Victoria Liberal candidate withdraws from campaign

Professor says political parties need to do more checking of candidates' 'digital footprints'

Cheryl Thomas resigned as the Liberal candidate for Victoria as a result of previous comments on social media.

The dangers of past actions by federal candidates on social media hit the South Island last week as two Liberal candidates dropped in a matter of days.

Victoria Liberal candidate Cheryl Thomas dropped out on Sept. 30 after it was learned of previous Facebook comments that called mosques brainwashing stations, among other comments.

Thomas’ withdrawal came just two days after another Liberal, Maria Manna, pulled out of the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford race. Manna backed out as a series comments linked her to skeptics questioning the truth of the 9-11 World Trade Center attacks.

Social media as an Achilles’ heel is nothing new for candidates, but this election has raised questions about vetting the candidates, says Michael Prince, the Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at University of Victoria.

“Traditionally parties had questionnaires for candidates and they would be screened, it wasn’t unlike a job application,” Prince said. “Obviously parties need to do a greater checking of [candidates’] digital footprints.”

Maclean’s magazine, among others, have credited Montreal-based blogger Robert Jago’s site,  Rjjago.wordpress.com, for ending the campaigns of three Conservative candidates to date: Tim Dutaud (Toronto–Danforth), Blair Dale (Newfoundland) and Gilles Guibord (Montreal).

Prince said it’s worth remembering incidents where the past has come back to haunt a politician predates the Internet.

“There’s always been the risk of past coming back to haunt but now with millions on social media and so many comments, the risk is higher.”

This campaign is a learning process now that political parties have a better understanding of social media and how to use it as a positive tool for campaigning.

“It also means parties are learning about the darker side of social media,” Prince said.

“What’s surprising is that none of the parties were ahead of these issues. In most cases the parties have been caught flat footed and it hit them in the face.”

The joke, Prince says, is if you’re 10 years old and you have any aspiration of serving in public, get off social media now.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Garth Homer Society in Saanich turns lemons into lemonade with online programs

Victoria disability organization sets up online programs and learning tools in wake of COVID-19

Human behaviour likely to deter birds from Esquimalt Lagoon, survey suggests

More Great Blue Herons spotted, fewer mallard ducks seen

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

PHOTOS: A morning in a physically-distanced Victoria

Residents commute in a pandemic-changed city

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read