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

Central Saanich has rejected plans for a pilot project that would allow food trucks in Centennial Park. (Black Press Media file photo)
Central Saanich puts brakes on food truck pilot project

Coun. Carl Jensen questions Central Saanich’s consistency

The Pat Bay Highway was closed for several hours Monday morning after a drug-impaired driver crashed into two hydro poles. (Black Press Media file photo)
UPDATE: Pat Bay closure caused by drug-impaired driver

Man struck two hydro poles, closing a section of the Pat Bay Monday morning

The Victoria Royals will return to the Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign when they open next season against the Vancouver Giants on Oct. 2. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fans expected in the Save-On stands for Victoria Royals’ Oct. 2 home opener

It’ll be the first Western Hockey League action at the arena since March 2020

The City of Victoria is once again offering $50,000 for selected neighbourhood enhancement projects, through its participatory budgeting program. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria neighbourhoods can earn city funding for projects

Up to $50,000 available for initiatives that enhance, enrich neighbourhoods

Police are looking for witnesses and video footage after a crash on June 18. (Photo courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP looking for videos related to Corvette crash

Driver believed to have fled the scene of View Royal crash

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

By the end of life, the average North American has eaten the weight of a family sedan in sugar. (Pixabay.com)
FITNESS: Living the sweet life without too much sugar

Simple choices can have a major impact on your health

Most Read