Since this is technically a mini-episode, I'm not going to say a whole lot on this blog post. But I will definitely highlight some of the biggest gaffes we've seen so far in this BC election campaign. The biggest one by far has been the now-infamous Zoom call, that was an invite-only roast of outgoing BC Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan. The octogenarian was being sent off by his BC Liberal colleagues in a mostly fun and light-hearted manner. Then, things took a very wrong turn. Current (yes, current) BC Liberal candidate for North-Vancouver Seymour, Janet Thornthwaite, made 'fun' of Sultan by regaling the participants on the call with an anecdote involving him and BC NDP candidate Bowinn Ma.
Now aside from the obvious, that the comments were sexist, racist and mean-spirited, there's the more chilling aspect of this whole debacle: the internalized misogyny. For Janet Thornthwaite to be the one to make these comments is a serious indictment of just how far we have to go when it comes to feminism and equality. A white woman tearing down a woman of colour to score cheap points on a former colleague. And the absolute gall of every other BC Liberal MLA on that Zoom call to laugh hysterically at her story, with no intervention from their leader whatsoever.
Throness Under The Bus
Where do we even start with this guy? Laurie Throness has made so many problematic statements over the years that it's sometimes hard to keep up. It's shocking that it took this long for BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson to finally do the right thing and get rid of him. But many critics are pointing out that there have been more than enough opportunities for Wilkinson to do the right thing before it got to this point.
Throness has built a reputation for himself for being anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, and aligns himself with many different social conservative orgs. He has received praise from the Christian Heritage Party, as well as Barry Neufeld, the anti-SOGI school trustee in Chilliwack who is known for making wildly bigoted statements on a whole host of social issues. So the question comes back to why Andrew Wilkinson would allow Throness, a man aligned with so many regressive views, to represent his party in an election campaign? The simple answer is, of course, that it's a safe riding for them. They want to hold on to it. But is that short term vision really worth the support of a guy like this?
The situation has gotten so tense that even the chair of membership for the BC Liberals, Nicole Paul, wrote on Twitter yesterday that she has been lobbying to get rid of Throness for months now. I don't know about you, but when your own team is telling you that you have a problem in the upper echelons of your party, it probably means that there's a problem. But maybe that's just me, I don't know.
It Ain't Easy Being Green
The campaign has been going about as expected for the BC Greens, with a lack of visibility being their biggest hurdle to climb. The party is currently lagging in the polls, with current projections forecasting them to possibly lose at least 1 seat. Now as we all know, a week is a lifetime in politics, and the televised leaders' debate has indeed boosted leader Sonia Furstenau's personal numbers, if nothing else. However, as with any slate of candidates, there's going to be at least one or two gaffes here and there. Case in point: Vancouver-Langara candidate Stephanie Hendy (full disclosure: we're friends offline), who made a comment on policy measures the BC NDP have made to improve the lives of POC.
She has since deleted the tweet and apologized, but going back to the original point made by journalist Justin McElroy, the BC Greens do have a diversity problem, and it's part of a larger issue in general with Green parties. The base is overwhelmingly older, white, and largely consists of folks who are usually more concerned with the environment than racism or classism. Now that is definitely starting to change, within the ranks of the party as with the membership. The federal party now has a strong black woman leader in Annamie Paul, who will no doubt raise the party's profile and electoral fortunes.
When it comes to making mistakes in politics, a lot can change during the campaign, and political memories are often short once all is said and done. But the internet is forever, and politicians would do well to remember that before putting their foots in their mouths. They also need to be clear on where they stand with social issues, and who they are supporting. Silence is deafening, and political parties cannot remain silent when it comes to issues affecting basic human rights.
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