EDITORIAL – Wilkinson’s leadership hangs in the balance this week

Andrew Wilkinson. (Screenshot, BC Hansard)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IN THE WANING DAYS of the provincial election, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has been distracted from his key policy promises — such as suspending the provincial sales tax — by unwanted controversies involving his candidates.

The latest is Chilliwack MLA Laurie Throness, who expressed the view during a forum that an NDP proposal for free contraception “contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing.”

Eugenics is population engineering to increase desirable human characteristics. The comment didn’t raise any eyebrows at the forum but the NDP pounced, and Throness is now an ex-Liberal candidate running as an independent.

Throness made a point of saying within the context of his remarks that he has nothing against contraception itself but it didn’t matter. His resignation from the Liberal caucus was welcomed by Wilkinson.

It’s worth pointing out that Throness has been a controversial politician throughout his two terms as MLA, often slammed by the NDP for allegedly homophobic views.

Despite the controversies, Wilkinson made no attempt to replace him before or after the election was called. He’s been slow to act in other situations as well, such as the now infamous roast for retiring MLA Ralph Sultan in which Jane Thornthwaite made insulting sexist remarks about Bowinn Ma of the NDP.

Then there was Langley candidate Margaret Kunst who, as a municipal councillor, voted against the installation of a rainbow crosswalk.

Whether such incidents are unacceptable, or innocent mistakes, or free expression in a democratic society depends on your point of view, but they’re certainly inadvisable in a volatile political situation.

They don’t represent the views of Wilkinson, other candidates nor the party but there’s a growing perception that he’s lost control, and the party has been badly hurt by it.

If the NDP rolls to a comfortable majority on Saturday as the polls predict, the BC Liberals may be shopping for a new leader.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9052 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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