Note: This story contains language that some may consider offensive and which may not be appropriate for all ages.
William Archer, one of six People’s Party of Canada candidates in Nova Scotia, has a message for anyone digging around on his social media.
“If people are offended I’m sorry they’re offended, but I am who I am and that’s how it’s going to be at the end of the day,” said Archer, the candidate for Cumberland-Colchester. “I’m not going to sell myself out to get elected.”
Among posts promoting his party’s platform and small-c conservative ideas, Archer’s personal Facebook page is filled with memes and jokes — mostly shared from other pages — that many would find off-colour at best, and downright offensive at worst.
One post from late 2016 tells a joke about a man who learns his wife just had quintuplets. He says to the nurse he isn’t surprised because his penis is “the size of a chimney,” and the nurse responds that he ought to clean it because his children are black. In another post from 2014 titled “Irish virginity test,” a man (who is described as a “little person”) is instructed to paint his genitals blue and red on his wedding night and if his new wife is surprised to hit her with a shovel. Other posts make light of mental illness and violence against women, joke about drinking and driving, and use terms to describe people with disabilities that are no longer deemed socially acceptable.
But Archer, a chief electrician who oversees a large international crew, says he has friends around the globe, and insists the posts were all shared in jest and were not meant to be offensive.
“I grew up in the Archie Bunker era ... when I post jokes, I’m not being ill-willed, I’m just sharing something I found kinda humorous,” he said.
“I’m not going to sit here and claim to be politically correct in everything I say or do.”
“If the party deems me unfit and they ask me to step aside I'll be fully willing to step aside.”
- William Archer, People’s Party of Canada candidate for Cumberland-Colchester
The term “politically correct” has become a bit of a buzz phrase in the current political landscape and even appears in the People’s Party of Canada platform on freedom of expression, which reads: “What some people find politically incorrect, offensive or even hateful cannot serve as the legal basis for discrimination and censorship. Canadians should be able to enjoy maximum freedom of conscience and expression as guaranteed in Section 2 of the Charter.”
Even with such a strong stance on free speech, the sheer number of candidates that have had their careers tanked by past social media antics in recent elections leads Cape Breton University political science professor Tom Urbaniak to wonder why Maxime Bernier’s party isn’t putting more effort into vetting its candidates.
“The party is trying to explicitly appeal to an undercurrent ... in the Canadian political universe of people who have sort of checked themselves out of mainstream politics and thrive on conspiracy theories and xenophobia, so on one hand, it’s not surprising the party would be a magnet for candidates like this,” Urbaniak said. “You would still think that in order to present a respectable facade they would have put in some sort of infrastructure for rudimentary screening.”
Urbaniak said it’s likely that the party doesn’t have any expectation to win seats in Nova Scotia this time around, and is probably trying to ramp up the candidate count with whoever is interested so they can go into the campaign with a full slate.
“A lot of these people are placeholders but there is definitely a moral obligation to screen these placeholders,” he said, adding that this sort of “highly inappropriate, racist, sexist and hateful discourse” has no place in the mainstream of Canadian politics.
“The track records and public statements of some of these candidates are utterly discrediting the party as a serious contender in the upcoming election,” Urbaniak said.
Archer, who has run provincially for the Atlantica party in the past, said he was screened. He said he was asked to hand over his social media info to the PPC before he was accepted as a candidate.
“If they found something they deemed was offensive, then I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “If the party deems me unfit and they ask me to step aside I’ll be fully willing to step aside.”
No one from the People’s Party of Canada responded to SaltWire’s request for comment by deadline.