VANCOUVER - The start gate opened for the two main parties in British Columbia's election campaign Tuesday, but the New Democrat Party was immediately tripped up over Internet postings by one of its candidates.
In the hour before the official election call Tuesday, the Liberal party sent out a news release calling for the resignation of the Kelowna-Mission NDP candidate over several racially-charged Internet postings involving compensation for First Nations.
New Democratic leader Adrian Dix quickly accepted the resignation of Dayleen Van Ryswyk just hours into the campaign, saying the comments were "unacceptable."
The issue dogged Dix at his first official campaign event outside the Museum of Anthropology and then later at his own Kingsway campaign office.
Dix said he only learned of the comments Tuesday morning and immediately asked for her resignation.
"It's unfortunate. Of course candidates are vetted and this was missed, and it's unfortunate. We expect people to do better," Dix told reporters in a question and answer session that was dominated by the issue.
"I consider these remarks particularly serious and I disagree with them strongly and took immediate action," Dix said.
On the 2009 forum, a user named Dayleen wrote in a thread entitled "Strip Them of the Status Card."
“It’s not the status cards, it’s the fact that we have been paying out of the nose for generations for something that isn’t our doing. If their ancestors sold out too cheaply, it’s not my fault and I shouldn't have to be paying for any mistake or whatever you want to call it from MY hard-earned money.”
Another one of the posts compares the benefits afforded to aboriginal people with claims other persecuted groups could be making.
"I don't think anyone is saying that wrongs didn't happen (incredible wrongs). You could have almost any race, group or ethnic people tell you horrible haunting stories of what happened to them. If someone did me wrong, it's my right to sue ... as it is everyone else's.
"Again, how many Jewish, Polish, Russian, Dutch, etc. walked into a gas chamber, were gunned down, raped, tortured and starved to death. . . tell me how many Germans do you know that are handing over a (portion) of their paycheck EVERY month for what happened NOT very long ago. . . "
Dix said a new NDP candidate for Kelowna-Mission will be announced soon.
"Things happen. There are 85 candidates," Dix said matter-of-factly. "I expect the vetting process to be tight. In this case we're going to find an outstanding new candidate in Kelowna-Mission and we're going to run hard there."
When asked about the issue, Premier Christy Clark said she had heard about the comments, but hadn't read them.
"From what I understand, it's really disgraceful that someone would offer those kinds of comments publicly and then think that they should run for public office. I think it is unacceptable."
The riding is held by Forests Minister Steve Thomson, who won handily in 2009.
Dix's first campaign event was held in Clark's home riding of Vancouver Point Grey where in 2011 the premier narrowly defeated NDP candidate David Eby in a by-election.
Flanked by Eby on his left and a small contingent of supporters behind him, Dix seemed nervous delivering his first campaign speech of the election.
"We will be presenting a platform that we are very proud of day-by-day in the first week of the campaign so that we can highlight the key challenges facing British Columbians," Dix said.
As Dix was speaking, Clark went to visit the lieutenant governor to ask for the current government to end and the election campaign to begin.
She launched her campaign with a rally in Victoria, calling the vote the "most important election in modern history."
She said voters have a choice between controlling spending and lowering debt or higher taxes and bigger debt and government.
Clark said business owners in B.C. will also have to decide if the NDP is right for them.
"When you look at the new taxes that the NDP is proposing for natural gas, given that the market is pretty volatile, it's highly questionable whether that business case would still work."