What will the BC Liberals’ ongoing controversies mean for the election?

The B.C. Liberals’ campaign trail has been fraught with candidates saying controversial things. Kier Junos reports on a candidate putting forward anti-trans messaging, and Andrew Wilkinson’s reply to questions about his leadership.

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Focus on your platform strengths — that’s the advice for the BC Liberals from an expert as the party deals with yet another political firestorm sparked by one of their own candidates.

With just more than a week to go before election day, the most recent incident the party is dealing with is a now-deleted transphobic tweet from a New Westminster candidate that’s come to light. It comes while the blaze of controversy over former candidate Laurie Throness is still burning.

Political scientist Gerald Baier with the University of British Columbia says while leader Andrew Wilkinson is taking heat for not acting on these controversies, the division between the social and fiscal conservatives has always been an issue for the party.

Baier says Wilkinson could use some support finding balance between the two.

“Maybe try to find some surrogates, as Americans use the term, to sort of speak up on behalf of people who have some degree of prominence, maybe within the party or in the province, you can say that, ‘This is the Andrew Wilkinson that I know,’ and that sort of thing, rather than, ‘That’s all, I have to take his word for it.'”

He says they just need to keep on top of it for the next week.

“They don’t want to see more blow ups or eruptions or whatever the turn of phrase is these days, so sort of trying to anticipate those things,” Baier tells NEWS 1130.

Baier says sticking to the key platform points is a good place to start in the lead up to Oct. 24.

“Things like the PST promise I think, ultimately, if you’re making those kind of promises and you’re committed to that, you want to go full on on that and remind voters that they’ll save some money if they vote for you. I think that’s part of the, kind of, middle-class appeal that they’re trying to have,” he explains.

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As for Wilkinson, the leader needs to act decisively, something he has not done so far, according to critics. If a candidate’s comments are unacceptable — especially if they alienate supporters and party members — he needs to get rid of them, Baier adds.

The latest controversy to hit the Liberals is Lorraine Brett’s tweet from earlier this year that appears to show support for author J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans blog.

Brett took to Twitter on Friday after her post came to light, but didn’t apologize for it.

“In June, I responded to a piece by JK Rowling that was based on her own personal experiences and drew much attention. I think it’s important to hear different ideas in a fair and open society,” her post reads. “The BC Liberals have been unequivocal in our support for the LBGTQ community and … worked hard to advance an agenda that builds a better and more tolerant British Columbia. I am running as a BC Liberal because I share these views.”

The party has also had to deal with the repercussions of a candidate who voted against a rainbow crosswalk in Langley, as well as multiple incidents involving controversial comments from Throness.

On Thursday, Throness resigned from the Liberal caucus after he was slammed for saying the NDP’s free birth control plan had “a whiff of the old eugenics,” suggesting it was meant to prevent poor people from having children.

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