Social Media Watch – Pride and Politics



Pride events are celebratory occasions for many Canadians—a time to come together and recognize the history, courage and diversity of the LGBT community.

But it also has its political connotations, with heightened attention on LGBT issues and challenges from media and government. In recent years, Pride has become a signature political event for parties of all stripes to display their inclusiveness and support for diversity.

Toronto’s 36th annual Pride Parade (#PrideTO), Canada’s largest parade of its kind, had no shortage of political undertones. As NDP leadership candidate and Ontario LGBTQ Critic Cheri DiNovo, who has been participating in Pride events for more than 45 years, tweeted following the parade, “Pride is political or it isn’t Pride.”

Joined by Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Justin Trudeau became the first sitting Canadian prime minister to march in a Pride parade, generating significant social traction and media coverage.

As Ensight’s post-election research suggests, by voting for Real Change, Canadians made a decision to restore the values they view as traditionally defining Canada and our society, including civility, kindness and inclusion.

While he’s participated in Pride events before, by doing so as Prime Minister, Trudeau is once again setting a different tone for Canadian government. And opposition parties followed suit.

This year’s Toronto Pride parade saw unprecedented participation from the Conservatives. Interim leader Rona Ambrose, Ontario Progressive Leader Patrick Brown and declared party leadership candidates Kellie Leitch, Michael Chong and Maxime Bernier marched with members of LGBTory Canada, an advocacy group that’s sparked a Tory shift on gay rights.


The Conservatives successfully leveraged the LGBTory tagline as a natural amplification point for an existing outreach strategy. As a result, they received substantial traction with 1,799,482 potential impressions between July 3-6—68 per cent of which were retweets or shares, showing their message was being spread by their supporters.

DiNovo, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath and members of the Ontario NDP LGBTQ Committee marched on behalf of the NDP, but the party lacked social activity and missed an opportunity to build off a social campaign they launched in June called #endtheban (not to mention a perfect Pride hashtag #NDPride) aimed at lifting restrictions on blood donations of the LGBT community.

During Pride, there were 18 social posts using the hashtag that generated only 383 potential impressions. The top post from an NDP member was from DiNovo—not about Pride itself, but about her support for Black Lives Matter’s protest, which halted the Pride parade for 30 minutes. The NDP’s federal accounts did not post about Pride.

But no politician or party received more attention than Trudeau, whose Pride posts generated viral exposure both in Canada and internationally, including highly-shared news articles from the BBC and Mashable.

Social posts mentioning ‘Justin Trudeau’ garnered 27,607,769 potential social impressions between July 3-6. His top social post was a Facebook video that has been viewed 4.9 million times, while the top five articles related to his Pride appearance gained a total of 137.1K social shares.

As we’ve examined in past editions of Social Media Watch, (see our analysis of Trudeau’s yoga pose) positive news about Trudeau always performs well, often gaining more social traction and media attention than opposing parties or stories that are perhaps more controversial.

As the Conservatives and NDP look towards the next election, they’ll be seeking a leader who can step into the social media environment as capably as Trudeau.

– Jeff Blay, Enterprise (, @JeffBlay) and Adam Schwartz, Associate Consultant, Navigator (