Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne was caught off guard Tuesday about what New Democrats charge is a sexist social media post by a third Liberal candidate, this time in London West.
Nick Steinburg, a former constituency assistant to retired energy minister Chris Bentley who represented the riding for a decade, posted the tweet on Feb. 10 talking about “mackin’ on ladies.”
“Inappropriate comments, whatever party they come from, are inappropriate comments and they need to be dealt with,” Wynne told reporters.
“In the two instances I’m aware of, our candidates have apologized, they’ve retracted, taken down the posts and I’ve had the opportunity to talk to them and I know their apologies are sincere.”
She was referring to a Facebook post from a Niagara-area candidate, showing the pinup-style picture of a woman in skimpy lingerie who supposedly does leg squats, and an Ottawa-area candidate who posted an item saying women talk without thinking and men can’t multi-task.
Steinburg’s tweet read: “Oh that’s just my two-days-after-leg-day swagger. You know how we do. Cashin’ cheques. Mackin’ on ladies. And havin’ trouble with stairs.”
In his Twitter bio, Steinburg describes himself as “Handsome. Charming. Brilliant. Modest.”
The Internet-based Urban Dictionary describes mackin’ as “to work it with a member of the opposite sex . . . to hit on, flirt with or seduce a female by using verbal or sometimes physical means of persuasion.”
Liberal campaign officials said the “leg day” referred to a fitness rotation where legs are worked out.
A spokeswoman for Steinburg’s campaign said he sent the tweet in question long before being nominated as the Liberal candidate last Thursday and closed that Twitter account two weeks ago.
“It wasn’t tweeted on his campaign account,” said Julie Misener. “Nick doesn’t think that sexism or sexual harassment is humorous in any way.”
Steinburg has not heard from Wynne on the issue, she added in a telephone interview.
The tweet was flagged by the New Democrat campaign, which is fighting to hold London West after the NDP’s Peggy Sattler wrested it away from the Liberals in a byelection last August.
“The Liberals are desperate and lowering their standards to backing candidates who comment on social media about harassing women,” the New Democrats charged in a statement.
Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli (North Bay) said the Liberals are in a “scramble to find candidates . . . and they’re not vetted properly.”
Wynne said she doesn’t need to go further to discipline candidates who have stepped out of line.
“As the first female premier I’ve spent my life dealing with, from time to time, inappropriateness in society. . . . The fact is there are comments that are made and should not be made. If there’s corrective action taken, that’s as it should be.”
She added that all parties must be “more vigilant than 40 years ago” because of social media.
“Things go out into the universe much more quickly than days gone by.”
Last July, Progressive Conservative candidate Wayne Wettlaufer in Kitchener-Centre was criticized for a tweet taking shots at women.
“Is that why so many females vote Liberal? They get all their information from the Toronto Star (less informed).”
That tweet was quickly retracted.