The provincial New Democrats new interim leader never publicly announced that she thought dissident MLA Jenny Kwan should resign. But she certainly seemed to "like" that idea on Facebook. In December, after infighting prompted party leader Carole James to resign, Dawn Black expressed her support for several comments on the social networking site endorsing a call for Ms. Kwan to step down. Her union executive son David got that online conversation started when he told Facebook friends he had phoned-in to CKNW host Bill Good's talk show and spoke about why Ms. Kwan needed to resign.
A number of individuals wrote-in to express their support for that resignation, with one of them stating, "I totally agree with you...Jenny needs to go" and another adding, "There is no way Kwan can sit in the caucus room and ever be trusted." In an interview, Ms. Black refused to comment on why she "liked" those supporting entries or even confirm she had personally done so.
"We're two months away from that. We're together unanimously. And I don't want to go back in history. I want to go forward together with my caucus colleagues," she explained.
Nor would Ms. Black say whether she thought Ms. Kwan should resign or the dissidents should be punished - a question she also dodged in January after opposition caucus members unanimously recommended her to be the party's interim leader.
"That's in the hands of the party," she said. "I'm in a position as interim leader. My goal is to the set the table, in any way I can in a more positive way for the new leader coming in on April 17."
But Ms. Black acknowledged the incident is reminder of "social media being accessible to everybody. And people should be cognisant that that's one of the reasons we have some criteria within the NDP around social media and the leadership candidates now" - a reference to a screening process that now requires those handover the passwords and usernames of their social media accounts so the party can review them.
Indeed, David Brodie - a social media expert with Optimum West Public Relations - agreed Ms. Black's experience is a "cautionary tale," reminding him of the controversy that ensued in 2007 when then Republican presidential nomination candidate Rudy Giuliani's daughter joined a Facebook group supporting Democrat Barack Obama.
"I don't think someone should be held accountable for something their son says online or something their daughter says online," Mr. Brodie, a former advisor to Prime Minister Paul Martin, said. "However, in this case, (Ms. Black) chose to weigh-in and heap-on in comments like that. And it does demonstrate some pretty poor judgment, obviously."
Mr. Brodie said, in the age of social media, politicians need to be aware that what they do online "will be interpreted in a broader sense that just commenting on something their son has said on their own personal Facebook page."
Nevertheless, for her part, Ms. Kwan stated, "Clearly, people had points of view during that period and they're entitled to those points of view. What matters now is forward going - in terms of where we're at."