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BC Liberal platform reveal overshadowed by sexist comments made during retirement roast

Summary

B.C.'s Liberal leader is addressing sexist comments made by one of his candidates during a now-infamous Zoom call

Leader Andrew Wilkinson says looking back, he probably should have said something when sexist comments were made

The comments were made by Jane Thornthwaite and seemed to suggest Bowinn Ma uses her looks to get ahead.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The BC Liberals have outlined their campaign platform, but the reveal was overshadowed by recent sexist remarks made by one of the party’s candidates.

Andrew Wilkinson, the provincial party’s leader, addressed on Tuesday the comments made by Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite that targeted the NDP’s Bowinn Ma during a virtual retirement roast for long-time MLA Ralph Sultan last month.

Wilkinson, who has been criticized for his lack of action in addressing the comments at the time, admits he should have said something in the moment.

However, he also said that Thornthwaite’s remarks were embarrassing, and that she knew it.

“While Jane’s performance that night was so clearly inappropriate and embarrassing that the tenor of the call was that she had done something completely wrong. So, I didn’t reinforce it that night because she knew that abundantly herself. It didn’t need to be reinforced because it was so clear that what she did was wrong. I was embarrassed by it and, perhaps, in retrospect, I should have spoken with her about never doing that again, but I would think that she learned that lesson on the spot because the event was an embarrassment for Ralph, it was an embarrassment for the people on the call, and she was clearly embarrassed, herself, for her own performance,” Wilkinson said after being asked to address the controversy.

However, while he admits he probably should have done something, Wilkinson also said he didn’t want to ruin the evening for Sultan.

“While I think we’ve all been in those scenarios where someone’s saying something inappropriate. It may be at a family event, it may be at a wedding, it may be at a retirement roast. This one was for an 87-year-old gentleman who lives alone, and there is that sense of not wanting to ruin his evening, but at the same time, being somewhat taken aback at what was coming out of Jane’s mouth.”

Video of the party’s candidates laughing at the disparaging, sexist, and misogynistic comments emerged just less than two weeks before election day in B.C.

“It was abundantly clear by the end of the roast that she had made a bit of a fool of herself,” Wilkinson said of Thornthwaite. “They were hurtful words, they were sexist and inappropriate, and I thought the event spoke for itself.”

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In the video, Thornthwaite seems to suggest that Ma, who is the NDP’s candidate for North Vancouver – Lonsdale, uses her looks to get ahead.

“Bowinn is, you know, a very pretty lady and she knows that she’s got it. And she knows how to get Ralph (Sultan) going,” Thornthwaite said.

She then goes on to “roast” Sultan while recalling an event at Capilano University, which was attended by the two of them and Ma.

“And both Bowinn Ma and Ralph were stuck on the couch together, very, very close together, for almost the entire time,” Thornthwaite said.

Thornthwaite has apologized for her comments. Wilkinson said she also called Ma to apologize directly.

-With files from Monika Gul and Nikitha Martins