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Hours into election, B.C. NDP candidate leaves race over offensive comments

Former B.C. NDP candidate Dayleen Van Ryswyk posted a video to YouTube in 2011 to promote her candidacy for Kelowna city council.

YouTube screen capture

NDP Leader Adrian Dix hit a bump on the campaign trail Tuesday, when he found himself asking for a candidate's resignation over comments she posted online.

While the resignation of Kelowna-Mission candidate Dayleen Van Ryswyk – which came mere hours into the first day of campaigning – shows flaws in the NDP's vetting process, it is not likely to have a significant impact on election results, said veteran political observer Norman Ruff.

"Although people have been talking about an NDP victory provincewide, this was one of the ridings that is expected to remain Liberal," he said. "You've got a strong Liberal base and a very competent minister [Steve Thomson] – it was on my list of [ridings] that could well be retained."

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The B.C. Liberals publicized the comments, attributing them to Ms. Van Ryswyk, through a press release Tuesday morning.

The released material included several entries, dating back to 2009, that referred to native and language issues and had been posted on a community news site.

In an exchange headed "strip them of the Status Card," Ms. Van Ryswyk wrote: "I'm not given a free ride, I work very hard for everything I have and 40 per cent of it goes to taxes.

"This native handout isn't from the government … it's from the overworked callused hand of every single TAX paying person in this country," the post continued. "The government is nothing more than a big black hole that feeds off the working man."

In another post, she complained about French in the Olympic Games. "I'm getting so sick of having French stuffed down my throat. This isn't Quebec, it's western Canada. We speak English here, so does the majority of Canada. I'm offended that the French is spoken first."

Ms. Van Ryswyk did not respond to requests for comment. Her campaign website described her as a business owner and entrepreneur based in Kelowna.

Mr. Dix said he asked for Ms. Van Ryswyk's resignation after learning of her remarks.

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"She immediately accepted. It's unfortunate. Of course candidates are vetted and this was missed and it's unfortunate," he told reporters.

The NDP Leader said he found the remarks "unacceptable." He said the party would soon find a new candidate in Kelowna-Mission. Nominations close on April 26.

The Liberals won Kelowna Mission by 5,940 votes in 2009. Mr. Thomson, the Forests Minister before dissolution, is seeking re-election.

The abrupt departure of Ms. Van Ryswyk from the race is likely to redouble campaign workers' efforts to scour social networking sites and other forums for any material that could compromise a party or candidate.

It is not unusual for such material to emerge.

Ray Lam withdrew as a provincial NDP candidate in the 2009 election over photos he had posted on Facebook, including shots of him in his underwear.

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Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal withdrew as a candidate in Surrey-Panorama Ridge in February after reports that he was facing tax charges.

The biggest impact of Ms. Van Ryswyk's resignation is likely in its timing: on the first day of the campaign, Mr. Ruff said, adding that he did not think it would become a defining issue.

"In the long run, no I don't think so – but it did rain on [Mr. Dix's] parade."

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About the Authors
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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