Ontario Election Called...step up and get involved

With the election in Ontario called, it is fascinating to see how conversations now shift to who we want to lead this province into the future. At coffee shops, bar tables, cocktail lounges, athletic clubs, buses, subways, urban or rural trails, on the waterways or a walk in your community - you will no doubt start to muse with family, friends and acquaintances about the unfolding campaign.

Many will choose to comment, remark and complain about the past and the present and stop there. The opportunity, truly, is for people to pick up the phone, or check out a campaign social network and call step up to get involved. Each and every party (links here) whether Progressive Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Green will gladly welcome a new volunteer to their campaign. OR, perhaps you would like to work for Elections Ontario in a roll during the election. They have a site as well.

So this mini "post" is really just to provide you with a quick link to those party web sites so that you might think about how you can engage in this June 12 election. I guarantee you will learn much and more importantly, you will have had an active impact on the decision to elect the next provincial government to lead our province forward.  Cheers @FergDevins

Purpose in Elected Office

With the tragic passing of Hon. Jim Flaherty last week, it caused me to reflect upon what I have seen over the years in the "purpose" of why people run for public office.

One might surmise that, publicly, politics has become a sad state of affairs; amidst some of the "stories" that have evolved in political circles over the past few years. Some would likely suggest that the sad state of politics has been around "forever".

What I am pointing out as purpose, specifically, is that the purpose is to serve the greater community. The purpose is to make a difference for fellow citizens. The purpose is to serve the public. The purpose is to take on the passion to make our world a better place, by being elected to office and holding a role in government where an individual can make a contribution to society.

Does it sound naive ? Does it sound too righteous ? Does it sound impossible ?

I have conversed with many people over the years who have considered running for office. They ask me about the world of politics and elected office. My first question back to them is solely "why...would you want to run for office". To me, with those whom I have spoken to, there is a common thread in "service" to their community. Or perhaps it is to truly make a "difference". Some speak about a compelling need to "give back".

I think that the portrait of community service that Jim Flaherty painted is an example of the real purpose. He served his community. Not everyone would have agreed with this party stance or position on every policy. But, I am hard pressed to find anyone that would dispute that Jim Flaherty served his community with purpose. The tributes over the past couple of weeks ring loudly and so clearly of Jim's passion for making a difference and his commitment to his community.

As I have criss crossed this country in my government affairs work, I have been inspired by many others who have indeed put their name on the ballot with this purpose. They genuinely want to make a difference in their community and for their fellow citizens.

In the memory of Jim I toast those who continue to carry this torch of making a difference, and thank them for their time, effort and sacrifice. We count on that purposeful commitment to community by our elected officials. Service to our community is truly a noble cause, one deserving respect and appreciation. All of the petty politics and nastiness aside, our elected officials are there with a purpose to make a better community for all. Enjoy the long weekend with family and friends in your community. Cheers.

@Ferg Devins

Political Campaigns "Social or Spam"

If you are interested in government affairs like me, you are likely subscribed to many different political party newsletters and social networks with numerous candidates. In government relations, one is quick to realize that we work with the "Government of the Day" and thus it is critical to keep abreast of all party policy development and platforms. It is also really important to build relationships with candidates in anticipation of them some day forming government. Getting to know someone on a personal level is still an important part of building relations. Social networks afford the political parties and candidates with that opportunity.

Political parties have long been known for their "between campaign" email, phone and fundraising efforts. There is a constant flow of direct snail mail and email solicitations and phone polling throughout the year.

That said, I think that many are truly missing the real opportunity that exists for them in "social" media. I find that the majority of emails, tweets or posts from political candidates are one way broadcasts, rather than seizing the opportunity to engage in dialogue. Have you ever responded to the email from the "campaign spokesperson" ? I find that responding usually does not result in any response back. Thus the "campaign spokesperson" is a mass generated one way communication to push a message and not engage in dialogue. It looked personal, they signed it, they wanted you to feel that it was personal...but it was totally impersonal and issued en masse.

How many potential supporters, volunteers or interested voters are sitting out there attempting to respond to this "spam" to no avail ?

I would suggest that Facebook and Twitter are also failing for many political campaigns in a similar regard. A quick scan across many party sites and candidate profiles would suggest that the dialogue is minimal, but the messaging and propaganda is rich and constant. Have you tweeted or commented on a candidate or elected official profile lately ? There are a few that are really great in engaging in dialogue, but the majority are still using the social network as a channel to push their message, not engage in dialogue. It goes back to my provocation that you need a "purpose" for your social network channels and profiles. Don't just have one because someone said you should. It needs to be managed to help you achieve your goals and political or party aspirations.

So...what's my point ?

My point is that I think that social media offers political parties and candidates a wonderful opportunity to actually engage in a conversation with their targeted constituents. Take the time and invest the resource in actually having someone monitoring and following up within these social networks to truly show that you care, that you listen and that you are willing to take action in the interests of the voting public and constituents, rather than just pushing your propaganda out through these social network channels. There are lots of channels for you to "advertise", social media is an opportunity to "socialize".

The result ?  Through engagement and conversation you will build a conversation that will eventually turn to loyalty. Or, the conversation will evolve to a point where you know whether the individual is supportive or not on side. At least at that stage there will be a data point to manage, rather than an assumption that the one way communication is having any impact at all.

If you have some examples of some "pros" at using social media in the political context, let's hear about them here !


Let's Start Shouting out for PANAM 2015

If you are like me, after witnessing and living the Olympic and Paralympic fever over the past month, I am pumped for our athletes and inspired for what PanAmTO2015 can be for our city and the greater Toronto region and Golden Horseshoe. It's time to start shouting out for PanAm2015.

It's time to get beyond the "politics" of the games and leave that to the politicians and their banter. WE as a community and as communities can now embrace the games for what they will be for our youth and for our greater community for years to come. There will be more than 10,000 athletes and supporting team members descend on the Golden Horseshoe in the summer of 2015. That is pretty exciting, to say the least. It is to me, what about you ?

I sat back and thought about what bodies, channels and voices could start to amp up the shout for PanAmTO2015. My list is only a short list. I am sure that upon reading this others will have many more ideas for how we can bring the voice of the games to life with strong emotion and pride for what we will see in this - the largest sporting event ever to be hosted on Canadian soil. Let's join together and start creating the positive voice and legacy that these games will represent.

My list...feel free to add to this...and let's engage with our communities to lend a voice to the games. Together we can start shouting out.

COUNTRIES - there will be 41 countries participating in the games. With Toronto and the region being such a cultural mosaic, one has to believe that each of those countries is represented in Canada by an association, community organization or social club.

SPORTS - there will be 49 different sports taking place at venues across the region. These sports all have organizing bodies, sponsors, supporters and aspiring youth and retired alumni. Let's start talking up these games.

COMMUNITIES - The venues are spread across so many different geographic regions of the GTA. Let's bring this proud moment to life through our community of venues.

EMPLOYEES - All of those who are working for PanAm2015 (300 ?) have a special voice to bring to the games because you are living it day in day out. Bring your experience to life, talk to us about the joy, spread the news about the games and all that it will be

MUNICIPALITIES - Many cities, towns and burbs will be benefitting from various elements of the games whether a venue, athletes, training or random associations. Municipalities and your elected officials and staff...come to the party and speak out.

SUPPLIERS - Although the interest might be "commercial", suppliers to the games are also benefitting and have good reason to thank the games and shout out the benefits that these games are bringing to the region in economic activity leading up to, during and post the big event.

SPONSORS - Every brand, business or individual that has chosen to be a sponsor or partner of the games has a chance to build their brand association and bring voice to the games. With the opportunity to link your brand to the games you have an opportunity to support the passion of the games through your social and traditional media channels. It will be great to see you stepping up and out with your support.

TOURISM BODIES - 10,000 plus participants and how many spectators and visitors will be landing in our region?  Tourism bodies in the Golden Horseshoe have the power to build the experience of the region based on the excellence that these games will portray

PROVINCIAL MINISTRIES - How many provincial ministries are linked to the games in some obvious or behind the scenes role. You too can bring voice and promotion to the games in a powerful way through your social and traditional communications channels.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT - The Federal government has made a significant investmen in the games for PanAm2015. Let's move past the politics of the games and focus on the promotion of this once in a life time event. Let's bring the power and energy of our federal government to light it up in all your social and traditional channels.

ATHLETES - Oh my goodness...the heart of the games, our athletes. YOU are the bright light of these games, the participating athletes who can bring your voice to lighting up the social channels and seeding your stories with the press. Let's get those ambassadors actively engaged in telling their heart tugging stories.

GYM TEACHERS - What can be more exciting that to be a gym or physical education teacher having the opportunity to shine a light on these games for aspiring athletes in our school system whether, public, secondary or post secondary. If you embrace these games, they will be a legacy for our youth in creating passion for participation, motion and active lifestyles.

THE PRESS - Ok...I get that there is a great banter of politics related to the games. BUT, the games are on, the athletes will be arriving, the venues will be built, the village will be full...it's time to look at the games and the sport legacy that can be achieved. Where are those voices that respect that this is a competition at a level that drives futures for summer athletes in the Americas, including our Canadian athletes. When the press come on side we can start to build tremendous voice for these games.

ATTRACTIONS - Visitors mean traffic, traffic means chatter, chatter means great brand building. Attractions across the region can lend a voice in building momentum and interest for visiting delegation and spectators.

VOLUNTEERS - Although the recruitment of volunteers is still to come, let's hear from those that want to get involved, engaged and live the moment of these games. These games will truly be a wonderful experience for anyone that gets involved and our volunteers will help to be ambassadors for the region, our province and our country. Lend your voice...it is an important one.

LABOURERS - Across the region labourers, tradespeople and businesses are benefitting from the games. What a great opportunity to lend your voice on how this is impacting you and your life through the construction and building of the games.

OK...I know I've only covered a few avenues of what I feel are potential "voices for PanAm2015". Perhaps you have more to add. Or just take a few seconds to tweet or post this on Facebook or in Google+ or in your social network and enrol family, friends, neighbours colleagues and your community in what will be a wonderful legacy for our region - PanAm2015.

Cheers to the games...bring your voice to the games today...time to start shouting out! @FergDevins