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Defeated BC Liberal candidate blasts sexist ‘double standard’ in party leadership

Click to play video 'BC Liberals under fire over leaked Zoom video mocking NDP’s Bowinn Ma' BC Liberals under fire over leaked Zoom video mocking NDP’s Bowinn Ma
BC Liberals under fire over leaked Zoom video mocking NDP's Bowinn Ma on Oct. 11. – Oct 11, 2020

A defeated BC Liberal provincial election candidate is publicly accusing the party’s outgoing leader of throwing her “under the bus” in response to a scandal.

In a scathing op-ed in Saturday’s The Vancouver Sun, Jane Thornthwaite also accused Andrew Wilkinson of presiding over a “double standard” in how the party treats men and women.

Read more: B.C. election 2020: Liberal incumbent loses seat after sexist jokes about NDP MLA

The former MLA for North-Vancouver Seymour made headlines last month when video emerged of her making a sexist joke about the NDP’s Bowinn Ma during a virtual roast for outgoing MLA Ralph Sultan, as a several candidates and Wilkinson laugh along.

“The reason I bring this up is not to deflect,” wrote Thornthwaite.

“I was wrong and have only myself to blame for what I said. But I also want to show how the response and lack of leadership made the situation worse.”

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Click to play video 'B.C. Leaders debate 2020: Is Andrew Wilkinson setting the right tone?' B.C. Leaders debate 2020: Is Andrew Wilkinson setting the right tone?
B.C. Leaders debate 2020: Is Andrew Wilkinson setting the right tone? – Oct 13, 2020

Thornthwaite apologized the day after the video began circulating on social media. But it was days before Wilkinson addressed the issue, and when he did, pinned it squarely on the candidate’s shoulders.

“Listening to Andrew Wilkinson tell British Columbians that I ‘made a fool of myself’ despite saying the opposite to me privately was soul crushing and likely cemented the loss of my seat,” wrote Thornthwaite.

Read more: B.C. election 2020: Liberal leader says he felt ’embarrassed’ during incumbent’s sexist roast

“Listening to Wilkinson throw me under the bus, I experienced what many women in our organization have experienced — a double standard between the treatment of men and women.”

“Different standards existed for female colleagues and staff depending on how useful we were perceived to be. Clearly this was my moment to be told I was now useless to the team.”

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In the op-ed, Thornthwaite compares her experience to the way Chilliwack-Kent candidate Laurie Throness was treated when video emerged of him comparing free birth control to eugenics.

Throness resigned from the BC Liberal party, but Wilkinson declined to say whether he would have fired the candidate if he had not.

Throness went on to lose his seat to an NDP challenger.

“Wilkinson never said Laurie Throness ‘made a fool’ of himself when he refused to stop advertising in a magazine containing anti LBGTQ2+ content. Or when he likened free birth control to eugenics,” wrote Thornthwaite.

“I never heard Wilkinson call male MLAs ‘fools’ after they took part in rallies against a woman’s right to choose or when they advertised for federal campaigns after being told not to do so.”

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Read more: ‘I am sorry’: BC Liberal incumbent responds after making sexist joke about BC NDP’s Bowinn Ma

Thornthwaite goes on to say she was asked for ideas on how to repair the party’s relationship with the LGBTQ2 community, but her input was ignored.

The party will fail to attract more women and diverse candidates as it seeks to renew itself without instilling the “right culture,” or if it permits MLAs and staff to be “bullied or marginalized based on gender,” she warns.

Global News has requested comment from Wilkinson and the BC Liberal Party.