Facebook posting forces B.C. Liberal candidate to resign

Oct 1, 2015 | News

Eric Wickham

Another federal election candidate has resigned over a controversial post on their social media account.

Cheryl Thomas, the Liberal candidate for the riding of Victoria, resigned Wednesday night after comments on her Facebook page were brought to light.

Thomas has become the latest individual in the Oct. 19 federal election to resign over controversial social media posts, and the second Liberal candidate to drop out this week.

In her controversial Facebook posts, Thomas made comments about Islam and Judaism.

Thomas released a statement on her Liberal Party web page announcing her resignation, she also apologized to the Muslim and Jewish communities for her insensitive statements.

“As someone who worked in the Middle East and interacted with the various communities, I know firsthand [sic] that my comments were inappropriate,” Thomas said in her statement.

“The last thing I want to do is distract from the incredible work Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada are undertaking,” she said.

Humber News reporter Nick Beare compiled a list of candidates who have resigned or have been removed in the 2015 federal election.

Thomas’ resignation is the second from the Liberal party this week after candidate Maria Manna dropped out of the election on Tuesday.

Manna, the candidate for the riding of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, resigned after making controversial posts about 9/11. Manna was replaced by Luke Krayenhoff.

Social media has played a large role in a number of resignations and removals of candidates in this election.

Wilfrid Laurier University sociology professor Andrew Herman said he isn’t surprised by the amount of candidates dropping out over controversial statements, and added that it was inevitable.

“Everything you say on social media is in the public domain,” Herman said, who is in the process of writing a book on digital media.

However, he added it is surprising that political parties didn’t heavily scrutinize their candidates’ social media profiles after the first round of controversies.

According to Herman, the string of dropouts in this election will lead to changes to the political parties’ candidate vetting process because a similar performance in the next election would be too costly in terms of party reputation.

Aspiring politicians are not the only ones feeling the heat over past comments on social media. Employers are increasingly assessing the social media accounts of potential hires.

Melissa Whetstone, senior social media editor at The Globe and Mail, said a potential employee can scare off an employer with their social media history.

But there is also the chance to impress employers.

“Because social media is such an important tool for journalists, we look at job candidates’ accounts to get a sense of how they use it to find story sources, promote their work or the work of others, and how they present themselves in general,” Whetstone said.