Jane Thornthwaite apologizes; Bowinn Ma responds to "deeply uncomfortable characterization" of her conduct

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      The B.C. Liberal candidate at the centre of a social-media controversy says she's sorry for what she said about a North Shore NDP candidate.

      North Vancouver–Seymour incumbent Jane Thornthwaite has "unreservedly" apologized for comments that sexualized North Vancouver–Lonsdale incumbent Bowinn Ma's interactions with an octogenerian former B.C. Liberal MLA.

      It came during a "virtual" roast for Ralph Sultan over Zoom. Several B.C. Liberal MLAs, including leader Andrew Wilkinson, are seen laughing in response to Thornthwaite's remarks.

      "The comments I made at the roast for my colleague Ralph Sultan fell flat and were inappropriate," Thornthwaite stated over Twitter.

      In an earlier tweet, Thornthwaite stated that she has "huge respect for all women who push through glass ceilings".

      "I’m one of them," she added. "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."

      Ma issued her own statement explaining why she felt that the comments were a "deeply uncomfortable characterization" of what she was doing.

      "As a woman who has worked in male-dominated industries my entire life so far, I am sadly no stranger to casual sexism," Ma wrote. "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."

      Ma didn't mention Sultan by name. However, the 87-year-old former West Vancouver–Capilano MLA is hard of hearing—a fact well known to people who served in the last legislature.

      "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 party lines," Ma continued. "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 reaction in that video do the exact opposite."