May 7, 2013 7:39 pm
Updated: May 8, 2013 4:00 am

Langley Liberal campaign manager resigns over gay rights issue


The former campaign manager for incumbent Langley Liberal candidate Mary Polak has resigned, saying he couldn’t campaign in a riding where the voters had a “hateful attitude” toward the gay community.

Todd Hauptman issued his resignation Tuesday morning in a letter to “my fellow British Columbians,” much to Polak’s consternation.

Story continues below

“I can’t say I completely understand it,” Polak said. “We’ve known each other for a long time. We’re friends and I care about him really deeply. It’s a day I’m feeling really hurt.”

Polak said the resignation followed discussions between her and Hauptman after he had allegedly given strategy information to the New Democrats.

She added she had believed the two could resolve the issue and continue working together.

The pair had known each for 10 years, and “were good friends,” Polak said.

“I wanted him to remain my campaign manager but it raised some issues of trust … This is where friendship and politics become a problem.”

In a letter to “my fellow British Columbians,” Hauptman called on the political parties to speak up for the gay community.

He noted while Polak has “always shown me strength and love and encouragement when I came out,” he could not continue to campaign in Langley, where voters hold a “hateful attitude” toward the gay community.

Polak said Tuesday that Hauptman had never raised these issues with her, but noted he did express some concerns after an all-candidates debate when she didn’t fully answer a friend’s question about the three books involving same-sex parents that were banned in Surrey elementary schools in the late 1990s.

Polak was a school trustee, and member of the right-wing Surrey Electors’ Team, when the books were banned. She was later chairwoman of the board and fought to uphold the bans in court.

The school district ultimately allowed two other books as part of the kindergarten-Grade 1 curriculum after the matter was taken to the B.C. Supreme Court.

Polak, a Catholic, said she tries not to judge others but to “act in charity and love to everyone.”

“I suppose the very saddest part of this is we should all be trying to bring forward a message of unity in support of one another and care for one another,” she said. “I suspect it will result in more division and more arguing.”

Polak said her deputy campaign manager Derek Robertson has taken over for Hauptman, and they will continue to campaign hard in the next week.

She was at a loss for words when asked how the latest wrinkle will affect her campaign.

“One the one hand I want to run a good strong campaign,” she said. “On the other hand there’s a personal level to this.”

The full contents of Hauptman’s letter follows:

May 7th, 2013

To My Fellow British Columbians:

Today is about to become a day that I will no doubt remember for as long as I live.

As many in the political community know (and in the community of Langley where I reside) I am the campaign manager for incumbent BC Liberal candidate Mary Polak. I also happen to be gay.

Today, I am asking politicians of all stripes – including Mary – to speak up for the gay community. We live in a day and age where we must be willing to embrace our fellow human beings, regardless of their sexual orientation. I have had enough of being marginalized and I am tired of politicians making endless excuses for political gain.

While I can say without hesitation that Mary has always shown me respect and love, and was a source of strength and encouragement when I ‘came-out,’ I have been conflicted beyond words these past weeks. You see, the very base of voters who will likely help Mary get re-elected in just one-weeks time are made up of individuals who hold hateful attitudes towards the community I am a part of.

It is knowing this that I simply cannot in good conscience support a campaign made-up of people who think of me as less of a person because I am gay. It is for these reasons that – after considerable thought and deliberation – I have decided to step-down from Mary’s campaign effective immediately.

Those who read this may be shocked or even angry at me for making this decision so late into the election. To them I say, please know I have wrestled with this decision for sometime and simply cannot ignore my feelings or convictions any longer. How can I live a life of integrity if I won’t speak-up for myself and my community? How can I be in a position of leadership and influence and yet not do what I know to be right? The answer is, I cannot.

Every human being ought to be loved, cherished, treasured, treated with respect and made to know they are valued. Moreover, all human beings ought to be the recipient of these virtues simply by being a person; that is to say, they are not virtues that can be earned, nor are they only reserved for some and not others.

Some of you will only take away from this letter that I am gay; but know that I am many other things. I am a Christian. I am the recipient of a kidney transplant. I am a passionate, thoughtful person who cares for others. I am a loyal friend. I am educated. I am an active member of my community. I am the same Todd I have always been.

With Deep Respect,

Todd Hauptman

© 2013 Postmedia

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.