Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Advertising Subscribe Reuse & Permissions
Hill Times Events Hill Times Books Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
News

Liberals spent more than $16,000 on Snapchat filters since coming to power

By Rachel Aiello      

Almost half of the spending went into a $10,000 USD Snapchat filter buy at the NHL 100 event, while a considerable amount was spent on filters at Canada’s Embassy in Washington. In Iqaluit on New Year’s Eve 2016, the government spent $114.10 USD on a filter which three people used, and was viewed 134 times.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured in this file photo, posing for a selfie on the Hill. The filters on the popular social media platform Snapchat were used by seven government departments, and arm's-length agencies, and Crown corporations, to promote initiatives and special events in both Canada and the U.S.
The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

The Liberal government spent more than $16,000 on developing and placing Snapchat filters in both Canada and the United States to promote the federal government during special events, since its cabinet was sworn in on Nov. 4, 2015.

Seven federal departments, agencies, and Crown corporations reported developing specialized filters for Snapchat—a popular social media platform that allows temporary photo-sharing—between Nov. 4, 2015 and the day the question was asked through an Order Paper on March 21, 2017, for a total cost of about $22,000 CAD.

The total amount spent on Snapchat filters—information requested by Conservative MP Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill, Alta.)—includes some amounts that were reported in U.S. dollars, which The Hill Times converted using today’s exchange rate, as well as some amounts represented in Canadian dollars. The total, once the amounts listed in U.S. dollars have been converted to Canadian dollars, is about $22,000 CAD.

The total cost, without converting the amounts in U.S. dollars—listed in the Order Paper response—to Canadian dollars, is $16,882.70.

Snapchat filters are frames or overlaid images that can be placed on a photo taken with the Snapchat app, and which can be programmed to be location-specific. The location recognition allows attendees at a specific event or in a particular area to apply the filter to their personal photos, which can then be shared with friends who use the app.

It’s not clear from the government’s response if each event had one specific filter only, or if multiple filters were made available to users at that location. However, in total, there were more than 6,712 reported uses of the filters.

The biggest spender on developing Snapchat filters was Canadian Heritage, which spent a total of $13,365.93 USD on developing filters in order to build “awareness and heighten visibility around the year-long 150th celebration.”

Canadian Heritage spent $10,000 USD on Jan. 12017, to have a Snapchat filter available at the NHL 100 Event at the BMO Field in Toronto, Ont. In total, the department reported the filter was used 859 times, and as a result, received 43,086 views.

The rest of the department’s Snapchat spending went into creating filters for New Year’s Eve celebrations in 19 major cities across Canada on Dec. 31, 2016, for varying costs between $19.12 USD in St. John’s, N.L., and $536.43 USD in the National Capital Region. The government spent $214.08 USD to provide a filter for Yellowknife which eight people used, and was viewed 361 times. Similarly, in Iqaluit, the government spent $114.10 USD on a filter that three people used, and was viewed 134 times.

A screen-caption of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s response to the Order Paper question about the cost of developing and placing Snapchat filters.

The most popular use of the filter was in Toronto, where 953 people used it and was viewed 37,031 times.

Global Affairs Canada was the second most prolific user of Snapchat filters, and reported four separate uses of them in the United States.

The federal Canadian government spent $300 USD to have a filter available at the Canadian embassy in Washington for the April 29, 2016 White House Correspondent’s Dinner that was used 425 times and viewed 27,149 times.

Another $200 USD was spent to develop a filter for Canada Day celebrations on July 1, which was used 100 times and viewed 7,499 times.

It cost the department $125 USD to have a filter available on U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration day, Jan. 20, 2017. That filter was used 219 times, and viewed 11,054 times. A number of top Canadian officials were in Washington that day to partake in the pomp and circumstance around the inauguration, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland (University-Rosedale, Ont.); her parliamentary secretary on Canada-U.S. relations Andrew Leslie (Orléans, Ont.); Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.); Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr (Winnipeg South Centre, Man.); and interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose (Sturgeon River-Parkland, Alta.).

Global Affairs Canada, in the response to the question, said the Snapchat filters were used “to enhance the guests’ experience and allow them to include Canadian content when sharing photos on social media from an event at the embassy.”

Another $377 USD went to “raise awareness of Canada’s, and in particular HMCS Calgary’s, participation in the San Francisco’s Fleet Week festivities for 2016.” This filter was launched on Oct. 5, 2016 and was used 731 times, and viewed 8,000 times.

Employment and Social Development Canada spent a total of $85.93 USD on three separate filters. The first was launched Nov. 1, 2016 at Carleton University for the National Youth Forum consultations with Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough (Delta, B.C.) on the planned new accessibility legislation, and it cost $5 USD.

The department also spent $68.01 USD on a filter that launched Nov. 18, 2016 at the C.D. Howe Building for the Hackathon to address homelessness; and $12.92 USD on a filter available at the Canadian War Museum for an International Day of Persons with Disabilities event that Ms. Qualtrough and Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr (Calgary Centre, Alta.) were present at, on Nov. 30, 2016.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation, an arm’s-length agency, spent $58.85 CAD for a filter available to users in the Greater Toronto Area during the foundation’s 2016 National Conference. It was used 59 times and viewed 176 times.

The Canadian Museum of Nature dropped $26.57 CAD on a filter that was available for attendees of the Nature Nocturne event at the museum, which began on Feb. 24, 2017, and lasted until the early morning of Feb. 25, 2017. The specific uses of this filter were not reported, but it was viewed 6,468 times.

Environment and Climate Change Canada put $18.42 into developing a Snapchat filter internally to promote the National Youth Summit on Climate Change that happened in Ottawa on Nov. 23, 2016. The filter was available within the vicinity of the Sir John A. Macdonald Building on Wellington Street, and was used 31 times, and viewed 2,671 times.

Lastly, Farm Credit Canada used a filter. which it reports had no development costs — as the filters were created in-house — but does note that $2,825 CAD was spent on a “placement cost” for the filters, which The Hill Times has factored in to the overall total.

These filters, which the agency notes were available in both official languages, were available on Canada’s Agriculture Day, Feb. 16, 2017. The filters were targeted in downtown Ottawa and at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture, in Truro, N.S.

The Hill Times

More in News

Military activities, veterans’ support, Phoenix fix big-ticket items in $4B new spending ask

News|By Emily Haws
The Department of National Defence and other departments providing services to active and retired members of the Armed Forces are taking up a sizeable chunk of the $4-billion in extra spending the Liberals have put…

Singh will have to showcase ‘political guts,’ clear progressive message to connect with voters

New leader Jagmeet Singh will have to live up to his promise to boldly dig deeper into social democratic values or he'll risk alienating NDP grassroots as the party tries to create distance from the Liberal…

Texting, sit-downs, and lots of waiting in hotel rooms: the ins and outs of NAFTA lobbying

News|By Shruti Shekar
Dozens of industry groups are dispatching executives to every round of the NAFTA renegotiation, and using texts, emails, and phone calls to try to talk to Canada's negotiating leads about what is being discussed with…

Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould justified in speaking out after controversial Stanley verdict, marked a turning point for Canada, say MPs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould were right to speak out after the verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial, say Liberal and NDP Parliamentarians, who believe the government and Parliament have to…

What happens if an MP’s found guilty of sexual harassment? No one’s saying

News|By Abbas Rana
All the federal political parties say they take sexual harassment “seriously,” but none will say what disciplinary action they would take against an MP found guilty of it. “We take sexual harassment allegations very seriously,…

Feds’ sweeping, new environmental assessment bill keeps power in ministers’ hands, say observers

The government’s new Impact Assessment Act includes hundreds of pages detailing changes to the environmental assessment process in Canada, but keeps ultimate power over approving natural resource projects in the hands of the federal environment…

NDP reviewing past, present harassment processes amid Stoffer, Weir allegations

The NDP isn’t currently investigating the specific harassment allegations against former NDP MP Peter Stoffer, but it says it's looking into how such complaints were, are now and will be handled, something strategist Robin Sears…

Patrick Brown gaining support since re-emerging to challenge sexual harassment allegations, says adviser, though Conservative MPs largely quiet

Patrick Brown, who in a dramatic move re-entered the Ontario leadership late Friday afternoon, is receiving strong support from all corners of the political world since publicly re-emerging to challenge the sexual harassment allegations that…

NDP elects former Hill staffer Vick as new party president

NDP members elected a new party president on the last day of the party’s 2018 policy convention, with former Hill staffer Mathieu Vick being elevated to the role after garnering roughly 83 per cent of…

WANT MORE EXCLUSIVE HILL TIMES CONTENT?

We’re offering 15% off a year-long subscription to the hill times online content.