Leader of Manitoba Liberals Hosts “Reddit Ask Me Anything”
In an effort to acquaint himself with Manitoba voters, Dougald Lamont, newly elected leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, opened to himself up to questions from Reddit users. After being live from 9 PM EST to 10 PM EST on Wednesday, he was able to answer questions and follow-up questions from around a dozen commenters.
Some exchanges were serious policy discussions, as Lamont commented in regards to spending on the Churchhill rail line, “It’s really about the long term investment. For hundreds of years, Canada has been the product of investing in communities.”
He continued, “so, the purpose of investing is getting returns that benefit society.”
Others were less policy based, and showed a growing confidence in his team.
One Redditor asked how he planned to unite the party after having won by eight votes, to which Dougall responded, “I won leadership over people of higher calibre than those i’ll [sic] be running against in 2020,” and “unite the party? Done and done!“
Dougald jokingly wrote that in a movie about his life, he would like himself to be played by Meryl Streep because “she can play everyone.“
Although this was his first Ask Me Anything (AMA) as party later, Lamont has held two previous sessions while running for leadership. His first only garnered 13 comments, while the second amassed a total of 50, the same number as Wednesday’s. This could indicate an initial increase as he gained momentum in the leadership race and earned an endorsement from the President of the Manitoba Young Liberals, but current stagnation in relevance.
It should be noted, however that his Instagram account has over 400 followers and his Facebook page has just shy of 600 likes. He also holds a presence on Tumblr, a social media site owned by Yahoo that is home to celebrities from Taylor Swift to John Green.
Lamont’s availability on Reddit is part of a growing trend by contemporary politicians to engage youth through social media. By cultivating their platforms, they’re able to connect with young voters, (and future voters) ensuring themselves electoral success and growing Canada’s next generation of leaders.
This shift is everywhere from Justin Trudeau’s AMA on Snapchat, to Jagmeet Singh’s Instagram with rap star Post Malone, to Andrew Scheer’s Twitter account. The hope is that as politics becomes more accessible to young people through their phones and computers, they will become more informed about political landscapes and become lifetime voters.
As Trent Brownlee, President of the Manitoba Young Liberals shared, “The Manitoba Young Liberals are committed to helping youth in Manitoba gain a stronger connection with political parties by listening to both their ideas and concerns. If you want youth to get involved, they have to feel heard.“
This comes just as Manitoba is nearing the halfway point between its 2016 election and the upcoming vote in 2020. As indicated by the 2015 federal election, turnout by voters aged 18-24 is increasing faster than any other age group. From 2011-2015 there was an increase by over 18 percentage points. Furthermore, voters aged 25-34 increased turnout by over 12 points to 57.4% in those same four years.
Dougald, along with the other party leaders, will be vying for support, and he seems to be taking the first steps.
In his own words, “Does a Reddit AMA count as engaging 25-35 year olds? ; )
“In all seriousness, we have been engaging the public through open houses, my Facebook page, events, etc. How can I engage people like you and your friends?”
While Dougald and the Manitoba Liberals ponder this question, so should the rest of Canada’s political parties.