Elections Canada has abandoned its “influencers” campaign for this upcoming federal election which would feature celebrities encouraging young people and ‘vulnerable’ populations how and why they should vote.
The non-partisan agency responsible for administering the national vote scrapped the idea after final vetting for its choice of 13 “influencers” turned up past activity which could give the perception of inherent biases.
“I did not feel that I had the right assurances that were necessary to protect our reputation as an unimpeachable, neutral and non-partisan agency,” Chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault told the Canadian Press on Thursday.
Olympic athletes Andre De Grasse, Penny Oleksiak and Max Parrot, comedian Katherine Levac, singer-songwriter Alex Nevsky and First Nations activist Ashley Callingbull were among Election Canada’s “influencers” that also featured television personalities, bloggers and YouTubers.
Earlier this month Democratic Insitutions Minister Karina Gould took heat over the idea from Conservative ethics critic Peter Kent who forecasted such an outcome, during a question period debate.
“How can Elections Canada ensure these social media influencers have never had or have had today, political opinions?” Asked the Thornhill MP.
Gould said her government “empowered (the agency) to talk about the importance of voting” especially for “vulnerable populations.”
It’s a refrain that Elections Canada has repeated in communications with The Post Millennial about the “influencers” campaign.
According to their own data, electoral participation in the 2015 federal election saw the highest turnout since 1993, while voter participation among youngest demographic of eligibility (18-25) increased 18.1 percent from the 2011 election.
Elections Canada also recorded a 14 percent spike in on-reserve voting trends for First Nations.
According to the agency, much of the $650,000 for the campaign has gone out the door to produce commercial spots, of which some will be repurposed using voiceover actors.