‘I want to apologize to Bowinn Ma’ - Wilkinson

Liberal leader calls candidate’s comments embarrassing and appalling

A screenshot from a Zoom "roast" of retiring West Vancouver MLA Ralph Sultan

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson publicly apologized to NDP candidate Bowinn Ma for comments made by his party’s North Vancouver-Seymour candidate in a retirement roast Zoom call.

Liberal Jane Thornthwaite at one point starts talking about Bowinn Ma, the NDP candidate for North Vancouver-Lonsdale.

“Bowinn is a very pretty lady, and she knows that she’s got ‘it’,” Thornthwaite says as the rest of the group giggles.

“Many of us were embarrassed to the point of being appalled,” Wilkinson told reporters Oct. 13. “This episode should never have happened.” 

“I want to apologize to Bowinn Ma,’ Wilkinson said.

A video clip emerged on the weekend in which several BC Liberal members, including Wilkinson, were staging a “roast” of retiring West Vancouver MLA Ralph Sultan.

“Many of the people who were at Ralph’s retirement event thought Jane’s comments were in extremely bad taste,” Wilkinson said. “The embarrassment was immediate.”

He said he wished he could have intervened without embarrassing Sultan.

NDP Coquitlam-Maillardville candidate Selina Robinson was not buying Wilkinson’s comments about not intervening.

“I think the fact Mr. Wilkinson himself was laughing at the time speaks for itself,” Robinson said.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, Thornthwaite tweeted a response: “I have huge respect for all women who push through glass ceilings. I’m one of them. So is Bowinn Ma.”

Thornthwaite acknowledged 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. "This video has completely derailed the BC Liberal election campaign.”

BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau called the situation unacceptable.

“This is appalling,” Furstenau tweeted. “If women are not warm in the workplace, we are castigated as rude. If we are friendly, we get this.”

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo