The Conservative campaign was forced to shed two Toronto-area candidates Monday for distasteful behaviour, just as leader Stephen Harper began another swing through the important electoral region.
First, Scarborough-Rouge Park candidate Jerry Bance was dropped after embarrassing hidden-camera video of him came to light. The CBC series Marketplace, doing a program on home repair people, captured Mr. Bance in 2012 urinating in a homeowner's coffee cup. A statement from Mr. Bance released by the Conservative campaign Sunday night said he "deeply regrets" his actions on the day he was caught on the hidden cameras.
Then, the campaign confirmed that Toronto-Danforth candidate and former actor Tim Dutaud was the same man who appeared in a handful of YouTube videos as the "Unicaller." In one of the videos, he crank calls a woman, and claims to have an erection that won't go away because of Viagra. He ends the call by feigning an orgasm. In another video, the man crank calls the ETR highway toll company, posing as a mentally disabled person. The videos were first highlighted by the "Some Random Political" blog. A message sent to Mr. Dutaud's campaign was not returned.
"We expect the highest standards of our candidates, and that's why these individuals are no longer candidates," Mr. Harper said at an event in Toronto.
The revelation that the caller was Mr. Dutaud came on the same day Mr. Harper announced the government would increase the maximum annual Canada Disability Savings Grant for low- and middle-class families from $3,500 to $4,000.
Mr. Dutaud would have had a slim chance of winning his downtown Toronto riding, but Mr. Bance might have had a better shot in the newly created suburban riding where he won the candidacy.
The NDP and Liberal campaigns have also lost candidates over controversial actions and comments. Former Nova Scotia NDP candidate Morgan Wheeldon was removed as a candidate after writing in a 2014 Facebook post that Israel was trying to "ethnically cleanse the region." Liberal candidate Ala Buzreba of Calgary resigned after abusive tweets from 2009-12 surfaced.
In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois criticized Conservative candidate Mohammad Zamir, who spoke in garbled French during two interviews with La Presse Canadienne. His unilingual English website, which has since been taken down, said he spoke "elementary" French.
Mr. Harper is focusing the first part of this week in the Greater Toronto Area, a region that helped the party form a majority government in 2011. Labour Day also signals a new chapter of the campaign, with Canadians back to work and theoretically paying more attention to federal politics.
The disability savings grant was an idea brought to fruition by the late finance minister Jim Flaherty, father of a disabled son. The program allows relatives of Canadians with disabilities to help save for their needs in the future.
Last year, the Senate's banking committee pointed to legal and administrative hurdles in the program that prevent some Canadians from applying. It also said the program needs to be better advertised, with only 15 per cent of 500,000 eligible Canadians having applied at the time of the committee's report.
"It's working well, but we believe it can be even better," Mr. Harper said.
"We will also work with the provinces, territories and Canada's financial institutions to improve the administration of the RDSP program and to expand the range of options for RDSP holders."