March 17, 2010
Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed Canadian voters in his first live broadcast on YouTube yesterday, a 40-minute forum where he answered questions ranging from the legalization of marijuana and Quebec sovereignty to troop deployment in Afghanistan and the protection of pensions.
The forum was hosted by Google’s Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Pichette, and more than 5,000 viewers submitted 1,794 questions and cast 169,842 votes. The event provided a platform for people to question the prime minister on the Speech from the Throne address delivered on March 3, 2010. This is equivalent to the State of the Union address in the United States.
This YouTube appearance is in line with Prime Minister Harper’s embrace of social media (he has Facebook and Twitter profiles) and his somewhat more distant approach to traditional media outlets during his term thus far. Upon reaching office in 2006, he selected the journalists who could ask questions in press conferences, a practice that is unusual in Canada. He has also decreased the number of interviews and press conferences with Parliament-accredited journalists and has concentrated on meeting with local media outlets while traveling throughout Canada.