Politics

Candidates' gaffes start to add up after 3 weeks of campaigning

Here are some slips and indiscretions by federal candidates three weeks into this election campaign.
Mistakes made by federal candidates in this election campaign can throw party leaders off message. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, left, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have all had candidates who have found themselves in hot water in this campaign. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Every federal election campaign counts its share of candidates who land their party in hot water for some reason or another and so far, Canada's longest campaign in modern history is no different.

After three weeks of campaigning, several candidates are no longer running after comments they made over social media have come back to haunt them.

Others have switched allegiances after embarrassing their party, while others still have the confidence of their party despite a faux pas.

Here are some examples of mistakes made by candidates in this election campaign.

The Conservatives and Liberals both lost a candidate last week after improper comments they made online in years past came back to hurt them.

Gilles Guibord is no longer running as a Conservative candidate in Montreal after a blogger dug up sexist and racist comments he made in the comments section of various newspapers. Ala Buzreba, a Liberal candidate in Calgary, decided to pull out of the race hours after she apologized for offensive comments she made on social media when she was a teenager.

The Green Party was also caught off guard by a candidate who decided to back the New Democrats.

The Green party's Peterborough-Kawartha Electoral District Association in Ontario said on Monday it will not support Gary Beamish's decision to withdraw and endorse the NDP nominee.

The association apologized for any confusion Beamish's move may have caused supporters in the central Ontario riding and said it is considering options and plans to discuss the next steps with local members.

The newspaper Peterborough This Week recently reported that Beamish was planning to drop out of the race after being formally nominated. The paper said he would advise constituents to vote for the NDP candidate instead of splitting the vote by supporting him.

While the Green Party may have lost a candidate, it also gained one after the NDP's Jose Nunez-Melo became embroiled in a dispute with the party and crossed over to the Greens instead.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Nunez-Melo will run under the Green banner in the new suburban Montreal riding of Vimy.

Liberal candidate broke spending laws

A Liberal candidate admitted he broke election spending laws during his fight to win a bitterly contested nomination battle in the Toronto-area riding of Mississauga-Lakeshore.

In a compliance agreement struck with the commissioner of elections, Sven Spengemann admited he personally paid for some campaign expenses, which legally should have been paid only by his financial agent.

Spengemann admitted he wound up donating $4,255 to his own nomination campaign — almost twice the legal limit of $2,200.

Under the terms of the compliance agreement, published in the Canada Gazette last week, Spengemann has agreed to solicit legal contributions to cover his excess donation and to pay that money to the receiver general.

He has also agreed to file with Elections Canada an updated nomination financial return, reflecting all his campaign expenses and contributions.

A compliance agreement is a commonly used method of dealing with infractions of election laws; it does not constitute a criminal conviction or create a criminal record.

Elections commissioner Yves Cote's office investigated Spengemann's nomination expenses after receiving a complaint from Paul Szabo, the former Liberal MP for the riding who had backed a rival candidate for the nomination.

Szabo said allowing Spengemann to sign a compliance agreement makes a mockery of Canada's election laws.

"By not declaring the expenses he gave himself an unfair advantage over other candidates and he only won by 19 votes," Szabo said.

He urged Spengemann to "do the honourable thing" and step aside as the candidate. He noted that other candidates have stepped aside for lesser offences, including inappropriate tweets posted years ago.

The NDP's official candidate in the Nova Scotia riding of Kings-Hants resigned after controversial comments he allegedly made about the Middle East on Facebook appeared as a screen grab being circulated by the Conservative Party.

Morgan Wheeldon said he was the victim of a "shameful and dishonest" smear campaign and that the excerpt circulated on social media was taken out of context.

The Conservative candidate in the Montreal riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Wiliam Moughrabi, came under scrutiny this week after some sexist and violent posts he'd made to his Facebook account before he became a candidate came to light. He deleted the posts and closed his Facebook account. 

Linda McQuaig, one of the NDP's more prominent candidates, stirred up controversy after saying on a CBC Power & Politics panel that for Canada to meet its climate change targets, "a lot of the oilsands oil may have to stay in the ground."

There are 54 more days of campaigning to go.

With files from CBC News

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