The Canadian federal election is not likely to generate the heat and light (or smoke and mirrors) of the American presidential race, but it’s kind of important to those of us on the north side of the the 49th.

This will be Canda’s first election where the web seems destined to play a role. I haven’t spent a lot of time poking around the web to see what’s out there, but here are a few sites that have come to my attention. (This may be updated as the election campaign unfolds over the next four weeks.)

J-school tracks social media buzz on Canada’s elections. The always inventive and keenly intelligent Alfred Hermida announces the launch of NetPrimeMinister.ca. The site, an initiative of the journalism department at the University of B.C., “scours social media to provide continual updates on the online buzz about the election.” It’s a NetVibes aggregator site, with separate tabs for blogs, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Digg, tracking the leaders of each of the five federal parties.

The Hook is another Vancouver-based initiative, this one from the online news mag The Tyee. It’s a “political superblog,” with appropriate doses of attitude, and the tag line “Political News Freshly Caught.” As well as dealing with the federal election, there are posts on municipal elections. Comments are encouraged and, given The Tyee’s smallish but active commenting community, they will likely be lively.

The Tyee also recently published Blogs for Election Junkies, a collection of links to sites in both Canada and the U.S.

The national newspaper, The Globe & Mail, has launched a political portal that brings all its elections coverage together, mixing columnists, cartoonists, news reports, polls, blogs and more. There is already a ton of stuff there, but Robert Washburn at the Canadian Journalism Project isn’t that impressed. He gives his reasons in his article, Globe politics site fails on many levels.

UPDATE 1: The Canadian Journalism Project has pointed me to another multi-author election blog, this one at the left-tilting Canadian website rabble.ca.

UPDATE 2: David Akins has a piece, Dueling Web sites: Scandals and leadership, that highlights two new web sites from the two leading Canadian political parties.

UPDATE 3: Another Canadian j-school has weighed in. Ontario-based Carleton has launched Campaign Perspectives 2008 but it’s a bit of an odd beast. Posts are coming not from students, but from faculty. According to the Canadian Journalism Project: “faculty are providing analysis and commentary on media coverage of the campaign as well as the political dynamics of the campaign … over the next few weeks students in Carleton’s political reporting and public affairs reporting courses may also contribute to the blog.” Seems to me the use of the word “may” disses the students a tad.

UPDATE 4: Our own j-school plans for election coverage are going the other way: into print. The federal election is basis for the first of four themed print editions we’ll do this semester.

Currently playing in iTunes: Regasu by Mayra Andrade

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