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B.C. Conservatives fire third candidate, senior volunteer steps down

John Cummins at a news conference in Vancouver in 2011.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The B.C. Conservatives have fired a third candidate after reviewing a vetting process that allowed two others to slip through the cracks.

Leader John Cummins said in a written statement Sunday that he has dumped Vancouver-West End candidate Ron Herbert, though he did not specify why.

Herbert's dismissal follows those of two other candidates who were fired earlier in the week for making inappropriate comments.

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A senior volunteer responsible for screening candidates has also stepped down, Cummins said.

"In light of last week's revelation about two of our candidates, I ordered a full re-vetting of all BC Conservative candidates," he said in the written statement. "These are never easy situations for a campaign, but I believe that leaders must act proactively."

Herbert was named a candidate just one day before the nomination period closed. The B.C. Conservatives' website says Herbert was once a board member for the federal Conservative Party in Vancouver South. He was also the first openly gay president of the University of British Columbia Youth Conservatives while he was participating in federal politics.

The provincial Tories dismissed Mischa Popoff in the Boundary-Similkameen riding on Thursday for making comments in newspapers that Cummins said are disrespectful to women and single mothers.

Popoff, who is now running as an independent, said critical comments he had made about the public inquiry into the missing women murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton, and about women who choose to have children without a partner, were taken out of context.

Just a day before Popoff's dismissal, Ian Tootill was dropped by the party as its candidate for Vancouver-False Creek over comments he made on Twitter last fall about Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler.

Jeff Sprague, who was the provincial Tories' candidate for North Vancouver-Lonsdale, also stepped down in the midst of a drunk-driving investigation.

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Meanwhile on Sunday, NDP leader Adrian Dix announced that if elected, he will extend coverage of the provincial insulin pump program to young adults with serious diabetes.

The announcement came after Dix, who has Type 1 diabetes, played a game of basketball with 11-year-old Jack Stuart. The North Vancouver youth also has Type 1 diabetes and is the founder of the Jack of Hearts Foundation, which raises money for diabetes research.

"Jack's work raising money for juvenile diabetes through his foundation is an inspiration to all British Columbians," said Dix. "I don't think Jack, and young people like Jack, should be cut off key medical equipment just because they turn 19, before they have had a chance to get a post-secondary education and a good job."

Insulin pumps can cost up to $7,500. Currently, Pharmacare generally covers insulin pumps for children and teens under 18 years old. Dix said he would extend the coverage to include people between ages 19 and 25.

Premier Christy Clark also joined in a game of sport on Sunday morning, playing ball hockey with her fellow Liberal candidates in North Vancouver before heading to Vancouver in the afternoon to discuss the importance of lowering taxes and controlling government spending.

The leaders of the four main parties will be squaring off at a televised debate on Monday night.

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