Mayoral candidate Rob Norris was iin damage-control mode Monday, after a post on his campaign Facebook page Halloween night listed incumbent Charlie Clark’s “spooky record” which included a reference to “terrifying treatment of female Remai Modern board members.”
At a news conference on Nov. 2, Norris told reporters that he had intended to use the time to make an announcement about Remembrance Day, but instead had to forgo that plan and respond to the Facebook post which Clark called libelous and said "crossed a line."
Norris would not explicitly apologize, but instead Norris said he offers his “heartfelt regrets,” to his mayoral opponent.
“I regret that this social media post occurred. It occurred in my name although I didn’t know about it or didn’t authorize it and I regret that deeply. I regret any harm or any hurt that’s come to Charlie Clark,” Norris told reporters.
Norris said that one of his campaign staff, Dale Richardson, director of campaign operations, was responsible for the post and is taking some time off as a result.
Norris said, he will be contacting Clark regarding the post, but had not done so yet.
"In the context of the #MeToo movement, to make this kind of libelous claim in a Halloween joke post, shows a reckless treatment of a very serious issue and significant questionable judgement,” Clark said in a statment Sunday night.
Clark was elected as mayor in 2016 and is seeking re-election.
Norris is a former Saskatchewan Party MLA. Throughout his campaign, Norris has criticized Clark for being too passive during his term.
Political Science professor from University of Saskatchewan Greg Poelzer, said this type of negative campaign speech does not go over well with the Saskatchewan electorate, like it would in other places.
“Saskatchewan has a rural sensibility about how you talk about your neighbour,” Polezer told CTV News.
He said, Norris might have gotten away with that Facebook comment “in Ontario or even applauded for it in Alberta or B.C. but not Saskatchewan.”
Poelzer cautioned against making comments publicly that “you say in a backroom and all campaigns do that, (but) are probably not the best language or thoughts to put out publicly.”
Poelzer said Norris’s best play is to acknowledge the mistake, retract it and apologize. He adds, that voters will be the jury on this issue.
Election day is Nov. 9.