B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has drawn the ire of domestic abuse advocates after characterizing those fleeing violence as “people who are in a tough marriage.”
The comment was made by the opposition leader Wednesday to Red FM radio show host Harjinder Thind, a day after the B.C. NDP pledged to provide five days of paid leave for people leaving domestic or sexual violence during the annual throne speech.
“Well, it’s a huge disappointment because there is absolutely nothing in it,” Wilkinson said.
“They basically talked about what’s happened in the last two years and offered nothing for the future. They talked about guns in hospitals, which nobody has ever heard of, they talked about rural policing and they talked about five days pay for people who are in a tough marriage and that’s it.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Mitzi Dean, who represents the riding of Esquimalt-Metchosin, took to social media to condemn the statement.
“These comments dismiss the devastating violence that too many people face every day. He should know better.”
Wow. This morning, Andrew Wilkinson described people experiencing domestic and sexual violence as "people who are in a tough marriage."
— Mitzi Dean (@MitziDeanBC) February 12, 2020
The Ending Violence Association of B.C. also took to social media to combat Wilkinson’s comment with a number of statistics that depict the serious – and fatal – nature of domestic violence in the province.
“We beg you to get informed as domestic and sexual violence occurs upwards of 60,000 times a year in B.C. alone and deeply affects whole families,” the association said in on tweet.
“Between the years 2010 and 2015, 100 people died as a result of domestic violence in B.C. It’s much more than a ‘tough marriage’ as BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson suggested this morning,” it said in another post.
Wilkinson released a statement of apology on social media shortly before 12:30 p.m.
“This was the wrong choice of words and I got it wrong,” he said. “Victims of domestic violence need their voices heard and our unwavering support, and I want everyone to know they have that with me.”
The apology didn’t stop Premier John Horgan from commenting.
“I can’t believe that in 2020 a man would say such a thing,” he said.
This was the wrong choice of words and I got it wrong. Victims of domestic violence need their voices heard and our unwavering support, and I want everyone to know they have that with me. #bcpoli https://t.co/gp7qDTFrVs
— Andrew Wilkinson (@Wilkinson4BC) February 12, 2020
This isn’t the first time Wilkinson apologized for comments he made after drawing criticism from British Columbians and opposing politicians.
In March 2019, Wilkinson was slammed for calling his time as a younger renter “fun,” “wacky” and “a rite of passage” while questioning the need for legislation that protects renters from rate hikes and instability.
Two days later, he apologized and said he would have phrased his comments differently.