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The campaign’s first candidate controversy

With the sudden start of the election campaign having forced scrambles to fill nominations, it was only a matter of time until some poorly-vetted candidate embarrassed his or her party. And on Saturday, we got our first such story.

In what must have been a fairly easy bit of opposition research, the provincial Tories dug up some rather unfortunate Facebook post by Jack Uppal – the newly-minted Liberal candidate in the Ottawa-area riding of Nepean-Carleton –  riffing on the differences  between the brainpower of men and women. Among other insights, it offered that while women are better than men at learning languages and at detecting lies, they can’t “find solutions to problems” and don’t have the capacity to read maps.

Mr. Uppal is a classic example of the sort of candidate who tends to cause grief for a party. Not only is he running in a riding where the Liberals don’t have much chance of winning, meaning their candidate search was probably a bit haphazard to begin with; per the Ottawa Citizen’s David Reevely, he had to step in last minute under unusual circumstances.

This little episode is hardly likely to rank among the campaign’s big stories. As a general rule, candidate eruptions tend to only do real damage when they reinforce some negative perception of the party they’re running for. And whatever the other knocks on Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, sexism isn’t usually one of them.

That might explain why the Liberals are aiming to just brush it off. Their official line seems to be that the post in question (which was actually a re-post of someone else’s words) came before he was a candidate and he’s now taken it down and apologized, so it’s case closed.

Still, it’s a little surprising they haven’t moved to replace Mr. Uppal with someone else, if only because they’re personally offended by what he posted. And if nothing else, that would make it easier for them to make hay when a candidate from another party inevitably gets into hot water for something or other.

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