Video call gaffes dominate B.C.’s pandemic election controversies

VANCOUVER —
A recent all-candidates live-streamed video debate during which someone hijacked the forum and posted racist and crude images and words, is but another example of how video calls have had an impact on B.C.’s pandemic election.

With campaigning moving online during B.C.’s pandemic election, video calls have played a prominent role, causing stumbles by candidates of many stripes.

By political standards, an all-candidates forum in Langley was relatively civil and respectful — until about 20 minutes in, when it was hijacked by someone using crude language, nudity and imagery from Nazi Germany.

The disruptions carried on for almost ten minutes before the host regained control by adjusting the settings so viewers could not unmute their own microphones and join the onscreen discussion.

In another incident, a video of BC Liberal North Vancouver-Seymour candidate was posted, and resulted in considerable public uproar.

In the video, Jane Thornthwaite is seen insulting another candidate, the NDP’s Bowinn Ma, during an online roast of retiring colleague Ralph Sultan.

“Bowinn would be right up to him cuddling, cuddling, cuddling…a little bit of cleavage there,” she said, suggesting Ma was using her appearance to gain Sultan’s political favour (Ma later clarified that Sultan is very hard of hearing making it necessary to sit close while speaking with him).

Thorthwaite apologized for the sexist remarks about Ma and continues to run as a member of the BC Liberal party.

But a Chilliwack-Kent candidate didn’t get off so easy after he made comments against birth control during a public Zoom call. He was forced to resign from the party.

“It contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing where, you know, poor people shouldn’t have babies and we can’t force them to have contraception so we’ll give it to them for free,” Laurie Throness said of an NDP proposal to provide free contraception if elected.

Because they have already been printed, Throness will still appear on ballots as a BC Liberal, but he will sit as an independent if he is re-elected.

Those unforced errors prompted NDP Stikine candidate, and veteran politician, Nathan Cullen to take to social media.

“What is it with the BC Liberals and Zoom calls?” he tweeted, perhaps foreshadowing his own Zoom incident.

Caught on a hot microphone ahead off an all-candidates forum, Cullen could be heard making disparaging remarks about BC Liberal rival Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial.

“He’s not well-liked…he’s Haida…in his own community,” Cullen said. “The guy’s going to get bedrock 20 percent…his name is Kinkles.”

Those remarks prompted Cullen to apologize during a video call.

“It was wrong what I said. I take it back entirely,” he said. “And I apologize for the harm that I caused Roy.”

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