The man at the top of the NPA ticket has claimed that he's being victimized by personal attacks.
In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe alleged that a recent article distributed by the Broadbent Institute "was a complete smear job".
It noted that when LaPointe was editor-in-chief of the Hamilton Spectator in 1999, he wrote an editorial explaining why the paper had refused to publish a photo on the front page of two men kissing.
"I'm concerned that there are haters out there who also have the equivalent of a printing press or a broadcast outlet who feel no compunction about smearing," LaPointe said. "That concerns me. That would concern me if it were coming out of our camp as much as whether it comes out of another camp."
He said that the Broadbent Institute article has "permitted Vision Vancouver staff and supporters to take it to the next step, which is to say, 'He hates, he's a hater.' "
Vision Vancouver campaign communications director Marcella Munro fired off several tweets and retweets today about LaPointe's decision not to publish the photo in 1999.
In one, she asked: "Does @kirklapointe still find pictures of gay men kissing distasteful?"
In another, Munro stated: "And 15 years ago lots of us were happy to stand for equality, inside the media and out."
In a third tweet, Munro posted a link to an Ontario court decision along with this message: "15 years ago courts took leadership. Mr. LaPointe did not: religioustolerance.org/hom_0069.htm."
LaPointe said that he has proposed a "code of conduct" to take personal attacks out of the campaign.
"If my ideas aren't as good as the other person's ideas, then I deserve to lose," he said. "But we shouldn't express ourselves in a way that gets personal, that hypothesizes motives, that somehow draws a foul conclusion about the other person. That's not what this city is about. It's a city of tolerance, not an angry mob, and so you know, I'm resisting as many urges as I can to not respond to the haters and to people that don't bother to have a decent sense of reflection or inquiry."
He added he's concerned that some of the people who've criticized him about the photo are members of the Liberal Party of Canada. He wouldn't identify them by name.
"The leader of the party is the son of...the most revered politician in my life," LaPointe said. "I can't believe that he would tolerate this."
Meanwhile, Vision Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson told the Straight by phone that he's "disappointed" to hear LaPointe accuse people of being haters.
Stevenson, a long-time activist for LGBT rights, added that LaPointe's response suggests that no one can question what he did or why he did it.
"I would hope that he would recognize that he made an error in judgement and he would apologize to our community," Stevenson said. "I think he needs to apologize."
Stevenson criticized LaPointe for not attending the launch of Pride Week at Vancouver City Hall. Stevenson also said that the last time the NPA was in power, from 2005 to 2008, it halted holding events at Vancouver City Hall to commemorate Pride.
"They stopped everything," he said. "There wasn't one Pride event of any kind in those three years."
LaPointe said that he's never been a hater and has maintained an "open heart" in his dealings with other people.
"I'd like to think that those who have worked with me have always felt that I've been open-minded, encouraging, tolerant as a colleague, and that the journalism that I've advocated has been ahead of its time," the NPA mayoral candidate said.
That prompted Stevenson to retort: "Obviously it wasn't ahead of its time when he refused to put the picture of two men kissing [in the newspaper] and thought it was inappropriate."
Stevenson also criticized the NPA for not expelling school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Wood from caucus more than two years ago after they appeared in a video shot by a U.S. organization opposed to same-sex marriage.
"No one challenged what they said and what they did at all," Stevenson said.
He added that it was only after Denike and Woo "went way over the top" this year in their opposition to advancing equality for LGBT students that the caucus chair, Elizabeth Ball, took action.
LaPointe, however, said that the NPA caucus's decision to expel Denike and Woo "sent a very clear message that we stand for inclusiveness and tolerance".
"The NPA that people see in this campaign might be a little different than the NPA they believed they knew," LaPointe added. "And I think our actions will speak to that, but that was a very clear positive signal that this is our way ahead."
And yes, LaPointe said he plans to march in the Pride parade on Sunday (August 3). This will occur even as Vision Vancouver continues trying to cast doubts on his party's commitment to equal rights for the LGBT community.