Election 2015′s social media casualties (so far)

Canada Politics
NDP candidate Alex Johnstone promises to learn more about Holocaust

With its vast power to both influence and embarrass, social media can make or break candidates in this year’s federal election.

With less than three weeks until election day, 19 candidates have already found themselves in hot water after their controversial posts online were unearthed and presented to the media. While some resigned their candidacy and others stayed on, most were forced to go off-message and apologize publicly.

Here is the list of candidates who have found themselves in the hot seat for their social media postings.

Ethan Rabidoux, Perth-Wellington, Ont.

NDP candidate Ethan Rabidoux has apologized for lewd comments he made on social media in 2008 against former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The website True North Times uncovered several messages Rabidoux left on Facebook, including one where he calls Palin a “VPILF,” a play on the term MILF, a vulgar expression for an older woman.

It also found comments in which he vowed to give “50 punches to the head” to the next person who talks to him about global warming, and a post where he calls an automatic weapon a “magnificent instrument of democracy.” Rabidoux took to his official Facebook page to apologize for the seven-year-old comments and is still running with the support of his party.

Noah Richler, Toronto-St. Paul’s, Ont.

A Facebook post from last year was uncovered, in which star NDP candidate and literary critic Noah Richler criticized actress Jennifer Lawrence for speaking out about having private nude images stolen and released on the Internet.

“I don’t give a toss beyond finding it more than a wee bit ironic that a woman whose image has been so blatantly manipulated by the magazine for their mutual financial advantage protests of her leaked nude photos that ‘it’s my body, and it should be my choice.’ Yawn,” he wrote.

Richler has since apologized in a statement, saying he recognized how his comments could “be construed as indifference to women and their sexual exploitation, rather than frustration with the obsessive lens of the celebrity industry.” He continues to run with the support of his party.

Maria Manna, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, B.C.

Liberal candidate Maria Manna has resigned after it was revealed she’d questioned on Facebook the official accounts of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“So today we remember the tragedy of 911. Today we will talk about who did it and why. Today most people will continue to believe the lie, and again, THEY continue to win. Thank God I know the truth! LOVE is the answer!!!” she wrote in a post from Sept. 11, 2013.

While she first defended her comments by saying they were her “truth” at the time, she’s since resigned from her candidacy and her Facebook page is no longer active.

Stefan Jonasson, Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, Man.

The NDP candidate from Manitoba is the latest political hopeful to drop out of the federal election as a result of offensive comments he made on social media several years ago. Stefan Jonasson, who was running in the Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley riding, is a minister at Unitarian Universalist church, which references many religious beliefs. A blog called The True North Times unearthed an article Jonasson had posted years ago on social media, which compared Haredim, an Orthodox branch of Judaism, to the Taliban and other extremists that repress women.

In a Facebook post, he wrote, “I stand by my criticism of those who oppress women in the name of religion and I’m disappointed that my party chooses not to stand with me.” 

Alex Johnstone, Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, Ont.

The NDP candidate apologized for a comment made on a friend’s Facebook photo in 2008, in which she joked that the architectural structure of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp, was “phallic.” Alex Johnstone, who is vice-chairwoman of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, took to her social media to say she has since met with Jewish groups.

“The comments I made were clearly inappropriate and I never intended any malice in making them,” she wrote.

Johnstone is still running with the support of her party.  

Marilyn Gladu, Sarnia-Lambton, Ont.

The Conservative candidate shut down her Twitter account after political website PressProgress, a media project of the Broadbent Institute, published social media posts it claimed were from Marilyn Gladu’s accounts. The Facebook and Twitter posts focused on issues like Christianity being written into the Constitution, Muslim immigrants and whether those taking the oath of citizenship should be allowed to do so with their face covered. Gladu is still running with the support of her party and her Twitter account has been reactivated. 

Gordon Giesbrecht, Winnipeg South, Man.

A 2009 video of the Conservative candidate surfaced, in which he compares the numbers of those who died in the Holocaust to the number of abortions that have been performed since it became legal in North America. In the video Gordon Giesbrecht says it’s like “9/11 every day for the past 35 years.” Giesbrecht is still running with the support of his party. 

Chris Brown, Peace River-Westlock, Alta.

Chris Brown, Liberal candidate for Peace River-Westlock, admitted on Sept. 10 to posting several profanity-laden and misogynist tweets six years ago that were recently unearthed by a Twitter user. The tweets referred to women as “bitches” and “whores” and suggest the only reason to learn Spanish is to become a gardener or dishwasher.

After a reported meeting with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Brown apologized in a blog post for the comments and said the tweets were written while he was in the grip of an alcohol problem as a result of the 2009 death of his partner.

Joy Davies, South Surrey-White Rock, B.C.

Joy Davies resigned as Liberal party candidate for South Surrey-White Rock on Sept. 10 after comments she made about marijuana returned to haunt her.

Davies, who made the controversial comments on Facebook in 2013, wrote that marijuana posed no harm to children and reduces family violence. She also made comments suggesting the Canadian Cancer Society was “another outlet for big pharma.”

The Liberal Party responded in a statement that Davies’ views did not match the values or policies of the party on marijuana and that she had resigned.

Konstantin Toubis, King-Vaughan, Ont.

On Sept. 10, Konstantin Toubis acknowledged sharing several offensive Russian-language articles on sex and gender on his personal Facebook page over the past year, but said he would not step down as the Conservative candidate for King-Vaughan.

One of the articles posted offers advice to men. “A man never raises his hand to a woman, there are other body parts to raise for a woman.” Another asserted that if a man likes women with “bony behinds,” that is a “sign of a latent homosexual.”

The blog Press Progress was the first to unearth the publically shared articles. Toubis continues to have the support of his party.

Tim Dutaud, Toronto-Danforth, Ont.

Conservative candidate Tim Dutaud is no longer a candidate after YouTube videos surfaced of the former actor appearing as a character called “Unicaller.” One video features him crank calling a woman to tell her his erection won’t go away because of Viagra, and then ending the call by faking an orgasm. Another video shows him posing as a mentally disabled person making a call to the ETR highway toll company.

Jerry Bance, Scarborough-Rouge Park, Ont.

Jerry Bance, a candidate in the Scarborough-Rouge Park riding, was dropped by the Conservative Party on Sept. 6 after CBC News revealed a video that showed him urinating into a customer’s mug.

Bance was being secretly filmed for an episode of CBC’s Marketplace and was caught peeing into a coffee cup and dumping its contents into the sink that he was supposed to be fixing.

In response to being ID’ed as the man in the video, Bance released a statement that said: “the footage from that day does not reflect who I am as a professional or a person.I deeply regret my actions on that day.”

The Conservative party said that Bance was dropped for not being truthful during the screening process.

Kedina Fleury-Samson, Avignon-La Mitis-Matane –Matapédia, Que.

Bloc Québécois candidate Kedina Fleury-Samson had to clear up some strange accusations that she was a voodoo sorceress that stemmed from a September 2014 posting on a Facebook page called Salon entre 2 mondes. In the post, the 36-year-old promised participants a magical event where she would open their eyes to the invisible. Kedina Fleury-Samson is originally from Haiti, but was adopted as a child by a Quebec family. She says the magic she practises is a cultural mix between Haiti and Quebec and that she was not paid for the event. She calls the accusations about practicing voodoo a cliché, since she’s black.

VirJiny Provost, Mégantic-L'Érable, Que.

VirJiny Provost, 18, the Bloc Québécois candidate in Mégantic-L'Érable, was the subject of a mocking blog post after a list she posted on ask.fm was published by Quebec comedian and journalist Infoman.

Infoman published her response to the question of what three things she would want if she was the sole survivor of a nuclear attack. Her answer: “mon cell, un pénis, ben des chips,” which means “my cell, a penis, uhh some chips.” 

Provost has not yet commented on the blog post but she did delete her ask.fm profile. A spokesperson for the Bloc told le Soleil that Provost was still the party’s candidate and would not be reprimanded.

Soheil Eid, Joliette, Que.

Soheil Eid, a Conservative candidate running in the Quebec riding of Joliette, came under fire earlier this week when a post he made on Facebook on Aug. 16 resurfaced. The now deleted post written in French attempted to compare NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s public statements on the Energy East pipeline project to a quote by Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister.

“Mentez mentez, il en restera toujours quelque chose,” he wrote, which translates to: “Lie lie and something will always remain.”

A Conservative party spokesperson confirmed that the comments were “inappropriate” but did not ask Eid to step down. Eid apologized for the post.

Wiliam Moughrabi, Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Que.

Conservative candidate Wiliam Moughrabi, running in the Montreal riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, was forced to delete his social media accounts this week after violent and misogynist posts he made on Facebook were published by Some Random Political Blog.

The posts, most of which were made in 2014, included a video called the Man’s Guide to Women, which ranked women based on how crazy and/or hot they were. Other posts included comments like “never get into fights with ugly people, they have nothing to lose” and “karma takes too long. I’d rather beat the shit out of you now.”

Moughrabi admitted the comments were inappropriate but maintained they had been taken out of context. He has not stepped down.

Gilles Guibord, Rosemont–La-Petite-Patrie, Que.

Gilles Guibord, who was running for the Conservatives in the Montreal riding of Rosemont–La-Petite-Patrie, was forced to resign on Aug. 20 after several sexist and racist posts he made in the comments section of the online Journal de Montréal were discovered. The comments were unearthed and published by Some Random Political Blog and include commentary on First Nations people and the natural authority of men over women.

In the comments section of a 2013 editorial on sovereignty, Guibord wrote: “First Nations have always refused to integrate European culture. It is their right; but there was a price to pay for this decision: Reject the urban society and its benefits.“

Guibord has refused to speak to the media but a party spokesperson confirmed for the CBC that he is no longer a Conservative candidate.

Ala Buzreba, Calgary-Nose Hill, Alta.

Ala Buzreba, 21, the Liberal candidate for Calgary-Nose Hill, was forced to withdraw from the election race on Aug. 18 after offensive tweets she sent as a teenager came back to haunt her. In one tweet, Buzreba told someone she is arguing with to “go blow your brains out you waste of sperm” and in another she told a vocal supporter of Israel that “your mother should have used that coat hanger.”

When confronted with the postings, Buzreba apologized unreservedly and said the tweets did not reflect her current views. She withdrew her candidacy the same day.

Morgan Wheeldon, Kings-Hants, N.S.

The NDP candidate for Kings-Hant, Morgan Wheeldon, was the first to drop out of the race after a comment he made about Israel on Facebook in August 2014 was unearthed and used in a Conservative attack ad against him.

Wheeldon’s now-deleted post said in part: “One could argue that Israel’s intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region — there are direct quotations proving this to be the case. Guess we just sweep that under the rug.”

Wheeldon said the Facebook post was a small part of a larger conversation and the comments did not accurately portray his views. He resigned shortly after it was made public.

With files from Elianna Lev