CPSA 2016 Annual Conference Programme

Canadian Political Science Association

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May 31 to June 2, 2016
University of Calgary
Calgary, AB


Law and Public Policy


Session: D6(a) - Workshop: Politics and Communication in the Digital Age (V)


Date: Jun 1, 2016 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: Science Theatres 126 | iCal iOS / Outlook



Sponsor: UBC Press series Communication, Strategy and Politics



Chair/Présidente: Andrea Lawlor (King's University College)


Discussant/Commentateur: Vincent Raynauld (Emerson College)


Participants & Authors/Auteurs: (Click titles for Abstract and Paper.)arrow

Alex Marland (Memorial University of Newfoundland), Anna Esselment (University of Waterloo) : Tips and Tactics for Researching Canadian Political Elites in the Digital Media Age


Abstract: In the digital media age, some political elites become more clandestine, while others are more accessible than ever. This paper seeks to establish the best practices for researchers to secure optimal participation by Canadian political elites in quantitative and qualitative studies. Insights are collected via a review of international and Canadian literature; outreach with a variety of political scientists who study Canadian political elites; information gathered from some members of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery; and the authors' own experiences. The paper begins by situating the challenges and opportunities confronting researchers. It then organizes the findings as a series of guiding principles for researchers. We conclude by considering the implications of digital media for the scientific study of Canadian political elites.


Melanee Thomas (University of Calgary), Allison Harell (Université du Québec à Montréal), Tania Gosselin (Université du Québec à Montréal) : Gendered News Coverage of Canadian Premiers, 2010-2015


Abstract: In the past several years, Canada has seen a substantial increase in the number of female-led provincial governments. In this paper, we draw on the literature about gendered news coverage of female politicians to explore the ways in which provincial premiers are covered. In particular, we are interested in the ways in which gendered news frames are used to cover these high profile leaders in a context where the election of female leaders has become more normalized. Drawing on a unique content analysis of provincial premiers across Canadian provinces from 2010-2015, we assess the prominence of masculine and feminine frames based on the sex of the premier. The analysis is based on original gender dictionaries that we analyze using a quantitative content analysis tool, Lexicoder. This paper thus makes several contributions to our understanding of gendered news coverage. First, we provide an important subnational and cross-provincial examination of the issue. Second, we place the analysis within the context of a ‘normalization’ of female-led party victories to assess whether gendered frames are becoming less prevalent, or whether they continue to be the lens through which female politicians are disproportionately covered.


Fenwick McKelvey (Concordia University), Marianne Côté (Concordia University) : Facepalms and Thunderclaps: Online influencers in Canadian politics


Abstract: Did thousands of Canadians take to Twitter to protest Tim Hortons pulling Enbridge’s ad from their store displays or were they protesting the oily advertising? There is a reason for the confusion. Stephen Taylor, former member of the Conservative-affiliated Blogging Tories and now-freelance political operator, skillfully re-framed an anti-Enbridge hashtag #BoycottTims into a pro-oil, social media spectacle. His timely and rapid engagement illustrates the influence of elite partisans in social media. This chapter uses the #BoyCottTims, #TommunistManifesto and other hashtags as case studies to understand the role of quasi-party members like Taylor – what the chapter describes as mobile partisans – and other social media political consultants in shaping the expression and representation of social media as public opinion. It builds on the concept of the assemblage to understand how social media elites help political campaigns stay on message, keep on top of what’s trending and find new supporters in social media.


Julie Croskill-Killin (University of Calgary ), Tamara Small (University of Guelph) : Tweet by Tweet Broadcasting: Local Candidates Use of Twitter During The 2015 Canadian Federal Election


Abstract: This paper considers the personalization of constituency level campaigns in the era of social media. The Canadian voting behaviour literature suggests that parties and leaders are significant determinants of voting preferences compared to local candidates. As such, candidates must decide how to balance their party’s message with the need to create a personalized presence, address local issues and respond to constituent questions. The use of social media has the capacity to change the nature of candidate outreach given the personalized nature of accounts, and the public link to voters. This paper examines the use of Twitter by a sample of local candidates across Canada during the 2015 Federal Election. Do local candidates campaign in ways that are distinct from that of their party's national campaign on Twitter? We explore the extent to which social media is used to promote certain types of campaign communication between candidates and the public and its implication for access to and demands of accountability from candidates.