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Twitter Just Changed Canadian Politics Forever

Twitter is so incredibly real-time, and so amazingly accurate, that no one really gives a shit about waiting for political poll results anymore. That’s because numerous companies now precisely track society’s feelings toward political parties, and by combining real-time keyword trends with other key numbers (such as how many followers a candidate has, or how quickly his following is growing), it’s becoming more plausible than ever to predict the winners of virtually any election long before the government makes it public and official.

While few people actually tweet something as blunt as, “I’m voting for X,” all experiments leading up today have proved that Twitter—and all social media, but especially Twitter—is now a viable method of predicting election results. Probably more viable than cold-calls, or online surveys, or pretty much anything, in fact. Today, the government finally acknowldged this. And as a result, one component of Canada’s political system has changed forever.

The Harper government today announced its plan to end a longstanding ban of publicly revealing election results until all the polls close. As Postmedia put it, this move brings “the law into harmony with the realities of instantaneous communications in the 21st century.” Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal tweeted—yes, how fitting—the news this morning. 

“Our government is committed to bringing Canadian elections into the 21st century by getting rid of this dated and unenforceable law,” Tim said in a press release issued shortly after. “Canadians should have the freedom to communicate about election results without fear of penalization.”

Before, Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act said that someone could be fined up to $25,000 for revealing election results in a riding where voting has not completed. But the internet never cared about this rule since day one. Government knew this; they just didn’t want to accept it. Until now.

“We’re in the 21st century,” acknowledged Tim. “The ban, which was enacted in 1938, does not make sense with the widespread use of social media and other modern communications technology.” Via Twitter, he informed curious Canadians that the ban will be introduced “when [legislation] is ready,” and that the governments hope is for the ban to be repealed “before [the] next general election.”

Welcome to today, #CdnPoli.

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