BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson is facing backlash this week for likening those fleeing domestic violence to being in a “tough marriage.”
Wilkinson made the comments while being interviewed on Red FM by host Harjinder Thind, who asked the party leader for his thoughts on the Throne Speech in the BC Legislature on Tuesday.
Wilkinson ripped into the speech, saying there was “absolutely nothing” in it and calling the whole thing a “huge disappointment.”
He then touched on what seemed to be particular points of contention for him.
“They talked about guns in hospitals, which nobody has ever heard of. They talked about rural policing,” he said.
He then took aim at the government’s pledge to provide five days of paid leave to people leaving domestic and sexual violence: “They talked about five days’ pay for people who are in a tough marriage and that’s it,” he said.
The exact wording of this section of the speech reads:
Last year, this government passed legislation giving workers fleeing domestic violence up to 10 days of unpaid job-protected leave.
This year, B.C. is taking the next step and providing these workers with paid leave, for up to five days.
Wilkinson’s comments quickly came under fire, with BC’s Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Mitzi Dean among those calling him out.
“Andrew Wilkinson should know that people who live the reality of domestic and sexual violence are not just experiencing a tough marriage,” said Dean. “His-out-of-touch comments diminish the devastating violence that too many people in our province face every day.”
Dean also called on Wilkinson to apologize and retract his statement.
“Hearing Andrew Wilkinson dismiss this violence is disturbing,” said Dean. “He should apologize immediately to the people who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.”
Dean’s thoughts were echoed by numerous others on social media.
This is an appalling lack of compassion and a willful misunderstanding by Andrew Wilkinson of an issue that literally kills people – mostly women and children. https://t.co/2gYRjtCnH5
— Jordan Reid (@JordanNReid) February 12, 2020
The NDP government is bringing to the province 5 days paid leave for those experiencing domestic and sexual violence, and BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson shrugs it off, calling domestic abuse “A Tough Marriage”. Unbelievable. #bcpoli https://t.co/Yc4APRSUEr
— Noah Mitchell (@jeanedkelly) February 12, 2020
This is deeply disturbing that Andrew Wilkinson, would be so dismissive to the point of being cruel, about the realities facing survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This leave will save and change lives #bcpoli https://t.co/0i2Lg9Dl9l
— Barb Nederpel (@BNederpel) February 12, 2020
Renting is “a wacky” time of life…domestic violence is just “a tough marriage”….Mr Andrew Wilkinson demonstrates over and over he lives in some other elite world that is out of touch, callous and shameful! #bcpoli #bcliberals https://t.co/fdm1ud14BW
— Maurine Karagianis (@mkaragianis) February 13, 2020
Andrew Wilkinson has put his foot in his mouth so often, he’s got Athlete’s Tongue. https://t.co/GcOAKYRb3r
— Mark Sweeney (@MarkSweeney) February 12, 2020
— Scott Andrews (@sjbandrews) February 12, 2020
Andrew Wilkinson must resign. Thousands of women killed annually. I am a survivor. Domestic violence cost me my elected position. AMA https://t.co/Cjo1gtpFoL
— Susan Skinner (@SusanSkinnerNV) February 12, 2020
Among those chastising the opposition leader for his choice of words was BC Premier John Horgan, who was asked for his thoughts on Wilkinson’s comments.
“I can’t imagine a man in 2020 saying that, thinking that,” he said. “Much less actually articulating it.”
Wilkinson eventually tweeted about his comments, saying that he had used “the wrong choice of words.”
This was the wrong choice of words and I got it wrong. Victims of domestic violence need their voices heard and our unwavering support, and I want everyone to know they have that with me. #bcpoli https://t.co/gp7qDTFrVs
— Andrew Wilkinson (@Wilkinson4BC) February 12, 2020
Speaking about the throne speech overall, Horgan said the province is “going to continue the work we started two and a half years ago, to make life better for people, so that BC can once again be a place of hope and opportunity – a stronger province, for everyone.”