parties@canada: The Internet and the 2004 Cyber-Campaign
Tamara A. Small
Department of Political Studies
The Internet has been described as the most revolutionary technology since the printing press. Accordingly, there has been much speculation whether the Internet will change politics. In Canada, political parties have been using the World Wide Web for campaigning since the 1997 election. The use of the Web was described as very much in its infancy. By the 2000 election, the Web sites of the major political parties were described as lacklustre and lacking political utility. If the 1997 cyber-campaign was in its infancy and the 2000 cyber-campaign was lacklustre, what would the 2004 cyber-campaign be?
By examining the Web sites of five Canadian parties, this paper examines the 2004 cyber-campaign: How did Canadian political parties present themselves online? To what extent did the parties take advantage of the Internet’s unique features for campaigning? It is argued that Canadian political parties have moved far beyond the lacklustre performance of previous elections. Advances have been made in reaching out to Canadians using campaign Web sites. Further, parties have made much better use of the unique characteristics of the technology. The 2004 cyber-campaign witnessed a definite progression in the use of the Internet by Canadian parties.