A BC Liberal Party candidate has resigned after facing heavy criticism online for comparing a plan to provide free prescription birth control to eugenics.
Laurie Throness, candidate for the riding of Chilliwack-Kent, made the problematic comments at an all-candidates’ debate on Wednesday, October 14. The announcement of his resignation was made by party leader Andrew Wilkinson on Thursday afternoon, and the party issued a statement shortly afterwards.
A video of the debate shows Throness’ response after being asked whether government should provide free contraception to everyone. He started off saying he has no “moral” problem with birth control, but spiralled into a surprising comparison.
“It contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing where poor people shouldn’t have babies and so we can’t force them to have contraception so we’ll give it to them for free,” said Throness.
“And maybe they’ll have fewer babies so there will be fewer poor people in the future. And to me that contains an odour that I don’t like and so I don’t really support what the NDP is doing there and that’s my answer.”
This is so insulting!!!. Laurie Throness compares contraception to eugenics.
People can make their own choices about their reproductive health.
— Selina Robinson (@selinarobinson) October 15, 2020
Both the BC NDP and the Green Party promised free contraception in their platforms, but the Green Party limited their pledge to making it available for people under the age of 25.
Throness’ comments were widely shared on social media Thursday morning, drawing condemnation from many including the Twitter account for Access BC’s campaign for free contraception.
“No @LaurieThroness, increasing access to prescription #contraception is not eugenics! It’s helping people make decisions about what happens to their bodies,” reads a post from the account.
“We met with you…We informed you about how increasing access to #contraception improves health outcomes for mothers + infants, increases equality, reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies + saves money!”
The advocacy group has been calling for governments to include free birth control as a health care measure for the past four years.
The NDP was also quick to respond to the Liberal Party’s latest scandal.
Their candidate for Coquitlam-Maillardville and former Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, weighed in, saying she was “horrified and flabbergasted” to hear Throness’ comments.
“To suggest somehow that giving people a choice to use contraception and that somehow making it free smacks of eugenics is from another century it is so disrespectful for women that I’m outraged,” said Robinson.
This is not the first time Laurie Throness has come under fire for problematic comments and actions.
Calls for his removal were also made earlier this year after he refused to stop advertising in a Christian magazine known for its homophobic views. Throness went even further to defend an article about conversion therapy.
BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson was quick to respond to the comments, stating that he supports providing free birth control for anyone who wants it.
“What Laurie Throness said was wrong and against my position as leader of this party. I will be making this very clear to Laurie when we next speak,” wrote Wilkinson in a tweet.
— Andrew Wilkinson (@Wilkinson4BC) October 15, 2020
This is the second time in one week that the party leader has had to perform damage control for one of his candidates’ missteps after a leaked video showed BC Liberals’ North Vancouver-Seymour candidate Jane Thornthwaite making sexist comments about Bowinn Ma, the NDP’s North Vancouver-Lonsdale candidate.
In response to Thornthwaite’s controversy, party leader Andrew Wilkinson was quick to apologize and add that the candidate “made a fool” of herself.
In the past, he refused to directly address Throness’ comments and views on the LGBTQ+ community, dodging questions on the subject by bringing up the fact that he has “gay family members” and therefore supports their rights.
But this time Throness’ comments appear to have been the last straw.
“Laurie Throness has accepted that his comments were wrong and inappropriate. It was clear that he couldn’t continue to be part of the BC Liberal team,” reads a statement from the BC Liberal Party.
“The BC Liberal Party is dedicated to a diversity of perspectives, but all party members are dedicated to inclusiveness and equality – that is not up for debate.”