Abstract

[This article was originally published in Nursing Leadership, 29(4)]

During the Canadian federal election in 2015, we conducted a systematic inquiry into the methods and messages developed by national nursing organizations to communicate their policy platforms and their strategies for member and public engagement. Throughout the campaign and in the post-election period, the nursing organizations presented an outward-looking view to improve health and healthcare for Canadians. We observed ways in which they adopted a nursing lens on the issues by showcasing background research, by drawing on relevant nursing knowledge and by communicating clear policy messages based on nursing expertise. The organizations and their members were effective in using social media as a primary tool for reaching out to the candidates, the public and the opinion leaders. The increasing engagement of nursing students in political action is noted as a promising sign for the future impact of the profession. Although the nursing presence was visible in this election, healthcare did not become a strong issue for the public and the political parties. We include a section on post-election uptake of issues raised during the campaign. We conclude with a call for a policy research agenda that deepens our knowledge of political advocacy with a view to identifying how patterns of engagement are defining nursing's collective influence and contributions to health equity.