BURNABY, B.C. – They say a picture is worth a thousand words but sometimes it amounts to just one: Oops.
B.C. New Democrat Leader Carole James said one of the party’s candidates for the British Columbia provincial election showed a “lack of judgment” by posting racy photos on his private Facebook page.
But the reality in this of this age of new media is that nothing stays private any more, James said Monday.
“Certainly it shows a lack of judgment and he made the decision to step down. He didn’t want it to distract from the campaign, so we’re moving on,” the NDP leader said as she campaigned in the Vancouver region.
“Certainly no one likes to lose a candidate and have them step down during a campaign but that’s politics.”
Ray Lam dropped out of the race for the Vancouver-False Creek riding in the May 12 election, after the photos became public on the weekend.
One photo shows Lam with his hand on a woman’s clothed breast and another shows him in his underwear, with two people tugging at them.
“An issue was made regarding inappropriate material on my private Facebook page,” Lam said in an email statement Sunday night. “I regret this material and the associated comments that have now become public.”
It’s his age, James told reporters.Lam is in his 20s, but she couldn’t be more specific.
She said the party vetted candidates’ social networking pages, but this one was private and available only to Lam’s “friends” on the site – or so he thought.
“It’s a reality of the new media. It’ll be interesting to watch politics over the next 10 to 15 years, when you have an entire generation of young people who’ve grown up with their lives public on Facebook and on Twitter. It’ll be very interesting to see how that shifts,” James said.
She said candidates were warned ahead of time that such material or controversies could be used to embarrass them in a campaign.
“I think it’s a reminder for all candidates of all political parties that when you become a public figure, everything becomes public,” she told reporters.
Poor online etiquette and embarrassing blasts from the past have become increasingly fair game in the election ring.
Last fall’s federal election had its share of casualties across the political spectrum – several of them from British Columbia and several of them representing the federal New Democrats.
Dana Larsen, a Vancouver-area candidate for the federal NDP, resigned over an online video showing him dropping LSD and his link to a business that sold seeds for the coca plant, and NDP hopeful Kirk Tousaw stepped down in his Vancouver-area riding after an online video appeared to show him smoking pot.
Julian West, a federal NDP candidate on Vancouver Island, retreated from the race following allegations that he’d stripped in front of minors to go skinny-dipping at an environmental retreat 12 years earlier, while Andrew McKeever, an Ontario candidate, dropped out after online postings came to light in which he used obscenities to refer to a woman and threatened to beat up a critic.
But the New Democrats were not alone.
Federal Conservative candidate Rosamond Luke stepped down in Nova Scotia just ahead of revelations of a past criminal record, and Chris Reid, the Tory candidate running against Liberal Bob Rae in downtown Toronto, dropped out over his online musings about gays, women, guns and the Greyhound bus beheading.
Last but not least, Liberal candidate Simon Bedard quit in Quebec over an 18-year-old statement that the military should move to clean out native protesters during the Oka crisis, even if the action resulted in up to 125 deaths, and fellow Liberal hopeful Ricardo Lopez stepped down in Beauharnois-Salaberry over comments he made about aboriginals.
James said the party will find another candidate for the May 12 provincial election. The deadline for getting another name on the ballot is the end of the week.
The new riding of Vancouver-False Creek is a riding where the New Democrats could be considered the front runners. It’s made up of the Vancouver-Fairview and Vancouver-Burrard ridings, where the NDP handily defeated the Liberals in byelections last fall. Prior to that, Vancouver-Fairview was held by the New Democrats and Vancouver-Burrard by the Liberals.