Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness made headlines across the province earlier this month, suggesting the B.C. government carve up a northern mountain to create a money-making tourist attraction.
His idea? Create a sculpture of upraised hands, large enough for multiple tour buses to drive through. He even outlined a business model that would support the cost of such a project.
But the mountain was just one idea among a long, varied list of 65 “ideals” the Liberal MLA released through his social media channels on Sept. 5. And now, the BC NDP party is chipping away at some of those with social consequences.
On Sept. 14, they published their own reaction article to Throness’ list, outlining what they say are the six most contentious ideas. Anne Kang, NDP MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake, contacted The Chilliwack Progress to discuss some of her concerns with the list.
“Some of them seem to ring alarm bells, not the least the one with the mountain,” she said. “One thing that really stood out to me, because I was a school teacher, is that part of (being a leader) is really giving children a safe and healthy environment to grow and learn.”
Throness released his list as a way to influence discussion and thought among those considering running for Liberal leadership, replacing the role left vacant by former-premier Christy Clark. One of the points suggested that society should “teach children to accept and cherish their body shape and biological characteristics just as they are, no matter their gender expression.”
This sticks out as anti-LGBTQ to critics, and Throness has in the past has spoken against the transgender community in the House of Commons.
“I think he’s a bit out of touch with who people are,” Kang said. “We want our kids to be safe, we want them to be loved and cared for. Kids grow up to be adults with dignity and care and compassion, when we show them that when they’re young.”
She says the new NDP government is working toward creating a Human Rights Commission for the province, something she says has been lacking for the past 16 years. “This is in the early stages but we will be committed to working toward it.”
There were other points within Throness’ list that related to families, children and education. One point suggested giving “stable two-parent families with the assistance they need to have the number of children they would like.”
This is wording that eliminates single-parent families, Kang points out, in a time when all families should be receiving the support they need, when they need it.
“What we need to really focus on is that legislation is made for the people, and we should be making legislation around those needs,” Kang said. “This suggest someone is deserving more than others because of circumstances, and I think that’s really unfair.”
Throness has appeared on CBC Radio to defend his ideals list, and has taken to Twitter to underline his commitment to his ideas.
Proud to be officially demonized by the NDP! https://t.co/KA6IpRkWFU
— Laurie Throness (@LaurieThroness) September 14, 2017
“Proud to be officially demonized by the NDP,” he tweeted, shortly after the BC NDP released their article online.
With the amount of province-wide discussion that has been generated on this list, the NDP party is also wondering why no Liberal MLAs have spoken out publicly about some of the more controversial points.
He includes creating a homeless registry to share with the RCMP, committing prolific offenders to drug and alcohol treatment against their will, beefing up private school funds to make public schools “more competitive,” and privatizing health care.
“I’m hoping that members from the other side (Liberal party) would speak up and comment,” Kang said. “One thing we can rest assured on is that he’s not running for party leadership. I’m a little disappointed that nobody has spoken out, but this is only one person’s values.”
She says how out of touch Throness seems to be with his constituency may be “one of the reasons he’s sitting on the other side.”
Being an MLA, she adds, should be about “how to build a community, not tear down a mountain.”