McGuinty attends tweetup
Local tweeters were greeted by an unlikely party-crasher Friday night — Ontario’s premier.Dalton McGuinty surprised about 25 people gathered for a meet-up among Twitter friends, better known as a ‘tweetup.’
“I want to be introduced as a fellow tweeter, and as Dalton,” the premier told organizer Robin Griffin in the parking lot of Shoeless Joe’s, before entering the party.
Griffin, of Milton, had previous correspondence with the premier over the social-networking site. “It all started when I tweeted that my daughter had a nightmare Dalton McGuinty was closing down her school.”
McGuinty tweeted back: “Ensure your daughter I’m not closing down her school and kiss her goodnight.”
Griffin, an experienced tweeter, has previously organized three tweetups. McGuinty is relatively new to the twittersphere, having only launched an account this past August. Despite entering late in the game, he has more than 5,300 followers and, according to Griffin, does all his own tweeting.
Last week, Griffin was contacted by McGuinty’s staff inquiring about the event. “I was told he really wanted to come since he’s never been to a tweetup, and he’ll be driving through the area Friday. But his head of security said I couldn’t tell anybody. It was the biggest secret I ever had to keep.”
But it didn’t take long for the twitterverse to become aflutter with the news once McGuinty entered the Main Street eatery.
“I respect him a little bit more for taking that chance,” said Ward 6 Councillor Mike Cluett, who attended the event. “A lot of his policies are unpopular, and you always run that risk of someone yelling and screaming.”
However, everyone treated the premier with respect, said Cluett, adding there was “an excitement in the air.”
While the event was non-political — with the premier spending about an hour-and-a-half asking attendees and Shoeless Joe’s patrons about themselves — Cluett did manage to bring up one local issue.
“I was helping take a picture (of McGuinty) and I said, “One, two, three, hospital expansion! I think the message was received. Even just getting the premier of the province to say the words ‘Milton hospital expansion’ is great.”
Event-goer Brian Best did a double-take when he saw the premier walk into the restaurant.
“His visit definitely humanizes him a bit more. It’s something you don’t see happen a lot with people in higher levels of government.”
Griffin said she’s honoured McGuinty found the time to stop by her event. “He’s a very important man in this country and he took the time to meet me, and I’m just a simple taxpayer.”
Days following the excitement of McGuinty’s visit, one burning question remains on Griffin’s mind. “How am I going to top this guest?