Liberal candidate Chris Brown apologizes for offensive booze-fuelled tweets
Alberta candidate blames grief, anger over losing partner in drunk driving accident
Brown, a candidate in the Alberta riding of Peace River-Westlock, issued a statement Thursday apologizing for his social media misdeeds, calling his remarks "inappropriate" and acknowledging they do not reflect the level of professionalism expected of those running for office.
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The December 2009 tweets used language including "whore" and "f--king bitch." In his statement, Brown said he had lost his partner that same year.
"This was an extremely difficult time for me personally and something I do not wish upon anyone. This emotional anguish led to an alcohol dependency problem and a complete lack of judgment when posting on social media," he said.
Brown went on to say that with the support of family and friends, he has moved on with his life.
Asked about Brown's posts at a campaign event in Vancouver earlier today, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he was considering his next steps and that the candidate had been going through "some extremely difficult personal circumstances."
Brown's Twitter site has been taken down, but screen shots of the tweets are still making the rounds on social media.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau">@JustinTrudeau</a> also standing by <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LPC?src=hash">#LPC</a> candidate Chris Brown. Said he was going thru a difficult phase <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/elxn42?src=hash">#elxn42</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CPC?src=hash">#CPC</a> <a href="http://t.co/cZWucPmfMk">pic.twitter.com/cZWucPmfMk</a>—@mw_wolf
Trudeau was also asked about another Liberal candidate in hot water over pro-pot comments on her Facebook feed.
He said the views of B.C. Liberal candidate Joy Davies promoting the merits of marijuana do not reflect official party policy or his personal beliefs.
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In 2013, Davies, who's running under the Liberal banner in the B.C. riding of South Surrey-White Rock, commented on Facebook that marijuana reduces family violence and that growing it in a home poses no harm to children. She also wrote that the Canadian Cancer Society is "another outlet for big pharma."
Trudeau said Liberal policy would be to control and regulate marijuana, because right now it is in the hands of organized criminals, street gangs and gun-runners. It has also become far too accessible for young Canadians, he said.
Conservative campaign spokesman Stephen Lecce said the Liberal legalization plan would put the health and safety of children and communities at risk.
"These most recent comments further prove that Justin's No. 1 priority is legalizing marijuana," he said, referring to the Liberal leader.
The two Liberal candidates are the latest in a growing list of potential politicians exposed for past indiscretions on social media. Political operatives and average Canadians have dredged up plenty of questionable comments from the past as a tool to discredit current candidates.
Associate professor Andrea Perrella, director of the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy at Wilfrid Laurier University, said scouring social media to dig up dirty laundry has become a vital weapon in elections.
Campaign is 'a bit like war'
"As they say, all is fair in love and war — and a campaign is a bit like war," he told CBC News. "It's not always polite to be exploiting these weaknesses in your adversaries, but everyone does it, so it's something you have to use as well. There's not an easy defence against it."
Each party has vetting processes to screen candidates, but some background searches don't turn up all the potentially damaging material. Usually, the goal of bringing it to light is not to discredit the individual candidate, but to damage the party brand, he said.