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These Ontario politicians are using TikTok to connect with millions of viewers

Left, a screenshot from MPP Goldie Ghamari's Tiktok. Right, a screenshot of MPP Sol Mamakwa's TikTok (gghamari/TikTok, solmamakwa/TikTok) Left, a screenshot from MPP Goldie Ghamari's Tiktok. Right, a screenshot of MPP Sol Mamakwa's TikTok (gghamari/TikTok, solmamakwa/TikTok)

A TikTok account may not be the first resource you’d expect to find in a politician’s toolkit, but more Ontario officials are carving a niche out on the platform.

Goldie Ghamari, the MPP for Carleton in Ottawa, has utilized TikTok to her advantage, aquiring an audience of more than 50,000 followers in the two years since she created her account.

The 36-year-old Progressive Conservative uploads almost daily to the app, which allows users to post short, personalized videos for their audience. In her videos, Ghamari shares insights into the daily life of an Ontario politician and what goes on behind-the-scenes at Queen’s Park, while also creating more lighthearted content, like the many videos with her GoldenDoodle, Baxter.

“I joined TikTok in March 2020 soon after Premier Ford announced the state of emergency and first lockdown due to COVID-19,” Ghamari told CTV News Toronto. “My sister started sending [TikToks] to me and I decided to make an account as a way to keep in touch with her and some of my other friends.”

She said the platform made her feel less isolated in the early days of the pandemic.

The first video of Ghamari’s that went viral, posted in April 2020 and amassing more than 1.4M views, detailed reactions she claims to receive when people find out she’s a politician, including questions like, ‘Are you old enough?’ and, ‘Why are you on social media?'

@gghamari Things people tell me when they find out what I do for a living #FYP #ForYouPage #Ontario #politics #onpoli #Canada #PoliticiansOfTikTok #millennial ♬ Ride It - Regard

While Ghamari initially used the account to share government messaging about COVID-19 information “in a fun and lighthearted way,” she soon started to explore themes around being a young woman and visible minority participating in conservative politics.

In one video, Ghamari describes herself as a ‘Red Tory’ — a term often used to describe conservative politicians that may favour social policies, while still focusing on fiscal discipline.

She ensures her audience that she is pro-choice, supports LGBTQS2+ rights, and that her political focus is “reducing wasteful government spending and respecting taxpayer money.”

Sol Mamakwa, the New Democratic Party MPP for Kiiwetinoong, has over 30,000 followers on TikTok. He shares videos on Indigneous issues, life as an MPP and his day-to-day as a Kingfisher Lake band member.

Mamakwa’s most viewed video was posted for Canada Day 2021.

“I want to be able to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day, but I cannot,” the MPP said in the video.

He asks Canadians to reflect on the “horrific price that was paid to establish this country that we call Canada.”

The video has nearly 376,000 views.

“That's where I think we were able to reach those who were never part of the conversation, those who are just learning and want to be part of the change,” Mamakwa told CTV News Toronto on Monday.

“It's important to share stories about Indigenous people,” he said. “Not only that, but the work I do as a First Nations politician.”

Mamakwa has shared videos informing Canadians of the Neskantaga water crisis, the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children in Kamloops in 2021 and the housing crisis, among a myriad of others.

"It starts by sharing the truth," he said.

But Mamakwa says he likes to sprinkle in some humour into his content as well and often enjoys browsing through #nativetiktok and #indigenoustiktok, where he says he finds “a lot of humour.”

Ghamari and Mamakwa have even colloborated on TikTok in the past. 

When asked if she’s received any backlash from her online hobby, Ghamari said criticism has only come from those who don’t know her or “would never vote for [her] in the first place.”

“I’ve received an overwhelming amount of positive and encouraging comments from constituents because they appreciate that I’m engaging with younger people,” she said. “Most people understand that politicians take breaks just like everyone else and engage in various hobbies and activities — mine just happens to be a bit more public-facing.”

She says does have to be careful about what she puts on the internet though. In one TikTok, titled ‘Things you can’t have as a politician,’ Ghamari shares that she feels pressure to suppress her sense of humour, personality and social life in order to fit the mould of a politician.

Comments on some of her videos accuse the politician of spending too much time creating social media content, to which she said TikTok is simply for fun and no amount of videos mean she’s not performing her parliamentary duties.

While Ghamari never expected her account to take off the way it has, she says she’s still enjoying creating the videos and hopes to continue engaging with her community.

“I never actually thought that so many people would like my political sense of humour or be so engaged with my videos,” she said.

“I think TikTok is a fun way to share your message with younger people if you can capture their interest and engagement. I’ll make videos whenever I have some spare time because it’s a fun hobby and a great way to express my creativity when I want to relax after a long day.” Top Stories

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