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Canadians flock to Twitter for the first leaders' debate Tweetup

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This election, Canadians are harnessing the power of social media with the first ever national Tweetup for Democracy. Leadnow.ca and OpenMedia.ca are co-organizing a cross-country Tweetup to bring people together, online and in-person, to share their thoughts on the parties and their platforms during the 2011 Leaders' Debate.

While the cross-country Tweetup takes place, Leadnow.ca and OpenMedia.ca will also host Debate Watch Parties in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. From coast to Canadian coast, citizens will come together online and off to make their voices... er... Tweets heard.

"Politics doesn't have to be a one-way conversation. We want to spark a cross-country dialogue where people can weigh in, in real time, about how the candidates are responding to the issues that matter to them," said Leadnow.ca Executive Director Jamie Biggar. "From poverty to climate change, there are many major issues that are being left out in this election. The Tweetup is a new way for Canadians to talk about the issues that matter to them."

Social media, including applications like Facebook and Twitter, has become an important new avenue for democratic participation. While Canada has recently seen record lows in voter turnout, this so-called "social media election" has seen over 72,000 tweets so far. In fact, Canada boasts one of the world's highest rates of internet and social networking usage, a trend which has contributed to the success of online campaigns, like OpenMedia.ca's successful Vote for the Internet campaign.

Steve Anderson, OpenMedia.ca's Executive Director, added: "This Tweetup, like the Vote for the Internet campaign, is about allowing citizens and candidates to interact on a level playing field during this election, and later when public policy is being formed. The use of the Internet for citizen engagement serves only to reinforce its importance in for a healthy, vibrant democratic society. We hope that the leaders will consider this, and have Tweetup participants in mind as they lay out their platforms this Tuesday."

Canadians can participate in the Tweetup by following these hashtags: #db841, #yourcnda, #elxn41, and #votenet. For more information on the national Tweetup, and to see a livestream of the tweets, visit http://www.leadnow.ca/en/tweetup

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