Candidates for the 2020 Provincial Election in the Chilliwack-Kent riding met up for an All Candidates Meeting on Oct. 14. The first question for the panel dealt with LGBTQ+ legislation, a hot topic in the riding. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Candidates for the 2020 Provincial Election in the Chilliwack-Kent riding met up for an All Candidates Meeting on Oct. 14. The first question for the panel dealt with LGBTQ+ legislation, a hot topic in the riding. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Throness defends himself on conversion therapy during Chilliwack-Kent meeting

BC Liberal candidate: ‘I decry and oppose any course of practice to try to change another’s identity’

An all candidates meeting for the Chilliwack-Kent riding kicked off with statements on LGBTQ rights and quality of life.

The four candidates vying for the seat in the provincial election were asked if they will “commit to supporting any legislation that further improves the recognition of rights and quality of life for LGBTQ individuals?”

But the meeting started with introductions, and Laurie Throness dove right into the issue of conversion therapy, and how he’s been portrayed by others.

“Some of my political opponents have tried to cast me as strong supporter of conversion therapy, but that’s just wrong,” he said. “In fact, I’ve never made a statement about conversion therapy and I decry and oppose any course of practice to try to change another’s identity.”

He added that he has “always publicly affirmed the dignity and worth of every British Columbian.”

The meeting was aired live on the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce’s Youtube channel, and filmed at Cowork Chilliwack with all four candidates participating. The public could send in questions via a website, and others could vote on whether the questions should be asked.

When asked the first question, Libertarian Eli Gagné said he would be “more than happy to look at” legislation that would uphold LGBTQ rights.

“I think that we should be in a world where we don’t have to have any segregation,” he said. “We’re all the same.”

“LGBTQ rights are human rights. Trans rights are human rights,” offered Jason Lum, a current Chilliwack city counsellor who is running as an independent.

“I think it’s telling that Mr. Throness has to start the debate in his introduction already defending some of his views and things that have been said about him,” he said. “People need to feel connected to their MLA, regardless of their faith, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity… I will fight for more inclusion at the decision-making table.”

Kelli Paddon, running for the BC NDP, also said “it’s telling that the people of Chilliwack-Kent have asked” the question.

“The reason we keep talking about this is because it keeps being an issue,” she said. “I would like to be very clear that I am an ally.”

She said her career has been “devoted to amplifying the voices of people who need to be heard” and that the issue is non-negotiable for her.

Throness once again stated he is for “equality for all.”

READ MORE: Liberal bill outlaws conversion therapy for kids, non-consenting adults

“I have affirmed quality for all and those are my personal feelings,” qualifying that by saying he has also read a lot of tabled legislation.

“You have to look at what is in the legislation. I don’t at all rule it out but I would have to look at it, and I look forward to the BC Liberals bringing it forward.”

But the BC Liberals haven’t tabled any LGBTQ-specific bills in the past.

In B.C. legislature in 2019, the BC Greens tabled Bill M218: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act, 2019. It received one reading but then died when the NDP didn’t move it forward for discussion.

There are only a handful of provinces and cities that ban conversion therapy and there is no federal law against it.

A bill to ban conversion therapy was presented in March this year by the federal Liberals, just prior to the pandemic. It died during the prorogue of government. They re-introduced the bill on Oct. 1. The bill, which includes criminal punishment for those in contravention of the law, would not apply “to those who provide support to individuals questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as parents, friends, teachers, doctors, mental health professionals, school or pastoral counsellors and faith leaders.”

As for Throness’ history on LGBTQ issues, in July 2016 he spoke at the B.C. Liberal Caucus on Bill 27, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, saying “gender is not divorced from one’s identity.”

Bill 27 introduced legislation that made B.C.’s Human Rights Code more explicit in protecting transgender people in the province, adding “gender identity or expression” to the protected ground covered by the code.

Throness told the Liberal Caucus that his beliefs about gender identity are rooted in the Christian faith, that “biology is destiny” and “how we are born is who we are meant to be.”

He said at that time, that as a matter of law, “the bill was unnecessary.”

This summer, a push began to remove Throness from the BC Liberal Party due to his perceived lack of tolerance for all people. He was one of several Liberal MLAs who advertised in a Christian magazine that publishes anti-LGBTQ material.

Throness also spoke recently against the NDP platform promise to provide free contraception to everyone, saying it has an “odour” of eugentics.

READ MORE: NDP wants Chilliwack-Kent MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

***

The Chilliwack-Kent meeting was the second of two in the evening, hosted by the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce and Chilliwack Healthier Communities.

The first was for the Chilliwack riding and included six candidates: John Martin (BC Liberals, incumbent), Diane Janzen (BC Conservatives), Dan Coulter (BC NDP), Tim Cooper (BC Greens), Josue Anderson (Independent), and Andrew Coombes (Libertarian). Martin called in via videoconferencing.

Jeff Hammersmark, who initially was running in Chilliwack-Kent under the BC Greens banner but has not been campaigning, did not participate.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020LGBTQ

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kastor Hansen gets the right timing on the double-Dutch ropes, cheered on by principal, Bruce Becker. For the past 10 years, Becker has been Silver Creek Elementary’s principal, he is now moving on to become principal at Coquihalla Elementary School. (Barry Stewart/Hope Standard)
Bruce Becker to be Coquihalla Elementary’s new principal, leaving role at Silver Creek open

Longtime SD78 educators Monique Gratrix and Peter Flynn are retiring

A woman holds a packet of contraceptive pills. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Chilliwack women’s organization among those lobbying for free contraception

Ann Davis Society says while it’s a women’s issue, all of society would benefit from program

Peggy Ardnt (left) and Ed Ardnt (right) present the symbolic first poppy to Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Leo Facio. This presentation is traditional across Canada to share awareness of the poppy campaign leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Agassiz Legion presents first symbolic poppies

Local dignitaries accepted the poppies, continuing a long-standing tradition

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:56 a.m., Oct. 29.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Left lane is blocked, traffic backed up to No. 3 Road

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

Most Read