Video shows BC Liberals laughing at sexist comments made about NDP candidate Bowinn Ma

Oct 11 2020, 10:38 am

A leaked video of BC Liberal party candidates laughing at sexist and misogynistic comments about NDP candidate Bowinn Ma has drawn a wave of criticism.

The video, which was shared on Twitter on Saturday evening by local podcast host Mo Amir, shows nine members of the BC Liberal party taking part in a virtual “roast” of Ralph Sultan, MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano, last month on a Zoom chat.

During the video, BC Liberal candidate for North Vancouver-Seymour, Jane Thornthwaite, makes sexist comments about Bowinn Ma, NDP candidate for North Vancouver – Lonsdale, and her physical appearance.

“Bowinn is a very pretty lady and she knows she’s got ‘it’ and she knows how to get Ralph going and this is my roast part for Ralph,” says Thornthwaite.

“So I go to an event and one of them was the Cap U student union luncheon…and both Bowinn Ma and Ralph were stuck on the couch together very, very close together for almost the entire time,” she says.

“We were supposed to be networking and all this but Bowinn knows how to get you, she knows how to get you.”

Thornthwaite then suggests that Ma was “cuddling” with Sultan on the couches.

“Bowinn would be right up… cuddling, cuddling, cuddling, a little bit of cleavage there, and Ralph would be enthralled with her.”

The video shows Thornthwaite’s fellow candidates, including party leader Andrew Wilkinson, laughing along.

Hundreds have reshared the video, calling out Thornthwaite and the Liberal candidates for the sexist and misogynistic dialogue.

Katrina Chen, BC NDP candidate for Burnaby-Lougheed, said the behaviour is “unacceptable” and made her “blood boil.”

“This is one of the reasons why it’s hard for women, young women, moms + sisters to enter politics. Sexism exists + many of us have experienced it,” she wrote on Twitter.

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau said the comments were “appalling.”

“If women are not warm in the workplace, we are castigated as rude. If we are friendly, we get this,” she stated. “[Bowinn Ma] is incredibly professional and her ability to forge friendships across party lines makes the legislature better. She is owed an apology.”

Hundreds of others expressed their dismay with the comments online.

On Sunday morning, Thornthwaite addressed the comments on Twitter.

“I have huge respect for all women who push through glass ceilings. I’m one of them. So is Bowinn Ma. Ralph Sultan has the same respect and a soft spot for his fellow UBC engineer, and I made light of that at a roast. I have always and will always support more women in politics,” she stated.

Thornthwaite later Tweeted again stating the comments she made “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.”

Ma also released her own statement responding to the incident on social media. Read her full statement below: 

As a woman who has worked in male-dominated industries my entire life so far, I am sadly no stranger to casual sexism. Like many women in these situations, I found myself making choices about the way that I act, dress, or carry myself to avoid having sexist interpretations read into my interactions – interactions such as, for instance, deliberately speaking closely with an elder who is very hard of hearing.
It is a burden that women should not have to bear while they are simply trying to live their lives and do their jobs.
The video of BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson watching on as a multi-term BC Liberal North Shore MLA sexualized my interactions with another multi-term BC Liberal North Shore MLA is a deeply uncomfortable characterization of my efforts to extend kindness across partisan lines. However, this is not about me.
Young women deserve a province that encourages them to take on leadership roles without fear of sexism. If we want more young women and people of colour to enter politics, we must commit to creating environments that respect them. The comments and reactions in that video do the exact opposite.
DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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