HALIFAX — Inappropriate, sexist and homophobic language left lingering on the Internet has been exacting a toll on the list of political hopefuls in Nova Scotia's election, with a third candidate forced to withdraw Tuesday.
The Tories sent out a terse news release Tuesday afternoon announcing that their candidate for Dartmouth South, Jad Crnogorac, was being dropped because of her social media postings.
Her tweets included an off-colour joke about a date rape drug referred to as "roofies," and a comment that white people not winning Black Entertainment Television awards is an example of "inequality."
Crnogorac is the third candidate to be dropped over web postings — each major party has lost one candidate — but she was the first to resist going quietly.
She posted a social media response apologizing for her comments, but said she'd been let down by party leader Jamie Baillie for failing to give her the same support as Matt Whitman — a Tory candidate who faced criticism over a YouTube video that was earlier condemned for racial stereotyping.
"This is an opportunity to point out the double standard that women face in (the) professional world and particularly ... in politics," she wrote.
"I ... gave them (the party) full access to my online footprint. I hope this will serve as a chance for them to re-examine their vetting process so they are able to find perfect candidates in the future."
She also said she had declined the party's offer to resign, and said, "I have been treated unfairly and what they have done is wrong."
The withdrawal came a day after CTV News published excerpts from the Bullpen website of Dartmouth East candidate Bill McEwen, a youthful prospect for the NDP in a riding that appeared to be a hard-fought contest.
The former military officer and journalist had attempted to take the website down — after not posting on it since 2013 — but someone managed to find it from a cached archive.
In addition to derogatory terms for gay people, the opening statement of the site's mission noted, "in a world of breast implants, fast food and cheap beer, what's not to love about being a man."
It claims to have been designed to help people with columns that have topics ranging from "booze to boobs."
The content included a number of columns on sexual topics with titles such as "ovulation: man's best friend," and "forbidden fruit."
McEwen submitted his resignation — though under election rules his name will still appear on the ballot, as will Crnogorac's.
McEwen said he is supportive of equal rights and apologized for what he called misogynistic comments that reflect poor judgement.
On Tuesday, each of the party leaders were discussing vetting procedures and longing for a world where people were more upfront about their social media activities when applying to run.
NDP Leader Gary Burrill said his party — which is the only one in the May 30 election to have gender balance in its slate — was upset to discover comments it considered to be contrary to the NDP's basic principles.
He said somehow the website's content slipped by party checking systems.
"We take candidate vetting very seriously. We give it a lot of effort. But it's like a lot of things, your best effort doesn't accomplish the goal," he said.
The Liberals are also still smarting from the loss of one of their candidates, with the comments discovered on Twitter.
Nova Scotia Liberal candidate Matthew MacKnight was dropped over comments he made on social media in 2013. The Pictou East candidate purportedly called someone an expletive and used the hashtags #downsyndrome and #stupidcustomers on May 28, 2013, according to Global News.
Premier Stephen McNeil said that when the Liberals vet candidates the campaign team looks back at the social media accounts and talks to members of the community about their background.
If there are problems on social media accounts, the best thing is for potential candidates to be honest about it prior to offering as a candidate, he said.
"People need to be up front about it. ...If it's something that's inappropriate and the person has actually made amends for it I don't think anyone thinks you should be punished your entire life," he said.
"As a candidate you need to be prepared to lay out what may have been a problem for you."
McNeil said all Nova Scotians need to be more careful in their online behaviour.
"You have a human responsibility to be kinder and gentler to each other," he said.
Earlier in the day, Baillie said all parties struggle with how to handle revelations about past activity, but that the party has a thorough vetting process.
He said he would have evaluate each case individually to determine if something was a fireable offence and if there was malicious intent.
"I think it's important for parties to get a good feel for the values and the viewpoints of their candidates they're putting on their team and I believe all parties are struggling to do that as best they can," he said.