Yes, Laurie Throness is still an eligible candidate for the Chilliwack-Kent riding.
Questions and confusion began immediately last Thursday (Oct. 15), when it was announced that Throness was no longer a part of the BC Liberal party. The announcement first came from party leader Andrew Wilkinson, who said that Throness had “resigned from campaigning.”
But that wasn’t entirely accurate.
Throness himself has no intentions to quit campaigning. But he did leave the party he’s been a part of for years. The abrupt change has caused some voters to wonder what to do at the ballot box, and if their votes will still count toward Throness. He is the incumbent candidate, with just over seven years as the riding’s MLA.
Many wondered if Throness would still run, where votes for him would end up, and some even wondered if they could vote again.
The Progress reached out immediately to Elections BC for clarity around what’s next.
Andrew Watson, director of communication for Elections BC, confirmed that it is indeed too late for any changes to ballots. Throness will remain on the ballot as a BC Liberal candidate.
“The deadline for a party to withdraw their endorsement of a candidate is the close of candidate nominations,” he said. “Nominations closed on October 2. The deadline for a candidate to withdraw is 48 hours before the start of advance voting,” which started Oct. 15. These deadlines are established by the Election Act.
There have been mail-ballots to consider as well.
Watson confirmed that “any votes cast for a candidate currently on the ballot will be counted for that candidate, whether cast via a write-in ballot, mail-in ballot, or at advance voting.”
And no, voters cannot take their vote back if they’ve voted early.
If Throness were to win the election, then he would sit as an independent. Throness himself confirmed that the day after he resigned.
“I will inform voters that if they vote for me, I will sit as an independent in the House and continue to speak from my heart and my conscience,” Throness said in a statement on his social media pages. “I’m in it to win it.”
Last week, Throness spoke against free contraception in a Zoom meeting. He likened giving free birth control to people in poverty to eugenics. After he confirmed he left the party, he also tweeted further comments about being against free birth control.
“The reason for free contraception, according to this paper given me by @AccessBC which led the charge for it, is that it is cheaper for the govmnt to give away contraception now than to take care of disabled kids later. That concerns me,” he tweeted.
The BC NDP have free contraception in their election platform. Throness called on Kelli Paddon, their Chilliwack-Kent candidate, to “disavow this disgusting motivation.”
3/3 "A dollar on contraceptive support for a woman can save as much as $90 in public expenditure on social supports." @jjhorgan and local disability advocate, Chilliwack-Kent NDP candidate Kelli Paddon, must disavow this disgusting motivation.
— Laurie Throness (@LaurieThroness) October 16, 2020
The meeting where the exchange took place was for a local Rotary, and was intended to be kept private. Paddon challenged his comments during the meeting and also responded to Throness via a statement to The Progress today (Oct. 18).
“I’ve been a long time disability advocate and Throness’s claims are absurd,” she says. “He’s trying to twist himself into a pretzel trying to justify his problematic views. This is a women’s issue and I’m proud to be the only candidate who spoke out at that debate to challenge him. If elected, I vow to amplify the voices of Chilliwack-Kent and be a strong voice at the decision-making table in a John Horgan government.”
Over the weekend, Throness removed BC Liberal logos and mentions of the party from his online campaign material, and many of his election signs around town have been changed to exclude the BC Liberal party. Throness was the first candidate to put signs up around town, on the day the election was called.
Other candidates in the Chilliwack-Kent riding are current city councillor Jason Lum, who is also running as an independent, Kelli Paddon for the BC NDP, Jeff Hammersmark for BC Greens, and Eli Gagné for the Libertarian Party.
General voting day is Saturday, Oct. 24.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.