Ottawa’s reigning political selfie junkie is not who you think

The Prime Minister takes a lot of flack when he constantly poses for selfies at public events. But he’s not Ottawa’s selfie king.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) poses for a selfie with students during the First Ministers' meeting in Ottawa, Canada November 23, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) poses for a selfie with students during the First Ministers’ meeting in Ottawa, Canada November 23, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

It’s safe to say that federal politics has never been more obsessed with selfies, whether it’s MPs snapping them and uploading them to their social media accounts, or other MPs mocking their colleagues for doing so. So far to date, selfies have come up 55 times in Parliament—including this recent zinger from NDP MP Charlie Angus: “We see a government that believes it can run on slogans, selfies, and Hallmark card political aphorisms”—with the number of “selfie” references up from just seven last year and only twice in 2014. By far the most common target of selfie criticism is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

MORE: Newsmakers: Justin Trudeau, Canada’s image-conscious target

But just which MP is Canada’s reigning selfie king or queen? To find out, we asked Mark Blevis of FullDuplex, an Ottawa-based digital public affairs firm, to crunch the social media numbers. And after analyzing close to 60,000 tweets from nearly two dozen of the most Twitter-active MPs over a 12-month period, we have a winner—and it’s not who you think.

SelfieNation Infographic

Liberal MP John McCallum is Canada’s most selfie-prone MP. In 77 per cent of tweets sent out from McCallum’s account that included a photo (see how he compared by looking at the circles in the top half of the infographic), the immigration minister himself was in the picture. Indeed, fully 43 per cent of all McCallum’s tweets included a photo of him (represented by the squares in the bottom half of the infographic). McCallum is followed by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (34 per cent of tweets, 68 per cent of photos) and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (31 per cent of tweets, 60 per cent of photos).

For the purpose of analyzing political selfies, Blevis looked not only at those photos that MPs took of themselves, but all tweeted photos in which the MPs themselves appeared. It’s not a strict definition of a selfie, but it does reflect politicians’ obsession with being in the camera frame. “Whether they extend their arm and snap a photo of themselves (with or without others) with the back-facing camera of their smartphone, or they have a photographer document their every move, MPs have an unhealthy dependency on being in their own photographs,” says Blevis.

He notes that it’s become “fashionable for critics of the Liberals to criticize Justin Trudeau for his affinity for selfies… Really, though, selfies have replaced autographs and have become the new way we document our lives.” As for the prime minister, 24 per cent of his tweets feature photos of himself, with him appearing in 66 per cent of all his photo tweets.

Among the least selfie-minded MPs, Blevis found, were Conservative MP Michelle Rempel (one per cent of tweets, 13 per cent of photos), NDP MP Nathan Cullen (four per cent of tweets, 18 per cent of photos) and Green Leader Elizabeth May (four per cent of tweets, 22 per cent of photos).

This analysis, however, focuses on the percentage of MP tweets that include selfies. When sheer volume is taken into account, Canada has a different selfie champ: Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. In 12 months, she tweeted 2,295 selfie photos, close to 1.3 times more than the next MP, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. By that measure, McCallum is rather average, sending out 333 selfie tweets.

Top 10 MPs, ranked by total selfies

MP Total number of selfies
Catherine McKenna 2,295
Carolyn Bennett 986
Justin Trudeau 826
Rona Ambrose 764
Jane Philpott 568
Harjit Sajjan 423
Jody Wilson-Raybould 367
Elizabeth May 352
John McCallum 333
Tony Clement 325

Top 10 MPs, ranked by percentage of tweets with selfies

MP % of tweets with selfies
John McCallum 43%
Jody Wilson-Raybould 34%
Harjit Sajjan 31%
Ed Fast 30%
Jane Philpott 27%
Justin Trudeau 24%
Rona Ambrose 23%
Catherine McKenna 22%
Robert Aubin 20%
Thomas Mulcair 19%

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