A BC Liberal candidate in Langley is stirring up controversy for a decision she made hours after she was appointed by the party.
Margaret Kunst is also serving as a Township of Langley councillor and on Sep. 21, she was one of three councillors who voted against endorsing a rainbow crosswalk.
Stacey Wakelin, a member of Langley Pride and local activist, said the results were concerning.
“It shocks me. We’re in 2020 and we seem to keep having these same conversations. And it was, quite honestly, a big disappointment,” Wakelin told CTV News.
The endorsement was passed by the rest of council.
The crosswalk will be painted on 222 Street and 48A Avenue, between the local RCMP detachment and school board, and comes at no cost to the township.
“She first accepts the nomination and then votes against a rainbow crosswalk. It makes me wonder if she is truly representing the entire community, or just a very slim margin,” Wakelin said.
During the 25-minute decision, Kunst did not speak out on why she was against the endorsement.
“It’s also disappointing to me that she didn't weigh in. If you are going to vote against something like that, as a resident as a voter, I would like to hear your thoughts,” Wakelin said.
The BC Liberals have been accused of homophobia and transphobia earlier this year when the party paid for advertising in a socially conservative magazine that defends conversion therapy.
In response, Vancouver Pride Society banned the BC Liberals from participating in its virtual events.
At the time, leader Andrew Wilkinson said there is no room for homophobia and transphobia in the party and they are working to review their advertising policy.
“I mean, you have to walk the walk, you can't just talk the talk. It's easy to say things, it's harder to do things. Leaders act. And I think Andrew Wilkinson needs to act here and he needs to fire her as a candidate,” said Andrew Mercier, the NDP candidate for Langley.
The electoral district has been a BC Liberal stronghold.
Rich Coleman had held onto the seat since 1997 and is now retiring.
UBC political science professor Gerald Baier said Kunst’s position on the crosswalk doesn’t help the Liberals’ attempt to appeal to the LGBTQ community, but it likely won’t shake things up in the electoral district.
“It's not necessarily the kind of thing that would hurt them in a strong riding...but I think it is concerning probably overall to the party and its chances in the rest of the province,” Baier said.
Kunst was not available for an interview.
In a statement, she wrote, "I believe in the equality and dignity of all people. That's why I voted in favour of developing an 'equity and dignity framework' that would establish general principles for handling such requests instead of handling them on (sic) ad-hoc basis. This would include crosswalk, flag raising and other commemorations. Going forward, I would support recommendations to council that have followed that process."
A BC Liberals party spokesperson said Kunst is still a township councillor while she runs in the provincial election.