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Political rivals in one B.C. riding join forces after Green candidate faces transphobic protester

Click to play video 'Liberal, NDP candidates rally behind Green candidate after transphobic incident in Coquitlam' Liberal, NDP candidates rally behind Green candidate after transphobic incident in Coquitlam
WATCH: Liberal, NDP candidates rally behind Green candidate after transphobic incident in Coquitlam – Oct 22, 2020

In the bitterly-fought partisan war of an election campaign, it’s a rare thing to see candidates from three parties to come together in solidarity — never mind two days before election day.

That’s exactly what happened on Thursday, as both the NDP and BC Liberal candidates for Coquitlam-Maillardville came out to support their Green rival on the issue of LGBTQ2 rights.

The unusual tripartisan cooperation came after Green candidate Nicola Spurling said a man wearing a sandwich board emblazoned with “I (heart) JK Rowling” and “gender ideology does not belong in schools” crashed a Wednesday sign-waving event.

Spurling, a transgender woman, said the man was “up in her face” with a camera, “harassing” the volunteers and following her from street corner to street corner.

“They felt very uncomfortable,” she told Global News.

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Read more: Vancouver billboard declaring ‘I ❤ J.K. Rowling’ defaced, removed

Spurling said the man is the same person who bought an “I (love) JK Rowling” billboard in Vancouver last month, and believes he has a “vendetta” against her, for her role in having it taken down.

JK Rowling has become a lightning rod in the debate around transgender rights.

The Harry Potter author has been criticized for a series of recent statements about transgender people, including suggesting that letting people express their gender identity could put women and girls at risk.

In May, the author threatened to sue Spurling over allegedly defamatory comments the candidate made on Twitter.

“I was receiving about 10 hate messages a second at one point, and that was 10 times more than I had ever had,” Spurling said of the incident.

Click to play video 'B.C. teen’s journey to becoming a transgender activist' B.C. teen’s journey to becoming a transgender activist
B.C. teen’s journey to becoming a transgender activist – Nov 16, 2018

On Thursday, the man with the sandwich board was back at the Greens’ sign-waving event filming attendees and questioning them about the “medicalization of children.”

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So, too, was Spurling, along with her political opponents.

“I think its essential that we all stand up to discrimination, to intimidation and to hate and I’m happy to lend my voice,” BC Liberal candidate Will Davis said.

“I couldn’t possibly put myself in her shoes for a moment, so if the least we can do is show up, stand up, stand with her, that’s the least we can do.”

Read more: Canada’s oldest rape crisis centre faces backlash over excluding trans women

NDP candidate Selina Robinson shared a similar view.

“We all have to stick together on these issues like hate, like COVID — there are some things that are non-partisan, that deserve our attention and we have to stand up against it together,” she said.

“It’s the only way to combat it.”

Spurling told Global News she was happy to see the support, but that she’s keen on getting back to focusing on policy, rather than her gender identity.

— With files from Nadia Stewart