NDP candidate sorry, embarrassed for recorded phone conversation calling voters 'stupid'

NDP candidate sorry, embarrassed for recorded phone conversation calling voters 'stupid'

A past recording of an angry call made by New Democrat Party candidate Cheryl Hardcastle is making the rounds on social media — and Hardcastle is apologizing for the things she said.

A 40-minute call, which was recorded without Hardcastle's knowledge, surfaced online, posted by the True North Centre for Public Policy, a right-wing media organization. . 

"That was an emotional time for me ... there were some things I was going through," said Hardcastle.

The call took place shortly after the 2014 municipal election, when Hardcastle lost the mayoral race for Tecumseh mayor. In the audio recording, which has been edited, Hardcastle can be heard calling Tecumseh voters "stupid" and saying Tecumseh residents "drank his Koolaid" about then-incumbent Gary McNamara.

"They just drank his Kool-aid, or you just ate his pablum, or whatever want to call it, you just don't think! You bought into his f***ing little show… like I just can't believe people are that stupid," Hardcastle can be heard saying on the tape.

Hardcastle apologized for the call Thursday when asked about it resurfacing.

"You can't explain that away ... but those were times ... I was going through stuff with my dad, no sleep. I'm not making excuses," said Hardcastle. 

According to Hardcastle, the person she was speaking to on the tape also did not know the call was being recorded. 

"I am wholeheartedly sorry about it," said Hardcastle Thursday. "I'm embarrassed at myself for doing that."

'We had to get it out there'

Someone sent the audio to the Windsor-Tecumseh Conservatives Association — the local group for the provincial party — and Facebook page administrator Scott Duquette said he knew he immediately had to post it.

"I was flabbergasted," said Duquette, who listened to the audio a few times. "The type of language that was used ... we had to get it out there."

"Gary's a pig, a media hog. He's manipulated other guys that ... endorse him because they need to be big shots. It's so wrong on so many levels I can't even..." - Cheryl Hardcastle, 2014 audio recording

Duquette said the group felt they had a "responsibility" to post it, even though it was clear it was from 2015 and that it was recorded without Hardcastle's knowledge. 

"It's disappointing to lose ... as Conservatives locally we're used to that," said Duquette. "But we don't say 'Well you're stupid.' The voters made their choice."

According to Duquette, he'd be just as "shocked and disgusted" if a Conservative, Liberal or Green candidate said something similar. 

Duquette said Hardcastle should have apologized in 2015, when she first knew about the existence of the recording. 

"That would have been the right thing to do," said Duquette. "She should have issued a statement with 'I said things I regret' or that kind of thing. Now it's going to have a worse effect."

Hardcastle said she hopes she can just keep moving forward, adding that she doesn't understand the motivation. 

'Would have been nice' to receive direct apology

"I have good work ethic. I keep my head in my work and that's what I do," said Hardcastle, who said she apologized to the individuals who were directly named in the call. 

But Gary McNamara, who Hardcastle called a "pig," and a "media hog," said Hardcastle didn't apologize directly — not in 2014 and not in the last 24 hours since the tape has resurfaced.

"I wish she would have apologized to me face-to-face, but that never materialized," said McNamara. "It's a disappointment."

Amy Dodge/CBC

McNamara said it "would have been nice" for not only him, but for the other names mentioned, to receive face-to-face apologies. Instead, he was never approached by Hardcastle. 

"It's unfortunate folks would say things that are difficult to take back ... at the end of the day it's out there," said McNamara, adding that it's important to lose elections gracefully — and win humbly. 

McNamara said he always goes with "the electorate always right."

Hardcastle was close to tears when issuing Thursday's apology.

"There's more I can be doing," said Hardcastle. "I have to keep proving myself."