The digital MP or how I learned to stop worrying and love MP

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Abstract

It is hard to imagine life on Parliament Hill in Canada without the ubiquitous Blackberry. The device has become so common place that we no longer bat an eye when we hear its rhythmic buzzing or find its frenzied operators tapping away on its minuscule keyboard. It's just one of new technologies that have caught the attention of the modern ‘digital’ MP. Today, almost every MP has a website and we've seen increasing interest in experimentation with blogs, online consultations, e-petitions and various social networking sites. They have brought myriad changes and challenges to the functions of MPs and their relationships with constituents. This paper details how various information and communication technologies, or ICTs, are being used by MPs in Canada. It questions whether they are being used to enhance citizen engagement, for professionalization, or both. Ultimately, it is concluded that there are more opportunities for consultation, but few, such as Canadian MP Garth Turner, are embracing the potential for greater participation.

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