Ballots and ballads: surfing the federal election

John
John Gushue
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Canadians vote Oct. 14 for our next set of parliamentarians, and in the process set the course the country will take for the next few years - or less, depending on the results. Here are some links for getting your political fix.

Elections Canada

www.elections.ca/home.asp

No pizzazz from Canada's elections office, but what did you expect? You will find, though, what you need to know: the rules, the tools, and the help you need to make sure you can exercise your franchise. If you're not sure you're on the list, now's the time to get going.

Surf's up - Canadians vote Oct. 14 for our next set of parliamentarians, and in the process set the course the country will take for the next few years - or less, depending on the results. Here are some links for getting your political fix.

Elections Canada

www.elections.ca/home.asp

No pizzazz from Canada's elections office, but what did you expect? You will find, though, what you need to know: the rules, the tools, and the help you need to make sure you can exercise your franchise. If you're not sure you're on the list, now's the time to get going.

Nodice.ca: Federal Election

www.nodice.ca/elections/canada/index.php

Nodice.ca is a great clearinghouse of political information on Canada, and it's following the federal election closely. Look for information on the latest polls (which is handy, given the curious differences that simultaneous surveys have found), the candidates and the parties.

Nik on the Numbers

www.nikonthenumbers.com/

Pollster Nik Nanos is required reading among many, many Canadian politicos and journalists. Find out why.

Not a Leader

www.notaleader.ca

Scandalpedia

www.scandalpedia.ca/Home_en.html

The parties, of course, have their websites; I'm sure you're smart enough to look them up on your own. These are two examples of what I've found lacking about how the parties have been working online. Not A Leader is part of the Conservative strategy of picking apart Liberal Leader StÉphane Dion's qualities; it will be remembered long after the election for a since-unplugged animation in which a still-seen puffin craps over Dion. Sure, it's a chuckle; it's just like being back in junior high. But I found it disappointing that I couldn't load some of the advertised features, including one intended to solicit Dion "ads" from the public.

That's nothing, though, compared to how irritating Scandalpedia is.

The Liberals launched this to underscore ethical lapses, etc., with the Tories, which is a routine campaign strategy. However, it makes no sense that they chose to drape their material with a Wikipedia-like template.

The catch: there's nothing remotely wiki about this; all of the content, every letter, is written and approved by the party. You actually want to add or change something?

Your one option is an e-mail address. Yech.

I can imagine the Liberals were nervous about an open-ended platform, but weren't they at least confident that their numbers could keep on top of it?

And wouldn't it have been hilarious if a Stephen Colbert-like fight (the pseudo-pundit has yanked Wikipedia's chain more than once) actually broke out?

Anything But Conservative.ca

www.anythingbutconservative.ca/

Anything But Conservative.com

www.anythingbutconservative.com/

As promised, Premier Danny Williams revved up his ABC campaign when the writ was dropped. A companion website launched soon after.

Around that time, we in the newsroom learned there was something very similar: the same title, but with a "dot-com" ending on the address. The other site, launched by Nova Scotian Richard Levangie, takes on Stephen Harper et al., via environmental arguments.

Getting to the Gate

www.gettingtothegate.com/

It may be a bit late for the current election, but Getting to the Gate aims to bring up the numbers of women in politics. It offers an online course (it's free, but requires registration) on how to move into the political sphere.

The major news agencies are committing, as always, significant resources to covering the election. Here are how four of the majors are doing.

The Star

www.thestar.com/election

CTV

www.ctv.ca/mini/election2008/

Globe and Mail

www.theglobeandmail.com/politics

CBC

www.cbc.ca/canadavotes

Between them you'll find news, interactives, polling data, analysis and, sometimes, some fun stuff. As a point of disclosure, I write for CBC (I edit the regional website) and contribute to its election coverage.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: Elections Canada, CBC, The Star Globe and Mail

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's

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