Lizzy May live tweets way into Munk Debate

Green Party leader Elizabeth May says her social media strategy for the Munk Debate, which she was not invited to, works. (Photo: @CanadasGreens, Twitter)

Alex Martino
Senior Reporter

Green Party leader Elizabeth May says the feedback has been “extremely positive” to her live tweeting about Monday’s Munk Debate in Toronto, a debate she was not allowed to participate in.

“I kept trying as hard as I could to inject fuller, more detailed responses so that people would know, had I been on the stage, what would we have been saying,” she told Humber News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

As Conservative leader Stephen Harper, NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau spoke, May took to Twitter to outline her party’s foreign policy.

“The #MunkDebate has started. And @ElizabethMay is excluded, despite over 80% of Canadians wanting her there,” was tweeted by the official Green Party Monday evening.

On Tuesday, May said in a phone interview that social media is changing the way politicians get their message across.

“I think that’s a very positive thing for Canadian democracy where we’re in a situation where we’re excluded by corporate interest, there are other ways to get your message across and that’s really encouraging,” said May.

On Monday, as the questions were delivered to the leaders on the stage at Roy Thomson Hall in downtown Toronto, May tweeted video clips offering the Greens’ policies on all the topics in real time.

In response to Bill C-51, May posted a video clip saying, “As security experts testified to the parliament, creates a disaster waiting to happen in Canada,” while accusing the bill of giving Canadians less freedom and security via Twitter.

May also used the live-tweeting format to offer up direct replies to leaders on stage.

“No, Mr. Mulcair”, May tweeted Monday in response to the NDP leader, “You don’t always say the same thing in both languages. We have tape. It’s 2015, not 1915. #MunkDebate”.

May felt the Greens’ comprehensive platform regarding the Keystone Pipeline was a sorely missed inclusion in the Munk Debate’s proceedings.

“We certainly provided much more detail about the Keystone pipeline… When the Globe and Mail and Munk keep Greens off the stage, they keep a lot of issues that their corporate clientele doesn’t want us to talk about,” said May.

Corporate interest continues to be a talking point May refers to, mentioning it during the debate and beyond, tweeting on the subject and discussing it after the fact.

“The small elite corporate debates with no rules attract a small audience compared to in 2011 when 10 million Canadians watched the national televised leaders debate, so it’s rather in the interest of Canadian democracy that we have debates that attract a large viewing audience. These ones do not do so,” said May.

For Green Party faithful, May’s contributions to the debate, despite not being onstage, were a big win. When a Tweeter asked the Green Party leader why she was not in attendance, May responded saying, “Private, elite, anti-democratic debate. #shameful.”

North Vancouver Green Party candidate Claire Martin stressed the importance of social media in the campaign, particularly the debate.

“Social media is a great vehicle to engage Canadians, both publicly but also in virtual one-on-one scenario. And especially exciting is the engagement we see with the youth. This is the way they talk, discuss events and share ideas,” Martin said in an email interview.

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