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Elections Canada wasted nearly half a million dollars on influencer campaign

2019 was supposed to be the year young Canadians finally got out and voted.

Elections Canada thought it had the perfect strategy: Influencers. Because if our futures weren’t enough #inspo, surely a few nice words from Penny Oleksiak will get us to the polls.

Did it work? We’ll never know because it didn’t happen. The campaign was scrapped after some or all of the influencers “revealed past activities that could be perceived as partisan in nature.” Evidence includes a 2015 Instagram post in which one of the influencers tagged a photo of Justin Trudeau with #mancrushfriday.

Being bipartisan is literally all they had to do. The other prerequisites were: voter eligibility, social media reach, and availability. The initiative was destined for failure, of course, seeing as one’s choice of cereal is a partisan issue these days.

Elections Canada committed $650,000 to the project. Despite it never taking place, the failed influencer experiment nevertheless cost $430,000. The majority of that money was given to the influencers for appearing in a video that, once again, never saw the light of day.

Among those who participated were Olympic athletes Andre De Grasse, Penny Oleksiak, and Max Parrot; YouTubers Mitch Hughes, Elle Mills and Lilly Singh; comedian Katherine Levac; TV hosts Maripier Morin, and Nicolas Ouellet; singer-songwriter Alex Nevsky; blogger Thanh Phung; actor and First Nations activist Ashley Callingbull; and Maayan Ziv, a photographer and activist for disability issues.

Canada really could have used them. In the last federal election, 17.9 million people cast a ballot out of 27.1 million eligible voters.

Christian Nathler

Christian Nathler is a contributing writer at Notable Life.