B.C. NDP candidate Julian West has called it quits over a controversial naked swim in front of some teenagers 12 years ago.
The Saanich-Gulf Islands New Democrat says his nude hijinks were becoming a distraction for NDP Leader Jack Layton's national campaign.
While Layton has steadfastly defended West, the former Green Party candidate suggested his naked 1996 romp as a 32-year-old environmentalist at a youth conference was too much to overcome.
"After thinking about it, I have determined that I do not want to continue as a candidate and I have informed the party of that decision," he said in a statement.
"I do not want my candidacy to detract from the campaign or from the issues that should be front and centre in this campaign. I'm going to return to my private life now, and I sincerely hope the campaign will be focused on the issues."
Although he's "resigned," West's name will still be on the ballot as the deadline for candidates to step down or be replaced has passed.
A dozen high school students witnessed West's infamous swim and his nude body-painting at a camp on Mesachie Lake in B.C., and he was asked to leave the two-day conference.
At the time, the RCMP deemed his behaviour "inappropriate," but he was never charged with any crime.
On Sunday in Gatineau, Que., Layton said Canadians were more concerned about serious issues like the shortage of family doctors than the youthful indiscretions of political candidates.
- Robert Benzie