N.S. Progressive Conservatives remove candidate due to controversial social media posts
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017 3:29PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 17, 2017 12:54PM ADT
Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative Party says it has removed one of its candidates from the election campaign due to her social media posts.
In a news release, the party says Jad Crnogorac has been removed as its candidate for Dartmouth South, effective immediately.
CTV News brought a series of tweets to the attention of the PC Party Tuesday afternoon.
The party announced shortly after that it was dropping Crnogorac “as a consequence of social media posts.”
In one tweet, Crnogorac laughs at a colleague's joke comparing female Viagra to a roofie. In another, she says she is boycotting the Black Entertainment Television Awards because "not one white person was nominated."
"There is no context where I would have found this acceptable," said PC Leader Jamie Baillie of her tweets. "We're not looking for perfection, but there is a line, and joking about date rape crosses that line."
Crnogorac tells CTV News she was not offered an opportunity to explain herself to the party.
“I was basically called (Tuesday) afternoon and … they read out my three tweets, and said basically ‘I think we’re going to have to remove you from the ticket, we’ll call you right back,’” Crnogorac said.
Crnogorac believes women in politics are held to a higher standard than men.
“Jamie (Baillie) made this big statement that he stands behind all women that run in his campaigns and his ridings. I haven’t seen any of that,” said Crnogorac.
Crnogorac says she is being treated differently than fellow PC candidate Matt Whitman.
“Both Matt and I said things maybe we didn’t mean or came out in the wrong context, and neither one of us meant to be malicious,” said Crnogorac. “Matt had the conversation with Jamie and the office of why he did the things he did and had the chance to apologize. That didn’t happen with me.”
Since nominations are now closed, the PC Party cannot replace Crnogorac. While Crnogorac has been removed from the campaign, Elections Nova Scotia says the Elections Act doesn’t allow candidates to withdraw from the race after nominations have closed, so her name will remain on the ballot.
Crnogorac is the third candidate to leave the race due to inappropriate comments posted online.
NDP candidate resigns over sexist comments posted online
On Monday, Dartmouth East New Democrat Bill McEwen resigned after admitting to publishing sexist content to a website he hosted, and using rude language to describe people who are gay.
McEwen started a website in 2011 called The Bullpen, which states it is an online magazine for men and not women. It goes on to say, “In a world of breast implants, fast food, and cheap beer, what's not to love about being a man?”
The website was made to celebrate being a man and “mock the d-bags of this world.”
McEwen issued a statement Monday night saying he would be resigning from his position immediately.
“I apologize for my past actions and believe that I must be accountable to my community and the residents of Dartmouth East for inappropriate statements I made and supported in the past,” he said.
McEwen also acknowledged some Facebook posts from 2012 and 2013, in which he uses offensive slang to describe people who are gay.
“I am very, very sorry about that,” said McEwen. “I know that this is a really terrible thing to have published and I apologize to everyone affected by it. The misogynistic stuff, the stuff about the LGBTQ communities, I am very supportive of equal rights and so that was really poor judgment.”
McEwen says he took down the website because he was uncomfortable with the content. He admits he deleted the Facebook comments.
NDP Leader Gary Burrill responded Tuesday, saying the comments were unacceptable.
"All manner of systemic disregard and disrespect is unacceptable in our society, and is something that no one should ever engage in," said Burrill.
McEwen’s candidate profile says he is a former naval officer, award-winning journalist, and is professional.
Since nominations are now closed, the NDP cannot replace McEwen. This leaves Dartmouth East with Liberal candidate Edgar Burns and PC candidate Tim Halman. Independent Andrew Younger withdrew earlier.
While McEwen has resigned from the campaign, Elections Nova Scotia says the Elections Act doesn’t allow candidates to withdraw from the race after nominations have closed, so his name will remain on the ballot.
Liberal candidate dropped over controversial tweets
Matthew MacKnight, the former Liberal candidate for Pictou East, was ousted last week over comments he made on social media in 2013.
MacKnight issued a statement saying he takes full responsibility for the tweets and didn't intend for them to be derogatory or hurtful.
MacKnight apologized to two groups that represent people with Down syndrome, saying "it was an immature comment" that was not meant to be malicious.
"I cannot believe I made such comments. I have grown, and matured as a person since that incident," MacKnight said in the statement.
Since MacKnight was dropped from the campaign before nominations closed, the Liberals were able to nominate John Fraser as their new candidate for Pictou East.
Vetting candidates in the age of social media
With each party losing a candidate over controversial social media posts, the leaders admit it's becoming more difficult to vet candidates in the age of social media.
"We take it very seriously, we give it a lot of effort, but it's like a lot of things," said Burrill. "Sometimes your best effort doesn't accomplish the goal."
"As a candidate you need to be prepared to lay out what it is that potentially may be a problem for you," said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Sarah Ritchie, Kelland Sundahl, and The Canadian Press