Social media skeletons killing election hopes in N.S.
Josh K. Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, May 17, 2017 12:18PM EDT
Internet history has come back to haunt three first-time candidates in the Nova Scotia provincial election, forcing them to drop out over comments about date rape drugs, breast implants and people with disabilities.
Dartmouth South candidate Jad Crnogorac (Progressive Conservative), Dartmouth East candidate Bill McEwen (NDP) and Pictou East candidate Matthew MacKnight (Liberal) have all been booted from the race within the last two weeks, after their offensive online activities came to light. The NDP and the PCs will now contest the May 30 provincial election without candidates in those ridings, as they missed the deadline to submit new candidates.
Crnogorac was booted from the race on Tuesday, after CTV Atlantic asked her party about comments on her Twitter feed.
One tweet from Oct. 29, 2015, referred to date-rape drugs as "women's Viagara."
"My co-worker just said 'isn't women's Viagara called a roofie.' Hahahaha I needed a good laugh," Crnogorac wrote in the tweet, which has since been deleted.
In another tweet from Marc 3, 2016, Crnogorac jokes about white people at the Black Entertainment Television Awards. "I have decided I am boycotting the @BET awards. Not 1 white person was nominated," she said in a tweet that has since been deleted.
In a tweet dated Oct. 25, 2016, Crnogorac compares actress Kerry Washington to "my black cabbage patch kid when I was 8… her name was Carrie."
Olivia Popes skin looks like butter. She reminds me of my black cabbage patch kid i had when I was 8.. her name was Carrie.— Jad Crnogorac (@jadcrnogorac) October 25, 2016
In another tweet, Crnogorac jokes about accidentally sharing a nude photo of herself with her Snapchat followers.
Do you ever send a nude snap to your story instead of directly to someone... by accident.. then your battery dies? No. yeah me either.— Jad Crnogorac (@jadcrnogorac) November 29, 2016
"We're not looking for perfection, but there is a line," PC Leader Jamie Baillie said on Tuesday. "And joking about date rape crosses that line."
Crnogorac addressed her ouster on Twitter Tuesday, saying: "I am not perfect. I am human. Taking this as an opportunity to listen, learn, engage and stand up for what's right."
Crnogorac fired back at Baillie on Wednesday, questioning why another candidate was allowed to remain with the party after he was heard making insensitive comments in a YouTube video. She also suggested she would continue to run as an independent.
Bill McEwen stepped down as an NDP candidate on Monday, following revelations that he published sexist and homophobic content on a website he created in 2011. "in a world of breast implants, fast food, and cheap beer, what's not to love about being a man?" said the description on the site's about page. The site, called the Bullpen, says it covers men's issues "from booze to boobs."
McEwen apologized for the website after his resignation. "I am absolutely 100 per cent sorry," he said. "I should not have published this stuff."
NDP Leader Gary Burrill condemned McEwen's actions on Tuesday. "All manner of systemic disregard and disrespect is unacceptable in our society, and is something that no one should ever engage with," he said.
Crnogorac and McEwen were booted from their campaigns a little over a week after MacKnight was kicked out of the race for the Liberals. MacKnight was ousted after a tweet surfaced from 2013, in which he called someone an expletive and included the hashtags #downsyndrome and #stupidcustomers.
Liberal campaign chair Chris MacInnes called the comments "highly inappropriate" in a news release last week. Party leader Stephen McNeil also came out against MacKnight's tweet.
"As a candidate, you need to be prepared to lay out what it is that could potentially be a problem for you," McNeil said earlier this week.
It's not the first time social media comments have played havoc with election candidates' chances. Nearly a dozen candidates in the 2015 federal election were forced to apologize or resign over online activities that surfaced during the campaign.
NDP Leader Burrill said it's tough to fully vet all candidates' public personas, particularly in the age of social media. "We give it a lot of effort, but it's like a lot of things. Sometimes your best effort doesn't accomplish the goal."
With files from CTV Atlantic and The Canadian Press