A British Columbia Liberal candidate is apologizing for comments she made about a New Democrat politician in a video that was posted online.
Jane Thornthwaite said Sunday that she’s sorry for commenting on the physical appearance of Bowinn Ma during a recent online roast for retiring politician Ralph Sultan.
The event was hosted by the Liberals in September and attended by the party’s leader, Andrew Wilkinson.
In a Sunday statement on Twitter, Ma says Thornthwaite “sexualized” her interactions with Sultan at a public event the two attended.
Thornthwaite acknowledged that her comments “fell flat and were inappropriate,” and said she apologizes “unreservedly.”
In her own post on Twitter, Thornthwaite added that she reached out to Ma to apologize to her directly.
“I have huge respect for all women who push through glass ceilings. I’m one of them. So is Bowinn Ma,” Thornthwaite said.
“I commit to doing better moving forward.”
Both women were members of the last legislature.
I’m not going to editorialize this.
Rather, I’d like to hear from women on how they feel about this clip.
— Mo Amir ॐ This is VANCOLOUR (@vancolour) October 11, 2020
Thornthwaite was first elected in 2009 and represented North Vancouver-Seymour, while Ma was elected in 2017 in the riding of North Vancouver-Lonsdale.
In her statement, Ma said if society wants more women to enter politics, there must be a commitment to “creating environments that respect them.”
“As a woman who has worked in male-dominated industries my whole life so far, I am sadly no stranger to casual sexism,” she said.
“Like many women in these situations, I found myself making choices about the way that I act, dress, or carry myself to avoid sexist interpretations read into my interactions.”
We need to be a province that enables young women to take on leadership roles without fear of sexism. British Columbians deserve better from their political leaders. pic.twitter.com/sE3MbnKbSZ
— Bowinn Ma (@BowinnMa) October 11, 2020
New Democrat Leader John Horgan praised Ma in his own statement on the issue, calling her a role model.
Other prominent NDP candidates including David Eby and Melanie Mark called for the Liberal party to issue an apology.
Wilkinson issued a statement on Sunday afternoon, apologizing to Ma for Thornthwaite’s “inappropriate” comments.
“I understand why many people are upset, and I continue to be committed to doing everything I can to make sure women are welcomed, encouraged, and treated with respect in politics and public life,” he said on Twitter.
Neither Thornthwaite nor Ma could be reached directly.
I wish to add this. The comments I made at the roast for my colleague Ralph Sultan fell flat and were inappropriate. I unreservedly apologize for making these comments. I have reached out to Bowinn Ma to apologize to her directly as well. I commit to doing better moving forward.
— Jane Thornthwaite (@jthornthwaite) October 11, 2020
Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau also condemned the comments.
“This is appalling,” she said on Twitter. “If women are not warm in the workplace, we are castigated as rude. If we are friendly, we get this.”
A video highlighting Thornthwaite’s comments was first published on Twitter on Saturday by Mo Amir, who hosts a B.C. political and pop culture podcast.
Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
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