LANGLEY, B.C. - The campaign manager for the B.C. Liberal candidate in a Langley riding has quit a week before the election, saying he was marginalized because he's gay.
But incumbent Liberal MLA Mary Polak said she became aware that information about her campaign had been leaked to the rival campaign.
"It had to do with campaign strategy," Polak said, adding she wouldn't disclose anything further.
Polak said she spoke to her manager, Todd Hauptman, early Tuesday about his friendship with someone in the NDP camp, but she still wanted him to work for her and that the two were to meet later in the day to discuss how they could move forward with her campaign.
"We were going to have to figure out how to address that to ensure we could all trust one another around the table," she said of Hauptman's "ongoing relationship" with the NDP staffer.
Instead, Polak heard a media report about Hauptman's resignation. He later issued an open letter saying the issue had to do with his homosexuality.
"I have had enough of being marginalized and I am tired of politicians making endless excuses for political gain," he said in the letter.
"While I can say without hesitation that Mary has always shown me respect and love, and was a source of strength and encouragement when I came out, I have been conflicted beyond words these past few weeks," he said.
"You see, the very base of voters who will likely help Mary get re-elected in just one week's time are made up of individuals who hold hateful attitudes towards the community I am a part of."
Polak said the matter stems from the NDP staffer Hauptman is involved with asking her a question at an all-candidates debate about the Surrey School District's stance against three specific same-sex books being used at an elementary school while she was on the board in the 1990s.
"He thought that my answer should have been more fulsome. I talked to him about that and said that I tried to give the best answer I could in one minute for a really complicated issue," she said of the matter that ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Polak said she tried to discuss the issue with the man after the meeting but he wasn't interested and that she later learned he worked for the NDP and that Hauptman had a friendship with him.
Polak said she doesn't believe Hauptman had any malicious intent toward her but that he was influenced by the NDP employee who took advantage of her campaign manager's inexperience.
"I'm speculating," she said. "The way that this has unfolded, it's unlike Todd. He's not a malicious or mean person at all."'
Hauptman, 26, became involved in local politics at age 14.
Polak said she has known Hauptman for 10 years and supported him when he came out several years ago despite the teachings of her Catholic religion, which considers homosexuality a sin.
"I consider him my friend and this is one of the more difficult days in your political life when your friendships are impacted by politics."
-- by Camille Bains in Vancouver
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