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BC Lib sites show candidates distancing from party, Conservatives charge

Some BC Liberal candidates don't want to be associated with their party or its leader -- at least that's what the provincial Conservatives are reading into their websites' design.

In a press release Sunday, the Conservatives wrote: "Some candidates wishing to win have built upon the BC Liberals' decision to remove Christy Clark's name from the party logo. They've also removed the BC Liberal name and have reduced themselves to just a Barack Obama style 'O'-shaped B.C. flag logo."

The release then goes on to single out Mike de Jong, Douglas Horne, Terry Lake, and Vancouver-Quilchena candidate Andrew Wilkinson as Liberals who have chosen this route.

Their websites differ from the stock pages offered on the BC Liberal homepage, and despite flashing the B.C. flag logo as the Conservatives point out, they omit the "Today's BC Liberals" slogan that accompanies the logo on other candidates' campaign websites.

The candidates in question say the Conservatives' argument doesn't have any weight.

"Mr. de Jong is a proud member of the BC Liberals," said his communications representative, Mario Miniaci. He then pointed out the number of "front and centre" appearances the minister has made in relation to the party's campaign, including featuring in Christy Clark's 30-minute infomercial.

Like Miniaci, Horne think the Conservatives argument is "a bit of a stretch."

He saw the press release and is quick to point out the party logo on his website and a copy of Clark's infomercial.

"So I think it's much ado about nothing," he says.

Horne explains that an independent website is easier to manage, faster to update and makes it "easier to cater to some of the ethnic groups within my community." (His website has Farsi and Mandarin pages, as does the general BC Liberal website.)

As for Wilkinson's website design, it's a matter of promoting the candidate first and foremost.

"I think the role of the candidate's website is to as prominently as possible feature the candidate and why he should be supported as the next MLA as a representative of both the party and the constituents," Wilkinson's campaign manager Douglas Leung told The Tyee.

Leung says voters look to the qualifications of candidates to make their decision on election day.

"There's always the ongoing discussion of 'Do you vote for the individual or do you vote for the party?'" says Leung, adding that it's important to give the public the opportunity to vote for both.

The distancing of a Liberal candidate from his party made headlines last week when Kamloops This Week quoted Kamloops South-Thompson hopeful Todd Stone as telling a constituent to vote "Stone, not Liberal" in response to a dismissive remark.

"I know, I know. Good candidate, wrong party," said Stone, who could not be contacted by press time.

The provincial New Democrats and Conservatives were quick to jump on this article, with the latter referencing it in their press release describing the Liberals' websites.

Natascia Lypny is completing a practicum at The Tyee. Follow her on Twitter @wordpuddle.

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