CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) — Laurie Throness has resigned from the BC Liberal caucus after the candidate for the Chilliwack-Kent riding made controversial remarks at an all-candidates debate Wednesday about an NDP plan to provide free contraception.
His resignation comes after NEWS 1130 first told you earlier today he compared the NDP’s free birth control plan to “a whiff of eugenics” — the practice or advocacy of improving the human species by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits.
“Yesterday Mr. Laurie Throness made statements that are not in keeping with the BC Liberal Party or my own values,” party leader Andrew Wilkinson said Thursday. “Those statements about contraception were completely wrong. I have therefore accepted Laurie Throness’ resignation as a candidate for the BC Liberal Party in the upcoming election, and we will move forward without him.”
Throness has accepted that his comments were wrong and inappropriate, according to the Liberals.
“It’s critical that we all understand that access to contraception is a very important issue in our society and we, as a party — and I as a person — fully endorse the idea of free contraception for people who need it for their health care in British Columbia,” Wilkinson, a former practicing doctor, said.
— Andrew Wilkinson (@Wilkinson4BC) October 15, 2020
“It’s also important to say that we have spent a considerable amount of time making it clear that we work with people of faith in this party and understand there’s a broad range of views in British Columbia, on a number of issues. But on this particular issue, and with this particular candidate, things have reached a turning point, where Mr. Throness has voluntarily resigned as a candidate for the BC Liberal Party in the upcoming election.”
During the debate, Throness was asked, “is it right for the government to provide free contraception to everyone?”
A portion of the video was obtained by NEWS 1130. In it, Throness says that while he doesn’t “have a problem with contraception,” he doesn’t see it as a priority.
“It’s not a moral issue to me, but to me, it’s a priority issue. To me, it would not rank as high on the priority list” to other medical services and needs, such as surgery, Throness says.
“And the other thing that I feel about this is that it contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing where poor people shouldn’t have babies and so we can’t force them to have contraception so we’ll give it to them for free,” Throness continues. “And maybe they’ll have fewer babies so there will be fewer poor people in the future. And to me, that contains an odour that I don’t like and so I don’t really support what the NDP is doing there and that’s my answer.”
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His answer was criticized by advocates, including those with Options for Sexual Health, as well as by candidates in opposing parties, and the Liberals.
“Laurie Throness in no way represents what I believe,” tweeted Matt Pitcairn, Liberal candidate Richmond-Steveson. “I find this language totally unacceptable. To compare contraception to eugenics is contemptible and deeply offensive. I will not stand by and abide such remarks.”
Selina Robinson, a BC NDP candidate who’s a licensed family therapist, demanding Wilkinson immediately kick Throness off his team.
“This isn’t a one-off. This is a pattern. This is a man who supports conversion therapy which we know is harmful to people. Most British Columbians believe people should have access to contraception and make their own decisions about sexual health.”
Laurie Throness in no way represents what I believe.
I find this language totally unacceptable.
To compare contraception to eugenics is contemptible and deeply offensive.
I will not stand by and abide such remarks.
— Matt Pitcairn (@MPitcairn) October 15, 2020
Wilkinson said he didn’t need to fire Throness because as soon as they talked he voluntarily resigned.
“This is a party that tries to target a range of views. There’s a party position that is my own position, on things like discrimination and on contraception, and Mr. Throness has reached a point where his views are no longer compatible with mine or the party and so he has voluntarily resigned.”
Wilkinson said the Liberal causes, despite criticisms of Throness, remains clear and united on the issue of free contraception.
“As I’ve said, the values the BC Liberal Party and all of our candidates require the view that contraception should be free for women in British Columbia, and that we have to respect the rights of all British Columbians, and that’s why Mr. Throness is no longer a candidate for this party.”
BC Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau called the comments about contraception by Throness “reprehensible.”
Laurie Throness’ comments on contraception are reprehensible.
The evidence is clear that improving access to contraception actually helps address inequality.#bcelxn2020
— SoniaFurstenau (@SoniaFurstenau) October 15, 2020
NDP Leader John Horgan earlier tweeted, in response to the comments by Throness, everyone has a right to their own contraception.
Everyone has the right to choose their own contraception. Everyone has the right not to face discrimination because of sexual orientation. These are fundamental rights. We all need to uphold them. #BCelxn2020 #bcpoli
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) October 15, 2020
Earlier this month, Pride groups called for Throness to be removed as a Liberal candidate over his LGBTQ+ views. He was at the centre of a controversy in June year after advertising in a publication that supports homophobic and transphobic ideologies.
Despite the resignation, Throness will remain on the ballot for the Oct. 24 provincial election. But if he wins, it would not be considered a seat for the BC Liberals.
Dr. David Moscrop, a political scientist with the University of Ottawa, says Chilliwack-Kent should have been easy to win for the Liberals, but the party should be focusing on the long-term.
“It’s extraordinarily unlikely that the BC Liberals are going to win the election. Right now what they should be doing is focusing on damage control to try to preserve enough of the party so they can rebuild post-election,” he says, adding Throness’ resignation forces the Liberals to reckon with deep internal problems.
Moscrop says there is still the possibility that Throness could be elected as an independent or join another party that would have him.
Throness began his political career with former British Columbia Social Credit Party (Socred) cabinet minister Harvey Schroeder more than 35 years ago. Ten years later, he went to Ottawa to work for Reform MP Chuck Strahl.
He was elected as an MLA in 2013 and again in 2017.
-With files from Jim Bennie