UPDATE: Laurie Throness has resigned as the B.C. Liberal candidate for Chilliwack-Kent. His name will remain on the ballot.
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson made the announcement at a campaign stop in Coquitlam.
“I’ve accepted his resignation ... we’ll move forward without him,” said Wilkinson.“It’s critical that we all understand that access to contraception is a critical issue in our society.”
The B.C. Liberal Party is once again in hot water for controversial remarks made by a candidate, this time comparing free contraception to eugenics.
During an all-candidates debate this week, Chilliwack-Kent candidate Laurie Throness accused the NDP of veering into eugenics in response to a question about that party’s plan to provide free contraception in the province.
“The other thing that I feel about this is that it contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing where, you know, poor people shouldn’t have babies,” he said. “And so we can’t force them to have contraception, so we’ll give it to them for free. And maybe they’ll have fewer babies. So there will be fewer poor people in the future.”
WATCH: B.C. election called for Oct. 24. Story continues below.
His comments come less than a week after a video leaked showing Liberal candidate Jane Thronthwaite making a sexist joke regarding an opposing NDP politician, while several other party members including leader Andrew Wilkinson laughed along.
To be clear, offering free birth control is not a tactic to promote eugenics, a philosophy bent on “selectively breeding” the human race, largely debunked as racist.
Multiple studies have actually pointed to the personal, health and economic benefits of free contraception. According to a 2013 Guttmacher Institute review of more than 66 studies, spanning three decades, access to reliable contraception gives more space for women to be better parents and benefits society as a whole.
Studies show that accessible contraception leads to more parents having kids when they’re financially and physically ready, and allows for better family planning to set the child up for success.
Canada actually has an unseemly past with eugenics, with provinces, including Alberta and B.C., forcibly sterilizing thousands of people during the 20th century. And in 2017, 60 Inidgenous women launched a class action lawsuit in Saskatchewan, alleging they’d been forcibly sterilized in the past 20-25 years.
That’s nowhere near the same as the free contraception proposed by the NDP. And further, none of the proposed plans for free contraception involve any sort of forced or coerced birth control. So, definitely not eugenics.
HuffPost Canada has reached out to Throness for a comment, but hasn’t heard back.
B.C. voters and other candidates were quick to call out Throness’s comments on social media.
Wilkinson took to Twitter Thursday to condemn Throness’s comments, saying he will speak to the candidate about them.
“Let’s be clear, I support government providing free contraception to anyone in BC who wants it,” he wrote. “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.”
Throness was first elected to represent Chilliwack-Kent in 2013. This isn’t the first time he’s drawn controversy.
Earlier this year, he was slammed for expensing taxpayer dollars on ads in a self-described “Christian lifestyle magazine” called The Light Magazine, and openly defending an article in the magazine advocating for LGBTQ conversion therapy.
Critics called on Wilkinson to remove Throness from the party for his views. Wilkinson said at the time that he supports LGBTQ rights, but did not fire Throness.