Monday October 12, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC [Last updated 10:25 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Monday October 12 is Thanksgiving Monday and also Day 21(*) on the Election BC campaign trail (*calling September 21 as Day 1, the day the election was called). This is still the Thanksgiving long weekend.
The Provincial General Election Day is on Saturday October 24. Advance voting and voting-by-mail are available. Elections BC info.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which requires physical distancing, most campaign activities are done remotely online, both for the media and the voter audiences.
A televised leaders debate will be held on major TV channels (as well as live-streamed) on Tuesday October 13 from 6:30 to 8 pm.
Town halls and All Candidates Meetings are posted on the Island Social Trends Events page.
BC NDP: On Monday October 12, BC NDP candidate Bowinn Ma (North Vancouver – Lonsdale) will hold a media availability at 9 am in North Vancouver. This follows an incident yesterday that ‘set Twitter on fire’, over some inappropriate demeaning sexualized comments about Ma that had been made by BC Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite. Here is our Thanksgiving editorial on being thankful for socioeconomic change.
NOTES: 9:40 am – Bowinn Ma (candidate for North Vancouver-Lonsdale) addressed media and while her statement and answers were politically correct, it’s clear she is personally (and understandably) affected by the incidents of the past day or so over the leaked video clip in which she was the subject of casual sexism. She admitted to not listening to Thornthwaite’s voice message yet and that she is “not quite ready to call Jane back”. No other BC Liberals have reached out to her, she said.
“I am not the only woman who has experienced this in their daily lives,” said Ma today. She says that oftentimes women are judged “not by their experience, accomplishments, or potential but by the way that they look… This is extremely common to women and girls throughout the province.”
This current situation has brought forth “a courage we have not seen from British Columbians before” and sees that people are “refusing to accept this kind of behaviour from leaders”.
The culture of an organization is set by its leader. “It’s clearly up to the people of British Columbia as to whether they want these political leaders re-elected, said Ma about Thornthwaite and Wilkinson,” said Ma.
But she has insisted already in a statement on Twitter and again today: “This isn’t about me. Comments in the video harm all women, girls and non binary people.” Today Ma said that BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson “needs to explain himself to British Columbians” for standing by silently during the online ‘roast’ for a retiring member of the party (MLA Ralph Sultan) while Ma was being spoken about disrespectfully.
Ma is 35 years old, and an engineer by profession. She says this is hardly the first time she has experienced sexism. She has served one term as an MLA with John Horgan’s NDP government.
Ma says that under the BC NDP leadership of John Horgan — who has maintained a gender-balanced caucus and who established the first BC Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity in 2017 — that she has “almost forgotten” what it’s like to experience sexism in the workplace.
Indeed, even the fact that she was given a formal teleconference entirely for an opportunity to address this incident is evidence of respect for women in the NDP party.
“I look forward to when women and girls throughout the province can pursue leadership roles without the fear of sexism. I have been supported by the NDP caucus and particularly by the leadership of John Horgan. So much so, that he almost made me forget that not all political parties go by the same standard for demanding respect for women,” said Ma today.
Leadership of that nature by Horgan and his caucus in terms of respect for “women and people of all sorts of backgrounds can give people hope that they, one day, might be able to fill these roles of leadership”.
In response to a question from Island Social Trends about how this episode can help women in BC going forward, Ma said: “Politics matters. Elections matter. Leadership matters.”
She added: “We are in a provincial election right now, today, and on October 24 British Columbians will choose the kind of leader they want to lead the province. They can choose John Horgan and the BC NDP – a government that has been working for BNs for the lat 3.5 years moving the prov forward for a more equivable future for everyone. Or I hope they don’t choose it, but they can end up with Andrew Wilkinson (and the) BC Liberals who will move this province backwards.”
To be fair, it could be said that Ma was a bit naive, in what she says was her “showing kindness” to an older MLA who was hard of hearing (an explanation for how close she was sitting and speaking with Sultan at the political event referred to in Thornthwaite’s ‘roast’ of Sultan which started this entire furor. Old men who’ve contained their lives within politics do have a way of sometimes forgetting their political place in favour of their personal enjoyment of the moment; this is something that will likely change a lot as a result of this weekend’s sociological evolution.
Today at 10:15 am in a media teleconference in Vancouver, John Horgan said about the comment by Thornthwaite in the online roast: “It was blatant sexism that was allowed to pass” but that it was “a teachable moment”. Horgan said that “women across Canada are cheering British Columbians for standing up to say this is not okay”. “This is what systemic sexism looks like – you can say what Jane Thornthwaite said and no one bats an eye.”
Today at 10:00 am Leader John Horgan was joined by Vancouver BC NDP candidates Brenda Bailey, Spencer Chandra Hebert and George Heyman at 10 am, at Hinge Park (site of a future new school) in Vancouver… to make an announcement about making life more affordable for British Columbians.
The announcement focussed on the cost of renting in BC. He promised that a re-elected BC NDP government will freeze rents to the end of 2021. Also, the announcement included a renter’s rebate of $400/year for households earning up to $80,000 per year. In his first term, Horgan capped rent increases at inflation each year, saving renters an average of $333 every year. A re-elected BC NDP government would pass legislation to make cap permanent.
Under the BC NDP the BC speculation tax would continue, which has brought in $115 million and served to see that 11,000 homes/units were made available to renters.
BC NDP: On Monday October 12, BC NDP incumbent Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) and candidate Grace Lore (Victoria-Beacon Hill) made an announcement at 12 noon in Victoria about delivering affordable access to health care and fighting gender inequality.
Dean and Lore were joined by Devon Black, co-founder of Access BC to announced about a re-elected BC NDP government providing free prescription contraception to women, an initiative that will cost about $60 million per year.
The initiative would save much more in the big picture in terms of preventing unplanned pregnancies and all the socioeconomic consequences — both for individuals and families as well as the government in the longer term. Yesterday BC NDP incumbent Katrina Chen also made the free contraception announcement in Vancouver, alongside Dr Habte representing Access BC, but today Lore said the Access BC initiative was generated out of the south Vancouver Island area.
Dean and Lore commented today regarding the BC Liberal caucus video in which Bowinn Ma was mentioned in a sexualized manner.
- Mitzi Dean told Island Social Trends: “Women especially across the whole of the province were really dismayed to see that video, to see how Bowinn Ma as a young woman, seeking the re-election was treated. And how the leader of the opposition didn’t intervene, the members of the opposition caucus were just giggling away and laughing. And they’re all responsible for colluding with that terrible attack, and that terrible sexualisation.”
- Grace Lore told Island Social Trends: “For me this issue of how we talk about and treat women in politics is a personal issue. As a young woman opting into politics and in a professional sense, this is the work I have done. So it’s hard overstate the impact of that video. I am so grateful to Bowinn for standing up and making folks understand that this is about her experience and how she was talked about. But also the ways in which other women face casual and not-so-casual sexism in the workplace. We deserve better than that. The people who are participating in politics at all levels – as voters, as folks who are advocating, deserve better than that.”
BC Liberals: BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is not doing any public events today. The BC Leaders debate on TV is tomorrow.
BC Greens. BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau will be spending the day with family on Monday October 12, for Thanksgiving.