Robert Jago calls himself a nobody. But the 39-year-old education professional based in Montreal has made his mark on the Canadian election circuit for uncovering the controversial online antics of some candidates running for the ruling Conservative party and writing about them on his blog — getting some of them fired in the process.
First, there was Gilles Guibord, a Montreal candidate who was fired after Jago posted what he felt were racist and sexist messages Guibord made in the comments section of a local news outlet. Then, Tim Dutaud, who was dropped from the ticket after Jago — once a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party — uncovered a 2009 Youtube video of him prank calling a woman to talk about his prolonged erection. And this week, the Conservatives booted out Newfoundland's Blair Dale after comments he made about abortion and race on sites such as Facebook and OkCupid were chronicled in one of Jago's posts.
Digging through a candidate's past for dirt is by no means new — and Canadian candidates from opposing parties with troubling digital footprints aren't safe either. But after getting three candidates fired, and with plans to release damning information about more once his hard drive is repaired next week, Jago says he's making progress on his goal of getting the Conservatives out of power in federal election in October.
It might sound like a lot of work, but Jago told VICE News it's easy to find dicey things candidates say online if you look in the right places. "I found all that information about Tim Dutaud in 10 minutes," he said.
"I go through the Conservative website," Jago explained. "If there's no Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter associated with a candidate, then I look at that candidate … Because that person is probably colorful. I can also look at a candidate's photo, and sometimes they'll just seem like somebody that you wouldn't want your daughter dating, somebody you wouldn't want to work with. Somebody who seems kind of like a douchebag."
He says he keeps an eye out for three red flags: comments about women's issues, First Nations issues, and LGBT rights. Once he sees comments about those topics, he will dig deeper. "Usually if you go onto someone's social media and they're really opinionated, that's when you should look at it some more."
When Jago, who describes himself as a "type of libertarian called a 'liberal-tarian,'" talks about why he does this, he reminisces about the lost glory days of the Conservative Party, which he voted for in the last three elections.
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Jago says he isn't necessarily trying to get these candidates fired through his work, and he's miffed the Conservatives fired Dale. He expressed his frustration in a blogpost on Tuesday, saying: "If the Conservative Party fired this guy…that's on them, that's a condemnation of them — not of Blair Dale. That guy has said some douchey stuff, but he's well within the spectrum of mainstream Conservative opinion."
Jago says this experience has forced him to re-evaluate the blog's purpose, and he'll now focus more on encouraging Canadians to vote, and recruiting volunteers to write for him for a new website called Meet the Harper Gang.
"We're going to show that this party has none of the experience, none of the maturity anymore," he said. "I don't want to say they're all idiots though … but so many of them aren't quality people."
Follow Rachel Browne on Twitter: @rp_browne