Oct. 6 - Anyone But Harper
Amber MacArthur, New Media Specialist, CP24
Published Wednesday, October 8, 2008 2:52PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 9:12PM EDT
Over the weekend I did an email interview with Mark Kuznicki, one of the new media professionals behind AnyoneButHarper.ca. Take a look at what he had to say about the new site.
1. How long has the site been online?
AnyoneButHarper.ca launched two weeks ago on Sept. 22nd. Since launch, we've had 24,000 pageviews, our videos have been viewed tens of thousands of times on Vimeo, Blip.tv and YouTube and our strategic voting widget has been installed on over 500 websites. We're happy with these initial results, but in the remaining days of the election campaign, our reach will depend upon Canadians who join us and share our content with their friends and colleagues.
2. Who is behind the site?
One hundred and thirty five new media professionals from across Canada organized themselves on Facebook, met face-to-face in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and came together around a strategic campaign against a continuation of the Harper government. Within a period of days, we were organized and taking action. People like Ana Serrano, McLean Mashingadze-Greaves, Annie Spencer, Patrick Keenan and many other volunteers contributed to the strategy, tools and content.
3. What is the goal of the site?
The goal of AnyoneButHarper.ca is to connect the progressive mainstream of Canada - the 64 per cent majority of Canadians who do not want to see another Harper Conservative government - and invite them to be part of a united campaign against Harper. That means sharing viral media and helping progressives to vote strategically in their local ridings by using our strategic voting widget.
4. How do you think social media, like the site's suggested use of networks such as Digg and Facebook, can help to sway voters?
The web has always been an important battleground for ideas. Social tools have made it much easier for people to have important conversations about issues, values and the future of our politics. Facebook is very powerful and enables public discourse and social movements. Digg users and bloggers can be highly influential. Traditional media are paying increasing attention to these movements and media, who multiply the potential reach of their ideas to all Canadians. The new social web tools accelerate the propagation of ideas throughout our society.
In our case, the idea we're spreading is that progressive Canadians need to unite against the Harper Conservatives. That idea is spreading quickly, growing and being recognized as a source of movement among the electorate this election. AnyoneButHarper.ca is just one expression of a huge movement that includes 64% of Canadians. We are the voters.
5. There is a photo of Senator Barack Obama on the "Get Involved" page of this site. What is the correlation?
That's a cheeky idea of mine, taking the famous Shepard Fairey "HOPE" Obama poster and remixing it for AnyoneButHarper.ca. It's an example of the kind of viral media that our group is looking to our community contributors to create and share.
My passion for this project comes from watching the emergence of Obama, the smarts of the Obama web campaign and my personal disappointment with our party leaders in Canada. Obama has brilliantly harnessed social movements that already existed and were organizing on the web and has enabled them to be part of his campaign in very real and compelling ways. The Shepard Fairey "HOPE" poster crystallized this idea - that a leader can become the physical embodiment of a movement and that a movement can change the world.
I think progressive Canadians are still looking for their Obama.
6. The Internet is ripe with US election news. What is it going to take to get Canadians involved in Canadian political news online?
I think that many Canadians are rightly interested in what's going on the the US election. The result will affect the entire world and will affect our lives in myriad ways. It's also dramatic and noisy. We are trying to point out that the same themes and issues that dominate the US election are present in the Canadian election.
Canadians have a fundamental choice to make between two primary ideologies and points of view. On one hand there is a neo-conservative ideology of economic deregulation, dangerous foreign policy, climate change denial and the cynical exploitation of culture wedge issues. On the other hand, progressives share a set of ideas that say that environmental stewardship, multilateral approaches to foreign policy, smart global economic institutions, human rights and cultural and scientific innovation are critical to saving the future.
The great thing about online media, is that people can engage deeply in these questions in ways that are relevant to them. Canada's political blogosphere is alive and thriving. But we know that there is a missing role of the larger movements and online properties that focus on Canadian politics - we need the Canadian equivalent of MoveOn.org and the HuffingtonPost. I expect we will see those emerge from this election.
7. Has anyone from Harper's campaign acknowledged AnyoneButHarper.ca?
Well, we get lots and lots of nasty comments from Harper supporters on the website and the YouTube channel, if that's any indication. Our viral videos get under their skin, I think. They don't seem to get the fact that we're not trying to convert die-hard conservatives against their party leader - we're not really speaking to them. We're talking to the progressive majority of Canada to give them tools and information to make the most of their votes and their voices this election.
8. The Federal election is getting really close. Can a site like this make a difference in that short amount of time?
I would have loved to have a U.S.-style election cycle to build upon what we've started in two weeks. Harper's conservatives went against their own fixed election date law to drop this election on us when Canadians didn't want it, and now we're scrambling. They did this because they know that six months from now, Canada's economy is going to be in a perhaps deep recession and would have been more vulnerable than they are today.
We believe that viral ideas and media - videos and our strategic voting widget - are well-suited to influencing this election in a very short period of time. It depends on Canadians to help us by sharing this content and these ideas with their friends and colleagues. We'll have to see on election day if we have been successful.
9. What happens to this site after the election?
The organizers believe that AnyoneButHarper.ca and this election is just the beginning, that we're part of a much larger and longer-term neoprogressive movement that is emerging online. We are asking our supporters and community members to sign up to our email newsletter so we can stay in touch after this election and work together to build a new progressive majority in Canada.
10. What's your advice to Canadians who don't vote?
Not voting is like saying "nothing matters," "I can't affect the world we live in" or that "things are just fine, thanks." I refuse to believe that Canadians believe these things. Apathy and non-participation leads to more of the same, and more of the same is leading us to a very scary and more dangerous world.
The choices are very stark this election between two sets of ideas. Canada, and the rest of the world, is at a critical point in our history. We are sharing what will probably be seen as the most dramatic and important moment of our lifetimes. All of us need to stand up and be part of building the future we want for ourselves and the world we're going to share with each other. Step one of co-creating the future is the decision to vote.