“I am sorry. I am sorry if people were offended, that was not my intent. This was a roast,” Jane Thornthwaite, BC Liberal incumbent for North Vancouver-Seymour, told Global News on Sunday.
“The evening was supposed to be a funny evening. In my particular case, the jokes were out of place, I shouldn’t have done them.”
Thornthwaite told Global News she has not spoken to party leader Andrew Wilkinson about the joke, either at the time of the roast or since then.
But she has received support form her caucus colleagues, and said while she has to “do better”, she has no plans to step down.
Wilkinson did take to Twitter Sunday, saying Thornthwaite was right to apologize to North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP candidate Bowinn Ma and adding his own apology, stating “this never should have happened.”
The joke in question involved Ma and Ralph Sultan, the retiring MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano.
During a Zoom “virtual roast” at Sultan’s expense, Thornthwaite recounted a story insinuating Ma had used feminine wiles to beguile the retiring MLA at a constituency event.
“Bowinn, as you know, very pretty lady, and she knows she’s got ‘it,'” said Thornthwaite.
“Bowinn would be right up, right next to him, cuddling, cuddling, a little bit of cleavage there, and Ralph would be enthralled with her.”
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and several other party members, including candidates, can be seen laughing along with the joke.
Thornthwaite said she has phoned Ma and left a voicemail to apologize in person.
The incident led to a firestorm on social media after CKNW contributor and podcaster Mo Amir posted it on Twitter, with many pointing to the fact that it denigrated a woman of colour who has overcome barriers to become a political leader.
Thornthwaite said she hopes the video does not discourage other women from seeking a life in politics.
“I myself have been subject to negative comments for the way I look, so I totally understand,” she said.
“We need more women’s voices. We need more women’s voices in caucus.”
While Ma has yet to speak publicly on the issue, she issued a written statement specifically highlighting that concern.
“Young women deserve a province that encourages them to take on leadership roles without fear of sexism,” she wrote.
“If we want more young women and people of colour to enter politics, we must commit to creating environments that respect them. The comments and reactions in that video do the exact opposite.”