Year on Twitter: Canadian Politics in 2018

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

2018 was a year of conversation, controversy and change in Canadian politics.

For the fourth year in the row, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) was the most-mentioned Canadian politician on Twitter. In June 2018, Trudeau also became the first Canadian politician to reach the 4 million follower mark.

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#cdnpoli was the second most-mentioned Canadian hashtag on Twitter in 2018 (behind only #BellLetsTalk) and was central to Canada’s political conversation on the platform.

Here are the three dates in 2018 that generated the most single-day mentions of #cdnpoli on Twitter:

  1. May 29, 2018: @JustinTrudeau announces the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
  2. March 23, 2018: Trans Mountain pipeline protests in British Columbia
  3. August 23, 2018: Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) announces he’s leaving the Conservative Party of Canada (@CPC_HQ)

Conversations about the leaders of the two largest parties often included other political luminaries. Trudeau was often tagged with U.S. President Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump), especially during the 2018 G7 Summit (#G7) in Charlevoix, Quebec.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) continues to be mentioned alongside Bernier or former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (@StephenHarper).

Key Topic and Trends

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Some of the biggest political #cdnpoli conversations on Twitter in 2018 included:

  • The economy (#NAFTA, #Budget2018)
  • Remembrance Day (#CanadaRemembers)
  • The Ontario Election (#OntarioVotes, #BuckABeer)
  • Women’s rights (#InternationalWomensDay, #DayOfTheGirl)
  • The legalization of cannabis (#Cannabis, #LegalizationDay)

Conversations on Twitter werealso a unique predictor of Canadian political activity in 2018. A good example of this was the November 13th plebiscite in Calgary over a potential 2026 Winter Olympics bid (#Calgary2026).  

The bid had received a lot of mainstream media support and attention but conversation on Twitter told another story. Between November 1-12, there were more than twice as many Tweets using the #NoCalgary2026 hashtag compared to the #YesCalgary2026 hashtag, foreshadowing the eventual voting down of the potential bid by Calgary residents.

Key Politicians and Personalities  

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These were the sitting politicians with the most Twitter mentions in 2018:

  1. Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau)
  2. Doug Ford (@fordnation)
  3. Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer)
  4. Catherine McKenna (@cathmckenna)
  5. Jason Kenney (@jkenney)
  6. Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier)
  7. Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne)
  8. Michelle Rempel (@MchelleRempel)
  9. Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland)
  10. Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath)

With many elections across the nation, 2018 was also a year of transition. We saw five new premiers assume office, as well as municipal and mayoral races featuring some of Canada’s most-followed politicians, resulting in political drama at home and beyond.

If you extended this ranking to all Canadian politicians who held office in 2018, a Top 20 most-mentioned list would also include former Quebec premier Philippe Couillard (@phcouillard) and former Toronto city councillor Norm Kelly (@norm).

Here are three other insights that helped shape the story of Canadian politics on Twitter in 2018:

  1. Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownont) had an eventful 2018. In January 2018, he resigned as leader of the Ontario PC Party (@OntarioPCParty). Over the course of the year, he wrote a book (Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown) and was elected mayor of Brampton, Ontario. Brown was Canada’s second most-mentioned sitting mayor on Twitter in 2018 and 15th most-mentioned sitting politician.
  2. The October 1, 2018 general election in Quebec, won by François Legault (@francoislegault), set a unique Twitter record. It was the first provincial election in Canadian history to feature three different candidates with 100,000 Twitter followers each: Legault, incumbent Philippe Couillard (@phcouillard) and Jean-François Lisée (@JFLisee).
  3. New Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart (@KennedyStewart) was elected on October 20, 2018 and was Canada’s fifth most-mentioned sitting mayor on Twitter for the year. He was also the 4th most-mentioned British Columbia-based politician on Twitter in 2018 behind Premier John Horgan (@jjhorgan), Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay) and Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan (@HarjitSajjan).


NOTE: All data insights contained in this blog are based on Twitter data collected between January 1, 2018 and November 30, 2018.


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