September 17, 2015 9:46 pm
Updated: September 17, 2015 9:52 pm

Elizabeth May inserts herself into debate on the economy via Twitter

Twitter Canada, Steve Ladurantaye, records Green Party leader Elizabeth May, on his smart phone, to be uploaded to Twitter as she live-tweets to leaders during the Globe and Mail leaders' debate, in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, September 17, 2015. Providing a real-time 30-second or less Tweet during the debate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

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Elizabeth May fired a volley of digital salvos in the campaign debate on the economy, tweeting on trade, infrastructure, clean energy and job creation.

The Green party leader wasn’t invited to the Calgary event hosted by the Globe and Mail newspaper, so she used Twitter instead in an effort to elbow her way into the conversation.

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May assembled hundreds of supporters at a Victoria church where she videotaped short statements for distribution through her Twitter account.

She denounced the Globe’s decision to exclude her from the debate, calling it a private, corporate event.

The sort of exposure a national debate can provide is crucial to the Green party in its bid to build on a parliamentary beachhead of two seats.

READ MORE: Mulcair, Harper, Trudeau drop the gloves in second leaders debate

May said Thursday she expects to reach thousands of Canadians through Twitter. “The disadvantage is I can’t say, ‘Mr. Harper, with all due respect, that isn’t true,”‘ she acknowledged.

Twitter Canada, Steve Ladurantaye, records Green Party leader Elizabeth May, on his smart phone, to be uploaded to Twitter as she live-tweets to leaders during the Globe and Mail leaders’ debate, in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, September 17, 2015. The Green party leader wasn’t invited to the Calgary event hosted by the Globe and Mail newspaper, but she’s using Twitter to try to elbow her way into the conversation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The Globe defended the Calgary format, saying it would lead to focused discussion on the Canadian economy.

The snub prompted Twitter Canada’s Steve Ladurantaye to suggest a parallel digital debate, something he helped the Scottish National Party do in Britain earlier this year.

According to statistics compiled by public-relations firm North Strategic, May was mentioned in 1,799 tweets in a 24-hour period leading up to the Calgary debate.

That was about 300 more than NDP Leader Tom Mulcair but fewer than Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

May grabbed headlines for turning to social media in a bid to become part of the discussion – at least online, if not on stage. But it remained to be seen whether she would be tweeting to the converted or reaching a broader audience with her video missives.

As the other three leaders sparred in Calgary, May churned out a steady stream of video statements and fact checks, and retweeted a series of platform blurbs from her party.

In an interview this week, the Green leader said she hoped to provide “something of a reality check” during the debate.

“I’m not the most technologically savvy person,” she said. “But I do understand my job is to insert in 30-second responses what I would have said if I were on stage.”

– With files from Dirk Meissner in Victoria

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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