British Columbia

B.C. Liberal candidate criticized for voting against rainbow crosswalk in Langley

A B.C. Liberal Party candidate and Langley Township councillor is under fire for voting against endorsing a rainbow crosswalk. 

NDP candidate Spencer Chandra Herbert calls on Liberals to fire Margaret Kunst

Margaret Kunst was one of three Township of Langley councillors who voted on Sept. 21 against endorsing the painting of a rainbow crosswalk between the local RCMP detachment and the school board office. The endorsement ultimately passed. (Township of Langley)

A B.C. Liberal Party candidate and Langley Township councillor is under fire for voting against endorsing a rainbow crosswalk. 

Margaret Kunst was one of three councillors who voted on Sept. 21 against endorsing the painting of a rainbow crosswalk between the local RCMP detachment and the school board office.

Kunst, a candidate for Langley East, did not comment on the endorsement during the nearly 30-minute discussion among councillors before voting against it.

The endorsement ultimately passed and the rainbow crosswalk will be painted at no cost to the township. 

The rainbow crosswalk is a show of support for the LGBTQ community and was supported by the RCMP and school board. 

Stacey Wakelin, a member of the Langley Pride committee, said she's dismayed but not surprised that Kunst voted against the crosswalk, which she said is a simple project that doesn't need to be stalled. 

"It's just disappointing because all it is is a symbol of diversity, it's a symbol of acceptance for the LGBTQ residents who live here," Wakelin said.

"I'm not certain the B.C. Liberals really, truly care about having candidates that respect or celebrate diversity or that believe in equality for everyone."

Kunst did not response to a request for comment from CBC News. 

Spencer Chandra Herbert, NDP candidate for Vancouver West End–Coal Harbour, is calling on B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson to fire Kunst as candidate in her riding.

The party has an opportunity to choose a candidate who "better reflects the values of British Columbians," he said.

"They're beautiful, they speak to safety, they make people feel welcomed and accepted," Chandra Herbert said Tuesday in front of the rainbow crosswalks in Vancouver's West End.

"LGBTQ people count, they matter, and taking them for granted or completely ignoring them as [Wilkinson] seems to be doing by standing with people who oppose their rights is not OK."

Stronger vetting process needed: Langley Pride

Earlier this year, the Vancouver Pride Society banned the B.C. Liberals from its virtual pride parade after the party failed to take action against Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness, who was accused of homophobia and transphobia. 

The party caucus also billed more than $2,000 for ads in The Light Magazine, a Christian publication that included articles that opposed transgender rights.

Throness defended an article about conversion therapy, a widely discredited practice that claims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Wakelin said removing Kunst as a candidate isn't unreasonable and she believes there should be a stronger vetting process for candidates. 

She says her community has a reputation for not being inclusive, but Wakelin thinks that's changing.

"I keep thinking we're moving forward and then we just keep getting pulled back," Wakelin said.

"I hope to see this election bring some change for this community."

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