by Tara Brautigam
TORONTO (CP) - A high-ranking official within the Liberal Party of Canada resigned Monday after he made disparaging comments on his blog about NDP Leader Jack Layton and his wife, NDP candidate Olivia Chow.
Mike Klander, executive vice-president of the federal Liberal party's Ontario wing, stepped down after photographs of Chow, NDP candidate for the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina, and a chow chow dog were posted on his blog dated Dec. 9 under the heading Separated at Birth.
The blog also contained an offensive reference to Layton.
"I'm going away for a couple of days so I thought I would find something smart and witty to put up on my blog before I left," the blog said, dated Nov. 23.
"Unfortunatley (sic) I couldn't think of anything so I just want to say that I think Jack Layton is an asshole . . . for no reason other than it makes me feel good to say it . . . and because he is."
The site also had a Top 10 list of things that would "piss me off" during the federal election campaign.
-"Being dragged out to a Liberal rally, lied to so I'm there 30 minutes early, and then forced to stand in a hot room that's way too small to give the appearance that everyone wants to be there."
-"Harper being flanked by the sexy Rona Ambrose at every opportunity."
-"Harper being flanked by the ethnic Rahim Jaffer at every opportunity."
The blog has since been taken offline.
Klander's blog was personal and did not reflect the view of the federal Liberals, said Stephen Heckbert, a spokesman for the Liberal campaign in Ontario.
"I think he recognized that there's some things that are outside the bounds of good taste," Heckbert said. "And I think then it came to a decision that it would be better for the party and for him if he were to step down."
Klander was a volunteer and did not play an official role for the Liberals during this campaign, Heckbert said, adding he has apologized to Chow.
"Obviously, this is something the Liberal Party of Canada doesn't condone. It's our view that partisan rhetoric has its limits."
But Ian Capstick, a spokesman for the NDP campaign, said the postings reflect Liberal mud-slinging.
"We were shocked, disappointed and offended," Capstick said from Ottawa. "This has become indicative of the way Liberals are seeing this election. They couldn't find basis for attack on Ms. Chow's community record, her activism, so they chose instead to focus on one thing."
Klander's resignation was a positive step, but he needs to make further amends, Capstick added.
"He needs to take a good long hard look at some of the postings he made on that website and realize the impact that they had on a variety of different communities."
Tory Leader Stephen Harper also faulted the Liberals for theuir attacks on rival parties.
"There is quite a campaign of slur and personal attack going on here and one can only hope that the Liberal party will get a bit of a public backlash over it," Harper said at a brief campaign appearance in Calgary
Though Klander's comments were regretful, it's not uncommon for political blogs of all stripes to cross certain boundaries, Heckbert said.
"Partisan blogs get a little heated, particularly around election time," he said. "You'd see some language that might curl your hair."