Chilliwack school board candidate Carin Bondar says she is suing fellow candidate Barry Neufeld after he called her “a striptease artist.”
Neufeld appeared on the Sept. 21 Action4Canada Empower Hour, an online Zoom meeting that is open to anyone. He talked about the six trustee candidates he’s running alongside, including ParentsVoice BC candidate Richard Procee.
“Richard Procee ran against that striptease artist in the by-election four years ago,” Neufeld said. “We thought he was going to win but something funny happened with the mail-in ballots. In the walk-in polls he won, but when they counted the mail-in ballots, suddenly this extremely left wing person got in.”
Bondar addressed the striptease comment in a news release sent out Oct. 11.
“Creating lies about one’s political opponents and using them to gain power in an election are both categorically illegal,” she said. “Barry Neufeld has done both, and I find myself in a position with only one possible move to make.“
Neufeld’s striptease comment stems from an educational video Bondar made in 2014.
The video was titled ‘Organisms do Evolve,’ and it was about natural selection. A parody of a song by Miley Cyrus, Bondar sits on a wrecking ball as it swings back and forth, dressed in a white tank top, underwear and boots.
In the Cyrus version, Miley licks a sledgehammer. Bondar licks a microscope, and at one point she is nude except for her boots.
During the 2021 by-election, held to fill a vacancy after former trustee Dan Coulter was elected to the BC legislature, Bondar’s opponents zeroed in that video.
The video is still online. Bondar has never denied it was provocative and she has always defended it as a “cheeky way” to talk about evolution.
“I am not a strip-tease artist, nor have I ever been one,” Bondar said. “I am currently a full-time instructor in the Biology Department and the School of Land Use and Environmental Change at the University of the Fraser Valley.”
Bondar’s lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Neufeld dated Oct. 4, suggesting Neufeld’s comment was a deliberate attempt to damage Bondar’s reputation and hurt her chances in the Oct. 15 municipal election.
“We have advised our client that the courts would have no difficulty in concluding that your unfounded and false statement was made with malice in an attempt to injure Ms. Bondar and that your statement constitutes the tort of defamation.”
The letter demanded an “immediate, unreserved, and full public apology” and retraction.
“And that these be circulated, at minimum, across the same media and platforms that circulated your defamatory statement.”
Bondar said there was no response from Neufeld, and she is going ahead with a defamation suit.
“Women in politics have rights,” she said. “We cannot sit idly by while our political opponents make up lies to misguide voters.”
Neufeld did not respond to a request for comment before this story was published.
(Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said the video was made as part of her teaching career at the University of the Fraser Valley but the university clarified she was not working at the school in 2014.)