Politics in 140 or less

Should politicians be Tweeting?


It took less than 140 characters from Liberal MP, Michelle Simson, to get people riled up.

After Simson was frustrated by comments from Dean Del Mastro in the House of Commons, she went to her Twitter page to rant, and even pulled out a fat joke to boot: “In committee this morning. M.P. Del Mastro should grow up (not out).”

Now there’s talk of banning MPs from Twitter, in order to “save politicians from looking like idiots,” fellow MP Charlie Angus was quoted as saying.

For the most part, politicians (or their ghostwriters) tend to post banal, politically-correct tweets, but there have been several cases where a public figure has come off twerpish via Twitter.

Out west, Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer was upset about housing minister Rich Coleman’s legislation that’d allow police to force the homeless into shelters.

Which led to her Tweet, “Thinking about introducing a motion requiring police to pick up Minister Coleman next time in Vancouver and dropping him off at Jenny Craig.”

Yeah, another fat joke.

B.C. MP Ujjal Dosanjh had to apologize for using the microblogging service in the House of Commons in October, saying he was “tweeting about matters that ought not to have been tweeted about” during a parliamentary committee.

Closer to home, Toronto city council tweeps are mostly well behaved. Although Adam Giambrone, Joe Mihevc and David Miller can’t seem to put their Blackberries away during meetings.

Mihevc may have jumped the gun recently when he alluded, “TTC Commissn mtg: approval of Eglinton Light Rail Env Asmnt (yipee) + a fare increase (yuck). We need a better way to fund TTC operating,” before the hikes were approved.

And although mayor Miller usually engages his more than 10,000 followers with updates on city happenings and his love of running, he too has had a few immature partisan pokes.

Once, per request of a follower, Miller snuck a twitpic of one of his staunch critics, Rob Ford, mid-speech, during a meeting. “As requested. Unfortunately, he will not stand still,” read the caption.

More facepalm-worthy tweets can be found south of the border, like Michigan congressman, Pete Hoekstra, revealing that he was in Iraq, despite it being a secret trip.

So maybe MPs shouldn’t be the only ones banned from Twitter? Then again, it’s not like keeping politicians from the social networking site is going to stop them from occasionally being “Grade 9 jocks and cheerleaders.” You are what you tweet.[rssbreak]

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