[twitter]The day the election was announced, Tony Clement, previously known on Twitter as @TonyClement_MP changed his account to @TonyClementCPC. Tony has made a name as one of the most engaged members on the hill and so his adjustment was instant news.
People wanted to know why Tony Clement changed his Twitter handle.
Short answer? Because he had to.
Hansard is very clear on the issue of electronic identities and how a Member of Parliament can use it during a political campaign.
The guidelines are clear about it being OK to carry on with case work but make it clear that you can’t identify yourself as an MP during this time. The same rules apply to electronic communication. So websites, blogs and social networking profiles must be changed and so must email addresses, Twitter accounts and anything else that includes the letters ‘MP’. Websites that are paid for out of public funds or use the term ‘MP’ in the domain name will have to be suspended until after the election. Whether this means closing them down or providing a click through link remains to be seen (I can’t imagine automatic redirection being acceptable).
In a world of following-by-identity, this presents some challenges. A number of MPs have already created new online personas for the duration of the campaign at least and others will have to follow suit. It’s unimaginable to think that party HQs aren’t monitoring the situation closely too (I know at least one has done an audit). Having to abandon an online brand at a time when visibility and public awareness is even more important might just make some politicians reconsider the strategic value of a brand that relies on the term ‘MP’!
So Tony Clement and any other MP using the designation “Member of Parliament” needs to remove it from their online identity. Which begs the question, why can Stephen Harper still use the twitter account @pmharper?
Tony Clement, responding via twitter says the issue is “different because the ministry still exists.” Clement himself is still the Minister of Industry during the Canadian election campaign, just not the Member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka. Harper, while remaining PM, is not an MP.
There you go.