As we start Day 6 of the 43rd General Election, an early on-going theme has been the problems that some campaigns are having with the vetting of their candidates, and their histories that keep pouring out. And really folks, there’s been a lot of them, more than usual, which is a bit surprising in this age of tight candidate vetting. The two parties that have taken the biggest hits on this front have been the Conservatives and the Greens, both for the candidates themselves but also because of their responses to the concerns raised about these candidates.
From the Greens, their response from leader Elizabeth May has been to say that she “has no power” to punish, boot or whip any candidate or MP she may end up with. That line of reasoning entered the absurd when her party claimed that the unity of the nation was not a “value” of the party, therefore they couldn’t possibly do anything about any sovereigntists running for them. Candidate Pierre Nantel has said multiple times in this campaign that he is a sovereigntist, to which Elizabeth May said he wasn’t. Then finally she said tried to say that “sovereigntist” and “separatist” were not the same thing, which got rightly ridiculed. The Greens have also been dealing with a lot of other candidate issues too, around a woman’s right to choose, to even if climate change is a real thing.
As a result, many commentators have pointed out that the Greens are managing to blow the chance of a generation to do better, seemingly all of their own devices. And if you thought that the candidate issues were done for the Green team, well folks, it seems like there’s more out there that is coming to the surface. Everyone, meet Kevin Nichols, Green candidate in the Manitoba riding of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingly:
Wow, look at that trifecta of insanity from Mr. Nichols. He’s been sharing 9/11 Truther information, which would make him the second Green to allegedly be in the Truther boat, joining Green MP Paul Manly, who after his May election was exposed for his past comments on the matter. But that’s not all folks. Mr. Nichols also shared conspiracy theories on social media about fluoride, linking it to Nazi death camps. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also shared conspiracy theories about the moon landing on social media too. That’s a lot of wackiness there folks, he’s on the Green Team in southwest Winnipeg. Gotta wonder if this candidate will get the boot but given the current track record of the Greens on this so far, it’s not a guarantee they will.
But if that were all from the weekend, Conservative Andrew Scheer did his best to step up to the plate on this matter. On Saturday news came out about the Conservatives candidate in Kanata-Carlton and her relationship with none other than Faith Goldy, about an hour before Mr. Scheer was due to do a public even with said candidate. Needless to say, that was quite the surprise for them that day and well, the reaction of the candidate herself to this was breathtakingly bad, something that led the news all weekend:
Yeah, that was bad. Note that the car sped away even before she got the door closed. They were high tailing it out of there with no delay, a terrible look for sure and something that I guarantee brought a smile to the faces of the Liberal Opposition Research team who found this. It couldn’t have gone much better for them. But for the Conservatives, it’s become clear they’ve got a big problem when it comes to the steady stream of candidate vetting issues and unsavoury pasts of candidates pouring out. They had to do something, and for them, that turned into a mid-flight press conference where he said that as long as a candidate apologized for their past transgressions, that’s all the Mr. Scheer cared about. So in his mind, as long as someone said their sorry, no matter how bad what they said or did, he was going to let them stay on.
It’s a position one could take, not a good one in my view, but if they were consistent about it and stuck to their word, it could have potentially worked. But after the media got that lacklustre new line from Scheer, it obviously got some people thinking about how such a policy would be applied. And to that, we got one very sharp question from a member of the media who asked this question, which brought about this exchange:
Wow, way to blow up your own standard Andrew Scheer. Remember Scheer made his own offensive comments about same-sex marriage and he’s never apologized for those, yet he’s leading the flipping party. So when offered the chance to abide by his own standard, live on national TV, to put this all to bed, he refused, ducked and dodged, not once, but twice. Folks, it doesn’t get much more hypocritical or ham-fisted than that. Not only now does it call the whole fairness of their candidate vetting into question, he again refused to apologize for what he said back then, which gives that issue new life and makes people openly wonder why in the heck he won’t apologize. It gives doubts about Scheer life and allows them to keep going, ensuring that the concerns of some about the influence of social conservatives in his party will not go away at all. It looks like he’s trying to hide something, and that looks bad.
In both of these cases, we’ve seen two parties seriously thrown off their games by issues of candidate vetting gone wrong and completely inconsistent or nonsensical answers to those legitimate questions. Both the Greens and the Conservatives are managing to torpedo their own campaigns in a way that other parties could only dream to do, and if they continue down this path, they will be undone by their own hands. And in both cases, we see leaders in Scheer and May who seem to be unwilling or unable to apologize or publicly accept that they have messed up, which is creating hubris of its own. There is a way out of this mess for both parties, but neither has seemed to be willing to do what it would take for that to happen. That would involve some real contrition and ability to admit to their own mistakes. And probably until they do that, these issues will continue to undo their campaigns and help the other parties around them.