Canada's Howard Dean?

Not quite so angry, and not quite so left-leaning (to put it mildly), but Belinda Strong (correction: Stronach --jb) has shown an understanding of the Internet and of blogs that closely resembles that of American presidential candidate Howard Dean. I knew something was up when I heard a progressive environmentalist technogeek give Belinda her due for the design and quality of her website (which you can see here).

It is a well-done site. It loads quickly and it's up to date. The blog is updated regularly (she certainly puts Paul Martin to shame) and is personally written. I have my doubts whether Belinda herself is doing the writing (Howard Dean's blog makes no such pretentions), but it's a personal approach that many voters leaning her way will appreciate.

Her choice of colour combinations is odd (and somewhat Martha Stewart-y), but it works, clashing just enough to make things look interesting.

Compare her site to that of the other Conservative leadership candidates. Stephen Harper has more conservative colour combinations (the Alliance's soothing blue and green; they've had the best political colours since the late 1980s) but doesn't have the personal edge. As for Tony Clement, it's hard to find his official website. Is it here or is it here? If the latter, the site looks a little unprofessional, with a blinding blue interface and a cluttered layout (a surprise, since the site that hosts it has a decent blog). If it's the former, it's very thin, with PDFs and Word files (!) providing most of the content.

Belinda's campaign workers may have even borrowed another page from Howard Dean's playbook, using the Internet to organize a "meetup" of her supporters. No such direct organization from Mr. Harper or Mr. Clement.

I'd written off Belinda from the campaign because of her youth, her inexperience, and her connection to Ernie Eves' fake budget (it was held in her auto-parts plant). Her tech-savvy, however, gives her considerable bonus points, and makes her a candidate to watch in this campaign. Remember, Dean was written off in his early days as well, and although the results of his first electoral test were a disappointment, he remains far more serious a candidate than he would have been without the Internet. Expect future political candidates to follow in her footsteps.

This blog entry is being simulcast on Blogs Canada's EGroup Election Blog. This group blog has been set up by Jim Elve to allow a wide spectrum of Canadian bloggers to post about the next federal election, which smart money says is due this coming April or May. I'm a member, thanks to Jim's invitation, and I'm alongside such bloggers as Darren Barefoot, Jay Currie, Living in a Society and even Warren Kinsella. It should be a fun read if you are into Canadian political discussion. I believe it's well worth your attention.

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