Vaughn Palmer: Liberal’s misspoken words on diversity shine light on her own party’s failing
VICTORIA — B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Renee Merrifield drew scorn last weekend when she accused the New Democrats of practising “token diversity.”
“They still have five — no offence to anyone in the room — middle-aged white dudes controlling their entire party,” charged Merrifield during an online leadership forum Saturday. “They have a photograph of diversity. They have token diversity. But they don’t have it real.”
The NDP doesn’t have “real” diversity?
With persons of colour as ministers of economic development, labour, advanced education, child care, trade, infrastructure and tourism? In a gender-balanced cabinet with women as ministers of finance, forests, education, municipal affairs, agriculture, and children and family development?
Even the bit about the “five white dudes controlling their entire party ” was off the mark.
She meant the premier, the government house leader, the whip, the caucus chair and the party president. Only the first two have controlling power. The others are mere functionaries compared to most cabinet ministers.
The reaction to Merrifield’s comments was not long in coming from the NDP side: “insulting,” “undermining,” and just plain “wrong.” And those were the printable ones.
The Kelowna-Mission MLA, one of six candidates for the Liberal leadership and the only woman in the field, protested that the “token diversity” comment was wrenched out of context.
“I never want diversity to be token,” Merrifield said Tuesday, coming to her own defence in an interview with Bhinder Sajan of CTV News. “So I regret so much that it was understood that way.”