Protecting candidates a priority amid allegations of transphobia

Sunday, October 4th, 2020 - VANCOUVER - The BC Ecosocialist Party has this week pulled all of its candidates ahead of the provincial election amid allegations of transphobia levied against the party by a former director. 

"Since interim leader Stuart Parker stepped down after a screenshot of an alleged transphobic comment went viral on social media, we have faced demands to denounce him and apologize for his personal views," stated executive director Ashwini Manohar. "This week a former director called for the entire provincial council to step down as the failure of the party to condemn Parker is being read as endorsement of his position. On advice of counsel, we have chosen not to issue personal denouncements and expose ourselves to liability for ascribing beliefs to Parker he vehemently denies having. Parker's personal views on gender have nothing to do with our current gender equity policy, which was written collaboratively by women and trans people. He is no longer involved with the party in any meaningful way. However, given the nature of the allegations and to prevent our candidates from further attack and reputational damage, we have elected not to field any candidates. It is also our view that we will not build a broad-based egalitarian party if we permit it to be used to settle personal scores between individuals whose interpersonal issues predate the party's existence by decades," Manohar added. 

"We denounce transphobia in the strongest possible terms and affirm that it has no place in our party. As socialists, we are committed to equity and to fighting for the rights of people who have been marginalized by mainstream society. We have welcomed the involvement of 2SLGBTQQIA people in the party, many of whom have participated in the policy writing process and hold positions on provincial council. In fact, we were still working together to review and update our policies and were about to begin community consultations when the election was called," said policy chair and party spokesperson Deanna Drschiwiski. "I'd like to encourage everyone to review our current gender equity policy for themselves and compare it to those offered by other parties. Let's include everyone in this conversation. The best possible outcome is one where all the parties take a strong stance against transphobia and gender inequity and specify the changes they would make to improve the lives of 2SLGBTQQIA people across BC."

"Building an explicitly socialist party is no easy feat, and one too that is run almost entirely by volunteers. Horgan's unnecessary and irresponsible snap election sent us all reeling - in the pressures of rising to the formidable task of fielding a full slate of candidates, we had to stop planning for our membership convention set to take place in November, and rush to finish the work on our policy document and solidify organizational structure. These allegations have taken the wind out of our sails, certainly, but the work we're doing is vitally important and will continue in the coming months. The party is committed to making the membership convention its next priority after the election," said Manohar.