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Conservative candidate's Twitter remarks lead to firing

Ian Tootill, an MLA candidate for the Vancouver False-Creek riding, has been ousted from the BC Conservative roster.

Party leader John Cummins condemned Tootill in a press release today for "unacceptable comments" that "will not be tolerated by the BC Conservative party."

Tootill's removal follows an article in the Vancouver Sun published yesterday, revealing that the candidate made off-colour comments on his Twitter account about women, Hitler and drugs.

According to party spokesperson Jaclyn Laic, the BC Conservatives have a "zero-tolerance" policy for offensive comments.

"The first time these comments came to light and drew our attention, at the first moment we discovered these comments, he was dismissed. Had we found these comments earlier he would have been dismissed earlier," says Laic.

The Hitler remark came about when Tootill engaged another Twitter user in a discussion over the motivation of suicide victims. Tootill argued that "words do not kill." He then posed the question, "Who's really to blame? Hitler or the people who acted on his words?"

In another Twitter exchange, Tootill responded to the question "What does 'slut' mean, anyway?" His answer: "I don't know but we men love sluts..."

Tootill also conversed on multiple occasions about marijuana laws. He wrote, "Call me simplistic but I agree with Ron Paul. Drugs should be legalized. All drugs, not just pot. No slope then."

Mere hours before his dismissal, Tootill -- a prolific Twitter user -- had been promoting an all-candidates' forum at Vancouver's Creekside Community Centre, where he intended to make an appearance tonight.

In response to his firing, Tootill tweeted, "In heat of an election campaign it's difficult 4 subtleties 2 be discussed. I do not agree with BCCP [BC Conservative Party] decision but I accept it."

In the Vancouver Sun article, Tootill says he did not delete the offending Twitter remarks because he did not want to hide anything from his constituency. He also claims he told the BC Conservatives of his "edgy sense of humour" while being vetted for candidacy.

In an earlier Tyee report on the announcement of Tootill's candidacy, Tootill described himself as a fiscal conservative, and socially liberal.

"In a nutshell, I believe we should be empowered to pursue our business and personal lives without fear of heavy-handed government," he told a crowd of people gathered at the March announcement.

Aside from his MLA campaign, Tootill also is known for co-founding the advocacy group SENSE BC, which promotes road safety issues. He also has run an investor relations firm since 2007.

Allison Griner is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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