TORONTO (Reuters) -- One candidate had to drop out after video footage emerged showing him peeing in a cup, another hid in bushes in camouflage to catch vandals defacing his signs, while a third slew a dragon in his campaign video.
It may have been one of the longest federal election campaigns in Canadian history, but it certainly hasn’t been the dullest. For those who delight in the embarrassing revelation, the unexpected intervention and the truly bizarre, it has been a campaign to savor.
Canada has not lacked for political farce in recent years: The drunken and often clumsy antics of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine, gave comedians in North America plenty of material when he was in office 2010-14. Indeed, one of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s last campaign appearances before Monday’s election was alongside Rob and his brother Doug Ford at a rally in Toronto.
"It's an embarrassment of riches for comedians," Steve Patterson, a Toronto comedian and radio host, said. "It's been hard to keep track" of all the mischief, he added.
Numerous fringe parties who run candidates have long been a source of amusement in Canadian politics. Take the seven-candidate Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, which wants to give animals a political voice, or the satirical Rhinoceros Party, which has entertained the electorate for more than 50 years and is running in 28 seats -- it wants to repeal the laws of gravity and let children vote.
Unsurprisingly, social media revelations ended the hopes of several candidates, even if some were based on behavior well before they sought to embark on political careers.
Since calling the election Aug. 2, the ruling Conservatives have ditched eight candidates for various gaffes; the left-of-center Liberals, who are leading in the polls, have dumped five; and the left-leaning New Democratic Party has lost another two, according to punditsguide.ca, an online database of federal election statistics.
But it was old-fashioned undercover footage from three years ago that forced Jerry Bance, an appliance repairman, to leave the race. The Conservative candidate was filmed by a consumer watchdog TV show peeing in a mug during a home visit to repair a leaky sink and then dumping the contents into the sink while only partially washing the mug.
In his attention-grabbing campaign ad that went viral online, an independent candidate in rural British Columbia, Wyatt Scott, rode a Canada goose, slew a dragon and fist-bumped an alien, all while outlining his views on the high cost of college and calling for expanded social services and more support for Canada's aboriginal people.
In rural Yukon, Conservative MP Ryan Leef staged a late-night vigil dressed in camouflage to catch a troublemaker who was defacing his campaign posters. The former Mountie performed a citizen’s arrest, pushing voter Carrie Boles to the ground and handcuffing her before the police turned up.
Hair had a starring role in the campaign. The Conservative's dominant attack ad targeted well-coiffed Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as not ready to lead, ending with a dismissive “nice hair, though” line. Trudeau at 43 is much younger than his two main opponents -- Harper is 56 and NDP leader Tom Mulcair 60 -- and doesn’t appear to have their graying issues.
The issue drew in Canada's biggest literary star, Margaret Atwood, who waded into "#hairgate" in a national newspaper column, pointing out it is the prime minister, not well-maned rival Trudeau, who campaigns with a hair stylist in tow.
On the eve of the election, the Liberals returned to the theme with a cartoon ad titled “Your Guide to Canadian Political Hair” that stressed that it doesn’t matter what hairstyle Trudeau has, his platform would be the same.
The Conservatives tried other ways to suggest that Trudeau may be too inexperienced to govern. Harper’s spokesman, Kory Teneycke, even told the Canadian Press in an interview before one leaders’ debate that if Trudeau “comes on stage with his pants on, he will probably exceed expectations.”
Supporters also got their 15 minutes of fame. An elderly Conservative made headlines and caused a Twitter storm as he launched an expletive-filled rant at TV reporters grilling Harper.
And a man in a bathrobe became an enduring mystery after he popped up during a controversy at a private Toronto men’s club. Finance Minister Joe Oliver had just canceled a speech at the club after a furor about its exclusion of women from membership, and Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland was speaking to reporters in the club’s foyer, when Bathrobe Guy suddenly appeared in the club’s foyer in the midst of it all and hovered for the cameras. He has never been identified.
But it was an intervention from the U.S. that perhaps made many Canadians of different political persuasions smile, after then Republican contender for his party's presidential nomination, Scott Walker, suggested it might be “legitimate” to discuss building a wall to separate the U.S. and Canada.
"He must not know we’re good hoppers," tweeted one Canadian, who posted a picture of ice hockey icon Wayne Gretzky jumping over the boards around the rink and onto the ice.