Langley MLAs Mary Polak and Rich Coleman are among the Liberals who used their taxpayer funded communications budgets to buy ads in Langley-based conservative Christian magazine, The Light. (file)

Langley MLAs Mary Polak and Rich Coleman are among the Liberals who used their taxpayer funded communications budgets to buy ads in Langley-based conservative Christian magazine, The Light. (file)

Controversy over MLAs buying ads in B.C. magazine that opposes trans rights

Reaction was quick, and negative

Reaction was immediate and negative to news that several Liberal MLAs have used taxpayers money to run ads in a B.C. Christian magazine that has run stories opposed to transgender rights, to medical assistance in dying, and spoken out against banning so-called “conversion therapy.”

Shortly after the story broke on Tuesday that a number of Liberal MLAs, including party leader Andrew Wilkinson had bought ads in the Langley-based “The Light Magazine,” Wilkinson issued a statement on Twitter promising to take action.

”There is no room in the BC Liberal Party for homophobia, transphobia, or any other form of discrimination,” Wilkinson said.

“Going forward, we are taking immediate steps to ensure our advertising decisions reflect those values at all times.”

Coleman said the idea of buying a group ad in the magazine had come from the Liberal caucus, and he expected that process would be adjusted in future.

That said, the veteran MLA added buying a seasonal “good wishes” message does not represent his endorsement of the positions taken by the publication, any more than the ads he runs in local newspapers do.

“Sometimes, I don’t like your editorial content, but I still buy ads,” Coleman commented.

He went on to say that The Light was a way of reaching out to the Christian community, no different than reaching other religions through other publications.

Black Press Media has reached out to MLA Polak, as well as The Light Magazine. But prior to deadline, there was no response.

It was “very disturbing” but not a great surprise, to Art Pearson, the public outreach coordinator for the Hominum Fraser Valley support group – which holds monthly meetings in the Langley area for gay, bi-sexual, and questioning men.

“There are going to be some people who never change [their views],” Pearson told the Langley Advance Times.

Pearson, who described himself as a religious person and member of the United Church, said he supports an inclusive, tolerant version of Christianity.

He suspects the ads were purchased without full knowledge of the magazine’s contents.

“Somebody in the Liberal Party should have done their homework,” Pearson commented. “They were sloppy.”

He suggested the party could best make amends by spending ad dollars to amplify the message of Wikinson’s lone Tweet.

READ ALSO: Gay TWU alumni say school atmosphere not welcoming

READ ALSO: ‘More vital now:’ Gay-straight alliances go virtual during COVID-19 pandemic

For Langley inclusion activist Stacey Wakelin, the most “unfortunate” part of this story is the fact that the MLAs reportedly used their constituency office allowance designated for communications with their constituents.

“It’s the fact that it’s taxpayers money is what really frustrates me,” Wakelin said.

She thinks it is possible that the ads ran in error, but Wakelin thinks it is just as likely that the MLA were playing to their core support.

“You’re looking at career politicians who cater to their base,” Wakelin said. “I hope they will use this as a learning experience.”

A March 2020 article in The Light, which describes itself as “a free monthly Christian lifestyle magazine,” disputed claims about the harm done by conversion therapy.

“Contemporary [conversion] therapists are more likely to rely on talk, visualization, prayer, social skills training, psychoanalytic or group therapy,” the article stated.

It warned banning conversion therapy “could actually have far-reaching impact on pastoral care and support groups,” predicting “the shore of religious freedom is indeed being eroded again.”

Endorsing conversion therapy was especially offensive to Wakelin, because she personally knows people whose “lives were ruined” by attempts to forcibly change their sexual orientation.

“It’s 2020,” Wakelin went on to say. “Why do we keep having these conversations?”

Wakelin, who has opposed what she believes to be anti-gay activism in the community, is currently on the board of the Triple A Senior Housing and Langley Pos-Abilties societies, while additionally organizing On the Table – a community dinner held for citizens to break bread and meet each other.

Other Liberal MLAs seen in a 2019 ”Happy Thanksgiving from the B.C. Liberal Caucus” ad that ran in the magazine were; Langley MLA Mary Polak, Langley East MLA Rich Coleman, Surrey – Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt, Kamloops – South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong (which also serves a northeast section of Langley) , Vancouver – Langara MLA Michael Lee, Vancouver – False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan, Abbotsford – Mission MLA Simon Gibson, and Chilliwack – Kent MLA Laurie Throness.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

LangleyLGBTQ

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

The Princeton Food Bank will eventually be located on First Street in the former United Church 
building. (Spotlight photo)
Princeton’s food bank to get new downtown home

Baptist church acquires former United church building

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

Most Read