Read