A Conservative candidate in Nova Scotia is under scrutiny for telling a young voter on Facebook to "gain some experience in life" before engaging in political discussions after the voter pressed him on how his party would improve the economy and protect the environment.
A Sept. 27 post on the Facebook page of Robert Strickland, the Conservative candidate for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, highlighted his party's plan for low taxes, a balanced budget and steady growth.
Mitchell Van Oosten, 22, a Carleton University engineering student originally from Fall River, N.S., responded to the post by asking how the Conservatives would promote growth in a recession while balancing the budget.
Following a back and forth, a post from Strickland's Facebook account said Van Oosten should complete his degree before discussing Conservative stances on the economy, environment and foreign aid.
"Well Mitchell, from my perspective which spans residency in 3 countries, work in 5 countries including 8 provinces of Canada and 22 states in the US... I will wait for you to gain some experience in life. Please respond when you have a tenure higher than 1 year at any one employer and perhaps have completed a degree rather than talking about starting one," the comment said.
In a statement to CBC News, Strickland said he did not make the comments and attributed them to a staffer.
"Due to the busy nature of campaigning, I rely on my volunteers to help with various tasks, including doing my social media," the statement said.
"One of my volunteers mistakenly posted a comment that was not in my own words and not accurate."
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The Facebook post was originally deleted and replaced with one in which Strickland said he believes Canada is the best country in which to raise a family, educate children and become prosperous.
"I encourage you to travel the world and gain the experience that will be so valued upon your return to this great country we both call home," said the post.
On Thursday, the exchange with Van Oosten was deleted from Strickland's Facebook wall.
'It's no wonder we have so many disillusioned voters'
Van Oosten says Strickland's explanation of who wrote the original post is irrelevant.
"I think as voters, we are voting not only for the candidates, but, unfortunately or fortunately, we're voting for whatever staff members they may have and also for their ability to manage their staff members," he said.
Van Oosten said the idea that people need to be university educated or have world experience to ask questions is not right.
"It's no wonder we have so many disillusioned voters, and especially young voters," he said.
Van Oosten is currently in Australia for a year and will soon begin a co-op work experience as part of his studies. He hopes to then do a Master's degree in Europe.
The Facebook conversation has generated a lot of chatter online, with people blasting Strickland for the comments.
@pmharper who made the decision to let this Robert Strickland guy into the party?— @3BeanSoup