Election Candidates Failing The Google Test

The Calgary Herald ran an article discussing the “Google gotcha” – federal election candidates that have resigned or faced heat over “controversial” content found about them on the Web.

One Toronto blogger rightly reasoned young candidates in urban ridings would be the most Internet-savvy and most likely to have an electronic trail. His hunch was right. He caught Ryan Warawa, a B.C. candidate who once posted blogs supporting the legalization of marijuana and prostitution. It wouldn’t be a problem if he was a Green or NDP candidate, but he’s a Conservative and his comments don’t exactly reflect party policy. So it’s a problem. The jury is still out on Warawa.

In contrast, the knife fell quickly on a Toronto Conservative candidate who used his blog to blame bus passengers for not intervening to stop the beheading of a fellow passenger, saying “this is where socialism has gotten us folks, a castrated effeminate population.” Not a great campaign slogan; so he’s now gone.

+3 mainstream media points for the phrase “once posted blogs”.

Candidates from all parties have been effected. Here on the west coast, NDP candidates Dana Larsen and Kirk Tousaw resigned after online videos surfaced showing them smoking cannabis. This should come as no surprise given their histories in pro-cannabis advocacy. It’s unfortunate that they, or any candidate, are being judged on a single act instead of the sum of their character. The trick, it seems, is to get elected first; see BC Premier Gordon Campbell’s DUI.

The Internet gives us great power to learn about people and their histories, but nitpicking their every action is unproductive to the political process. How can a candidate be “down to earth” and “in touch with the people” while living the puritanical life necessary to pass these Google litmus tests? If you eliminate any candidate with a less than perfect record, who’s left? Liars and Cylons.

The Canadian Federal Election runs October 14, 2008. Elections Canada will tell you all you need to know about register