It's election season in Nova Scotia and you know what that means: aspiring politicians having their dreams destroyed by dumb shit they posted online.
So far, three candidates have been hoisted by their own shitposting petards in this month's election. The latest is PC candidate Jad Crnogorac, whose sins against good taste included a scorching hot take on the injustice of never seeing a white person nominated for a Black Entertainment Television award and a bland and horrifying date rape joke.
Previously, Liberal Matthew MacKnight was also turfed when a gripe he made on Twitter in 2013 calling annoying customers "stupid" and "#downsyndrome" started making the rounds online. Bill McEwen was dumped by the NDP after someone found a cached archive of an old website where McEwen dispensed gems of wisdom like "ovulation: man's best friend" and "in a world of breast implants, fast food, and cheap beer, what's not to love about being a man." You can't even delete your terrible jokes now because the internet never forgets.
All of this stuff is terrible in both content and delivery. But realistically it's only a tiny fraction of the absolutely horrible things people think, say, and do to each other out of public view—Crngorac heard that rape joke from a co-worker, after all. There but for the grace of God and a sliver of self-awareness goes you and I. (Although it definitely helps that Twitter and Facebook didn't exist during my adolescent shithead phase.)
It doesn't help, either, that forgiveness for youthful and/or drunken indiscretion is in short supply. In last year's Manitoba election, 40 percent of respondents said that a pristine social media history was very important to voters. This should send a chill down the spine of anyone under the age of 40 who might ever, for any reason, find themselves involved in a political campaign. Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
That said, if you are going to self-immolate your political candidacy on social media, you may as well go big or go home. You are standing on the shoulders of giants. Let's take a quick look back at the greatest own goals of aspiring politicians online.
Nick Steinburg (Liberal, Ontario election 2014)
Steinburg's offense was Tweeting: "Oh that's just my two-days-after-leg-day swagger. You know how we do. Cashin' cheques. Mackin' on ladies. And havin' trouble with stairs." It didn't cost him his candidacy but he was forced to delete it and apologize and I would be lying if I said I haven't spent three years thinking about this tweet on a nearly daily basis and how the line "mackin' on ladies" was a minor scandal in provincial politics.
Ala Buzreba (Liberal, federal election 2015)
When Buzreba was a teenager, she got mad online and instructed one guy she was arguing with to kill himself and expressed wishes that another could have received a retroactive coathanger abortion. If she'd made those posts in 2016 instead of 2011, she could be president now instead of resigning in disgrace.
Dana Larsen (NDP, federal election 2008)
Larsen was forced to withdraw as a candidate in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding after videos emerged of him dropping acid and smoking weed, because it is illegal for politicians to be cool.
Alex Johnstone (NDP, federal election 2015)
Alex Johnstone didn't know what Auschwitz was, despite going to the death camp in 2008 and taking a selfie next to the electric fence.
Tina Olivero (PC, Newfoundland and Labrador election 2015)
Olivero took a lot of heat for going on social media and suggesting that "self-awareness" could help cure cancer. Technically that's not why she dropped out of the race, but I mention it only because in a hilariously ironic bout of non-self-awareness, her withdrawal came shortly afterwards when it was later revealed that she'd been ordered by a court in 2014 to pay $23,000 in back wages to a domestic worker.
Gilles Guibord (Conservative, federal election 2015)
Guibord liked to go on the comments section on Journal de Montreal articles and write posts about how the Quebecois have stronger land claims than the Mohawk, that First Nations need to suck it up if they don't want to assimilate, and that men's dominance over women is just a biological fact.
VirJiny Provost (BQ, federal election 2015)
When someone on ask.fm asked Provost what three things she'd need to survive a nuclear holocaust, she answered: her phone, a dick, and lots of chips. Seems pretty reasonable to me.
Alan Saldhana (Green, federal election 2011)
For some reason, at some moment in time, Saldhana was moved to go on Facebook and post "if rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it!" Who can truly know the hearts of men?
Shawn Dearn (Tom Mulcair's communications director, federal election 2015)
Not technically a candidate, but in 2010 Dearn hopped on Twitter and told the Pope to go fuck himself. Honestly I have no idea why he didn't get a promotion because holy shit what a power move.
Deborah Drever (NDP, Alberta provincial election 2015)
Drever is weirdly lucky insofar as her social media past didn't come back to haunt her until after she was swept into office on Orange wave. But, oh man. First there was the photo of her posing next to a shirt with a weed leaf on it, which was scandalous for Calgary maybe but for no one else. Then there was the photo of her flipping off the Canadian flag, which, OK. Then it came out that she had posed on the front cover of a metal album miming being sexually assaulted by a bottle and that she'd gone on Instagram to write "gay boyz" underneath a picture of Jim Prentice (RIP) and Ric McIver. This culminated in Rachel Notley suspending Drever from caucus. But the silver lining here is that Drever took her role as legislator seriously and, sitting as an Independent, wound up sponsoring a private member's bill that would make it easier for domestic violence victims to flee abuse. The bill got the unanimous support of the Alberta legislature and Drever was welcomed back into the NDP caucus in 2016. It's a great story, actually. You can fuck up catastrophically but still come back out of it as long as you're ready to grow up.
Jerry Bance (Conservative, federal election 2015)
Nothing will ever top the guy who decided to piss in a coffee cup in someone's kitchen while being filmed for an episode of Marketplace. It's sublime. They better be using that footage in the Canada 150 material.
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