BC Liberal leader acknowledges ‘wrong choice of words’ for characterizing domestic violence as a ‘tough marriage’ 

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BC liberal leader apologizes for post-throne-speech comments
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson is apologizing for his comments after the government's throne speech that seemed to be insensitive about domestic abuse. Richard Zussman reports – Feb 12, 2020

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says he used the “wrong choice of words” when characterizing domestic violence as a “tough marriage.”

Wilkinson made the comments on RedFM on Wednesday morning when asked about his thoughts on Tuesday’s speech from the throne.

The province used the throne speech to announce changes to support for women fleeing domestic violence. Last year the government announced workers fleeing domestic violence could receive up to 10 days of unpaid job-protected leave.

They are now planning to provide workers fleeing violence with up to five days of paid leave.

“They talked about guns in hospitals, which no one has ever heard of, rural policing and five days paid leave for someone in a tough marriage,” Wilkinson said.

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End Violence BC, an organization advocating for victims of domestic violence, raised concerns about the comment.

“We beg you to get informed as domestic and sexual violence occurs upwards of 60,000 times a year in BC alone and deeply affects whole families,” the organization tweeted before the apology.

Wilkinson later responded via Twitter.

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“This was the wrong choice of words and I got it wrong. Victims of domestic violence need their voices heard and our unwavering support, and I want everyone to know they have that with me,” Wilkinson tweeted.

Mitzi Dean, the government’s gender equity parliamentary secretary, says Wilkinson’s comments show that he doesn’t understand the realities of the people facing intimate-partner violence.

“Andrew Wilkinson should know that people who live the reality of domestic and sexual violence are not just experiencing a tough marriage,” Dean said. “His out-of-touch comments diminish the devastating violence that too many people in our province face every day.”

The B.C. government provided some additional details about domestic and sexual violence.

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Of the 945 intimate-partner homicides in Canada between 2008 and 2018, 79 per cent involved female victims. According to the data, most female victims of intimate-partner homicide were killed by a current or former legally married or common-law husband (73 per cent), and boyfriends were responsible for the other quarter (56 per cent) of female victims’ deaths.

This is not the first time Wilkinson has been criticized for his comments.

In March 2019, Wilkinson apologized after calling renting a “wacky time of life,” “fun,” “enjoyable” and a “rite of passage” during prepared remarks in the legislature.

“Would I phrase it differently this time? Sure, why not? To correct the record, renting can be very difficult and very stressful, and some people are forced to do it their entire lives, even if they don’t want to,” Wilkinson said in 2019.

“I was talking about me at age 21. We’ve all had that experience, getting your first place that’s your own and you think, ‘Wow, that’s exciting and fun.’ If you’re still doing that at 73, it’s not exciting and fun. The fact that I was talking about myself at age 21 doesn’t come through there.”

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