James Lunney, member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni, has stepped down from the Conservative Party caucus citing freedom of religion.
According to a statement released to the media Tuesday, Lunney said he is withdrawing voluntarily to sit as an independent. He will continue to vote alongside his former Conservative colleagues.
Lunney garnered national attention when he got into a debate on Twitter involving evolution in late February.
— James Lunney, MP (@jameslunneymp) February 28, 2015
“In the past month a few words exchanged on social media, words like: science, managing assumptions and theory or fact related to (macro)evolution. My remarks were inflated by media, blended with other unrelated but alleged heretical statements and became a top story on national media creating a firestorm of criticism and condemnation,” Lunney said in the statement.
“In a society normally proud of embracing difference, the role of the media and partisan politics in inciting social bigotry and intolerance should be questioned. Such ignorance and bigotry cloaked in defence of science is as repugnant as bigotry of any other origin.
“It is based in a false construct from another century and is a flagrant violation of a society that is multicultural, multi-racial and multi-faith and strives to be accepting of differences,” he said.
— James Lunney, MP (@jameslunneymp) March 31, 2015
John Duncan, MP for Vancouver Island North and Tory party whip, reiterated that Lunney stepped down voluntarily. “There was no conversation with me that led to him doing this,” Duncan said.
Lunney announced in October 2013 that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election in the upcoming federal election. He was first elected to represent Nanaimo in 2000.