Yellow journalism and the perils of social media

In election season, history is coming back to haunt candidates from all political stripes.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, you’re proven wrong.

Such is the case with this federal election and the news coming out of Ontario that Jerry Bance, a Conservative candidate, was filmed peeing into a coffee mug in someone’s kitchen during a CBC investigative report on contractors overcharging homeowners for repairs.

Now that’s yellow journalism.

The report in question was filmed in 2012, but is only now coming into the national spotlight  because Bance is running in the election.

One can only imagine the conversation inside party headquarters when the story broke.

Q: “He was filmed peeing into a coffee cup in someone’s kitchen?”

A: “Uh huh.”

Q: “He couldn’t make it to the bathroom?”

A: “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

It’s the strangest piece of election news I’ve heard in a long time, unless we include everything Donald Trump has said during this current American presidential race, but that’s a column for another issue.

Bance, of course, was dropped like a hot potato by the Conservative Party, but not before offering this mea culpa: “The footage from that day does not reflect who I am as a professional or a person. I deeply regret my actions on that day.”

It’s good PR to grovel and apologize for something like that, but what everyone wants is an explanation or excuse for that kind of behaviour.

Because really, what was he thinking?

It’s been a bad week for the Conservative Party, which also dumped Tim Dutaud, another Ontario candidate who was outed for making crass prank calls and uploading them to Youtube.

His material included faking an orgasm while speaking to a female sales rep, while other calls featured him making fun of people with disabilities.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the party to toss him from the ticket.

However, it’s not fair to bag on just the Conservative Party, as candidates from across the political spectrum have put their foot in their mouths to embarrass their respective parties.

A Liberal candidate in Calgary stepped down after some offensive material was found on her Twitter social media account. Without getting into too much detail, her tweets included encouraging someone to commit suicide, while another tweet insulted someone else by noting that their “mother should’ve used that coat hanger.”

The candidate, 21-year-old Ala Buzreba, tried to use her youth as justification, saying that some of the tweets were published when she was a teenager, but eventually, she quit.

Over in Atlantic Canada, NDP candidate Morgan Wheeldon resigned as a party nominee in Nova Scotia after a Facebook post accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing became public.

On one hand, you wonder how these kind of people get nominated by their respective parties, but on the other hand—to play devil’s advocate—how far back into the lives of potential candidates to party screeners have to go? How many tweets and Facebook posts do party staffers have to vet?

It’s easy to post something stupid on social media and regret it. It happens all the time and those kind of controversies are basically expected now in today’s elections.

But getting caught on video peeing into a customer’s coffee cup in a private residence?

It’s tough to flush something like that away.


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