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Vancouver NDP candidate steps down over racy photos

New Democrat in Vancouver-False Creek riding says he regrets 'inappropriate material' posted on his Facebook account

WENDY STUECK

From Monday's Globe and Mail

April 19, 2009 at 11:51 PM EDT

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia New Democratic Party candidate has stepped down to stem a controversy over racy photos posted on his Facebook account.

“An issue was made regarding inappropriate material on my private Facebook page,†Ray Lam, NDP candidate for Vancouver False-Creek, said Sunday night in a statement.

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“I regret this material and the associated comments that have now become public.

“I do not want this to be a distraction in the election campaign and have advised the party that I am stepping down.â€

NDP president Jeff Fox said the party would nominate a new candidate in the next few days.

The photos were posted Sunday on media websites after being spotted on Mr. Lam's Facebook account.

By late Sunday, the photos were no longer posted on the social-networking site.

In one, a smiling man tagged as Mr. Lam hugs a woman in a low-cut dress, his hand on her breast.

In another, the same man is with friends, his pants pulled down to display his underwear.

Mr. Lam's website says that he has a background in social services and non-profit groups.

Mr. Lam has been involved for several years with the Pride Society, a Vancouver-based advocacy group for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. According to a Pride Society web site, Mr. Lam has been involved in several community organizations and was chair of Youthquest, Lesbian & Gay Youth Society of British Columbia.

A 2008 article in Xtra, a gay-focused Vancouver newspaper, said Mr. Lam, as a director of Egale Canada, had been involved in key court cases involving gay rights.

Mr. Lam made an unsuccessful bid for city council last year, but failed to win nomination as a Vision Vancouver candidate.

In the run-up to the nomination votes for the civic race, Mr. Lam told Xtra that he wanted to focus on youth and environmental issues, as well as gay and lesbian concerns.

“I have a lot of ideas around sustainability and youth,†he told the newspaper at the time. “I don't want to be branded as the gay councillor.â€

In his bid for provincial office, the racy photos on Mr. Lam's Facebook page quickly became political fodder.

“This is someone who is running to represent the people of Vancouver-False Creek in Victoria, at a time when we have really critical issues, like crime and the economy,†said Mary McNeil, the Liberal candidate in the riding.

“You need to show you have experience and you need to show you have good judgment.â€

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are essential campaign tools, especially in a riding with a relatively young population like Vancouver-False Creek, she added.

Online material has tripped up other political candidates in B.C.

Vancouver-area Federal NDP candidates Dana Larsen and Kirk Tousaw resigned last year after online videos surfaced that showed them taking drugs.

B.C. New Democrat Julian West also quit the federal campaign after apologizing for taking off his clothes in front of minors at an environmental retreat more than a decade before.

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