• April 3, 2014 1:30 PM

Andrea Horwath breaks new digital ground with one million views on Facebook

TORONTO, April 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Andrea Horwath this week became the first political leader in Canada to reach one million views for a Facebook post, as a posting by her tapping into the squeeze middle class families are feeling went viral.

The post by the leader of Ontario's New Democrats spread through social media in a way no other political leader in the country has seen, and was shared more than 25,000 times, liked more than 43,000 times, and viewed more than 1 million times.

The record-breaking post speaks to the pocket book pressures people are facing as the cost of living rises and the middle class shrinks, and it takes aim at a hugely unpopular move by energy company Enbridge to hike gas prices by 40 per cent. The post features a gas stove element lit up, along with the text: "Families are already struggling to make ends meet. Stop the unfair gas hike."

"This use of social media to engage voters is par for the course in today's politics but Andrea Horwath's level of engagement is incredible," said Ian Capstick, Managing Partner of Mediastyle a public affairs firm with a digital-first focus.

Shamini Selvaratnam, Director of Communications for the Ontario New Democratic Party, said: "Andrea has a unique ability to connect with people. She gets them, they get her, she knows what's on their mind and speaks directly to them. This shows she is able to make that connection with people through social networks as well, which is rare for a leader but not surprising for Andrea."

The record 25,000 shares puts Horwath's post far above top posts on Facebook pages from other Canadian political leaders, including: Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Liberal leader Justin Trudeau; Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak; and Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.

"Andrea is the most popular leader in Ontario and it shows when she's out there meeting on the streets, in church halls, at county fairs, or in small businesses. That energy and connection she has with people translates to her social media presence and the way people react to her," said Selvaratnam.

"Families are struggling to make ends meet and they're sharing Andrea's post on their Facebook wall because they trust her to take action and want to be a part of that," she added.

Ontario's New Democrats have a track record of finding new ways online to engage with people. Back in 2009 it was the first political party in Canada to trend worldwide on Twitter. The post that went viral this week was not promoted using Facebook's Sponsored Post advertising program, meaning all of the record-breaking social media activity was authentic and organic and reflected real support for the Horwath's demand for action on the eye-popping increase in gas prices.

SOURCE New Democratic Party of Ontario

For further information: Media Inquiries: Shamini Selvaratnam (416) 871-6480