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John Horgan's Casual Sexism Has No Place In B.C. Politics

04/24/2017 09:04 EDT | Updated 04/24/2017 09:09 EDT

"I'll watch you for a while. I know you like that." Pop quiz -- who said that? Was it the guy on the other end of the phone in a campy, urban legend horror flick? Donald Trump backstage at a Miss America pageant? Sting and the Police, circa 1983?


Alas, no. That was John Horgan, a career politician running to be premier, in the first Leaders' Debate of the campaign speaking to one of his opponents, his only woman opponent -- our current premier, Christy Clark.

I recoiled slightly as those words were spoken, as I imagine many women did who were tuning in that morning. I wasn't the one being patronized, but I still felt it. Women everywhere have at one point or another endured condescending, dismissive, creepy remarks designed to "put us in our place."

I hoped during the course of the debate Mr. Horgan would remember basic human decency and return to a battle of ideas rather than baseless insults, but my hope was sadly misplaced. I lost count of the times he interrupted or spoke over the premier, to the point the moderator had to interject several times to remind him of the principles of decorum and ask him to wait his turn.

We've seen this behaviour from other world leaders. It shouldn't happen here.

The current pop culture term for this behaviour is appropriately titled "mansplaining." Definition -- when a man explains something (usually to a woman) in a manner regarded as patronizing or condescending. It's painful to watch, even worse to endure, and it has no place in 2017, especially from a man hoping to occupy the highest political office in the province.

Watching the premier -- the longest serving female in this role in Canadian history -- be told to "take a few minutes and read something" (yes, that also happened) definitely made my blood boil in real time, but I realized over the course of the day, disappointment had overtaken anger.

Disappointment because I know Mr. Horgan wouldn't even dream of saying that to the other candidate running for premier in this election, Andrew Weaver. Disappointment that he didn't think twice about repeatedly cutting the premier down, calling his behaviour "passionate" rather than the word it deserved, which is "sexist." Disappointment that a leadership candidate had to resort to insulting his opponents because his plan for our province isn't good enough to stand on its own.

christy clark

Current B.C. Premier Christy Clark. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Leadership commands respect, but it also demands it from those who wish to occupy public office. A big part of that is giving respect back to others, despite how you may personally feel about them.

Mr. Horgan has not demonstrated that, in this election or in the legislature as the Leader of the Opposition. In the last two years alone, he has called the premier of British Columbia a cheerleader, all gloss and no go, jolly but incoherent, and all style but no substance. He has suggested she looks "spectacular" in her outfits when touring mills, accused her of being secretly in love with Justin Trudeau and stated she is someone he needs to "bring up to speed on what's actually going on."

We've seen this behaviour from other world leaders. It shouldn't happen here.

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