The NDP candidate in the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands says he made a "serious error in judgment" by taking off his clothes in front of minors twelve years ago.

Julian West released a statement Sunday about the 1996 incident, where he removed his clothes several times in front of teens at an environmental retreat.

West, 43, says other than removing his clothes to go skinny-dipping, nothing inappropriate happened on the retreat.


According to a 1996 report, the incident was investigated by Lake Cowichan RCMP and later dropped. No charges were laid.

The report quotes an RCMP officer who said a complaint was filed after West dropped his shorts while a group of teens were bodypainting, and said, "Paint me all over."

The candidate says he is apologizing because his political opponents are making the "embarrassing incident" public as a campaign tactic.

"It has come to my attention that my political opponents are raising an embarrassing incident from my past in the context of this campaign," West says.

NDP Leader Jack Layton is standing by West, who used to be a member of the Green Party.

"We welcome people who have advanced ideas on issues relevant to the environment," Layton said Sunday while on the campaign trail in Gatineau, Que.

"Some campaigns seem to be based on people's efforts to get out the shovel and start digging around."

Cheeky behaviour in Saanich-Gulf Islands

West is not the only candidate in the tiny Saanich-Gulf Islands riding to be exposed for their past nudity.

In 2001, Liberal candidate and environmental activist Briony Penn grabbed international headlines for a nude horse ride as Lady Godiva to protest against logging on Saltspring Island.

British Columbia has been a veritable hotbed of nude controversy this week. On Friday, B.C. Skeena-Bulkley Valley Conservative candidate Sharon Smith defended naked pictures of herself taken in her office five years ago.

In the photographs, the Houston, B.C., mayor is seen seated naked with the mayor's medallion around her neck.

Rough week for NDP

The B.C. New Democrats lost two candidates in the province this week after videos appeared on the internet of them smoking pot.

West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea-to-Sky Country candidate Dana Larson and Vancouver-Quadra hopeful Kirk Tousaw both handed in their resignations after widespread media reports of involvement with illegal drugs.