Why He’s A Top 40: Through his blog, he uses the web and social media tools to help close generation gaps in the political, health-care and literary sectors by making it easier for younger generations to join discussions that are reshaping our city and province.
Key To His Success: Recognizing the power of social media and how to wield it effectively. “There are always communication issues between generations, no matter what profession you’re in. This is a way that we can try and bridge that gap.”
Usually it’s bad when the premier of Alberta threatens to sue you, but for blogger David Cournoyer, it turned out to be a good thing.
It was a turning point for him when, in 2007, he bought and redirected the URL edstelmach.ca to his own political blog after discovering the address hadn’t been purchased, despite Premier Ed Stelmach’s long political career.
Stelmach was not impressed. But the media flocked.
“I think it was a generational thing,” Cournoyer says in explaining how the premier’s office could overlook buying the domain. “I think it woke them up a bit. They are a lot more web savvy now than they were three or four years ago. Now they’re on Twitter and using YouTube and their website more efficiently.”
That’s exactly the type of positive change Cournoyer tries to inspire with daveberta.ca, the award-winning blog he started in 2005 to get younger generations more involved in political discussions.
Five years later, thanks partly to the publicity tied to Stelmach’s wrath, the site sees upward of 1,000 hits a day. It was voted Best Political Blog and Best Blogosphere Citizen in the 2007 Canadian Blog Awards, and Best Progressive Blog in 2008.
Cournoyer’s love of politics began at an early age, thanks to his politically aware parents. But it wasn’t until he witnessed the Bill 11 protests over Ralph Klein’s plan in the late 1990s to bring a two-tier health-care system to Alberta that he decided to really get involved in activism.
“It signalled to me how absolutely removed a lot of people in that building are from reality,” he says about many MLAs working in the Alberta legislature. “There were thousands of people protesting night after night and these guys were still going to push through this legislation. They eventually ended up amending it because there was so much public pressure.”
Cournoyer is now a University of Alberta student completing a political science degree and completely immersed in projects he hopes are bringing people together to reshape the province and the city he calls home.
As a communications officer for United Nurses of Alberta, he has developed and implemented social media strategies that help the 25,000 members negotiate union contracts and communicate with one another. In 2008, as the youngest member of the programming committee of LitFest, he connected amateur writers to veteran authors. And in 2009, he helped organize the first ChangeCamp Edmonton – an event that brought together 200 citizens, journalists, bloggers and policy-makers to discuss how government and citizens can interact more effectively with technology.
None of this means that he doesn’t love Edmonton. He just wants to help it be the best it can be.
“Let’s create something that isn’t necessarily competing with the larger centres, but create a city that has the kind of quality of life that’s going to attract people and create an economy and vibrant arts community.”