'Wrong choice of words': BC Liberal leader apologizes for domestic violence remark
VANCOUVER -- The leader of the BC Liberal Party has apologized after describing victims of domestic violence as "people who are in a tough marriage."
Andrew Wilkinson made the remark while being interviewed by radio station RedFM on Wednesday. When asked for his thoughts on the B.C. government's throne speech, the opposition leader dismissed it as a "huge disappointment."
"There's absolutely nothing in it," Wilkinson said. "They talked about guns in hospitals, which nobody's ever heard of; they talked about rural policing; and they talked about five days' pay for people who are in a tough marriage, and that's it."
Wilkinson was referencing the government's announcement that it would provide up to five days of pay to domestic violence victims, including sexual assault survivors, who are fleeing from their abusers. The measure is a follow-up to legislation B.C. passed last year that ensures that escaping victims can take up to 10 unpaid days off work without losing their jobs.
Mitzi Dean, B.C.'s parliamentary secretary for gender equity, called the comments troubling.
"It shows how out of touch that he is. It really doesn't show understanding of the difficulty of the people in that situation, and how harmful it is, and how prevalent it is across the province," Dean told reporters.
The Ending Violence Association of B.C. also condemned Wilkinson's comments, noting that there are more than 60,000 incidents of domestic and sexual violence in the province every year.
Speaking to reporters at the legislature on Wednesday, Wilkinson said that "tough marriage is part of the whole spectrum of domestic violence," while acknowledging he "should have perhaps mentioned it on a more wider spectrum."
On Twitter, the opposition leader was more contrite.
"This was the wrong choice of words and I got it wrong. Victims of domestic violence need their voices heard and our unwavering support, and I want everyone to know they have that with me," he wrote.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan