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Nick Kouvalis resigns as Kellie Leitch’s campaign manager

Last Updated Feb 3, 2017 at 5:48 am EDT

Nick Kouvalis and Kellie Leitch at the Garrison Ball, April 2, 2016. Photo via Twitter/NickKovalis

Nick Kouvalis helped both Rob Ford and John Tory secure their respective positions as mayor of Toronto, but he has bowed out of another high-profile position, announcing on Facebook Thursday that he was resigning as Kellie Leitch’s campaign manager.

In a statement, Kouvalis said he was quitting the Conservative leadership candidate’s team because he had “become a distraction.”

“When a member of a campaign team becomes the focus of media coverage, the time comes to resign,” he wrote.

“The campaign should be solely about the candidate and their plans, not their staff’s beliefs, nor their staff’s conduct. It has also become clear to me that the pressures that comes with a stressful campaign leadership role are not conducive to my personal wellbeing.”

Kouvalis made headlines recently for calling University of Waterloo professor Emmett Macfarlane a “cuck” on Twitter after Macfarlane accused Leitch of being a Trump imitator. Leitch has controversially vowed to screen new immigrants to Canada for “Canadian values.”

“Cuck”, short for cuckold, is a disparaging term used to emasculate and belittle. The word has been used amongst the American “alt-right” movement to describe Republicans who they perceive to be emasculated or “selling out.”

Kouvalis later deleted the tweet and apologized.

Kouvalis also admitted last month that he posted false information about the governing Liberals in an effort to draw out left-leaning voters.

Last year Kouvalis tweeted a list of “billions” of dollars Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government had supposedly given to international aid organizations in the last year, including $351 million for the designated terrorist group Hamas.

He later said the information was false, telling Maclean’s magazine that he posted it “to make the left go nuts.”

It’s the second time Kouvalis has left the helm of Leitch’s campaign. Last year he quit after being charged with impaired driving. The Toronto Star reported last May that he had pleaded guilty and was fined $1,690.

Leitch herself has also been no stranger to controversy since she launched her campaign, including a promise she would make potential immigrants undergo screening to make sure their beliefs are consistent with Canadian values.

Leitch issued a statement saying the three chairpeople of her campaign will manage the day-to-day activities on an interim basis, adding she has a strong campaign.

With files from The Canadian Press