B.C. Liberal MLAs are using taxpayers' money to pay for ads in a Christian magazine that includes articles opposed to transgender rights and medically assisted dying.
The party caucus has billed more than $2,000, listed under various MLA accounts, for ads in The Light Magazine in the 18 months leading up to the end of 2019.
The story was originally reported on Monday in PressProgress, an online non-profit news publication that bills itself as "progressive" and was founded in 2013 by the Broadbent Institute, according to its website.
Receipts showing how members of the B.C. legislature spend their constituency office allowance are publicly available online. MLAs are allowed to bill for communications such as newsletters, flyers or advertisements. Expenses for 2020 are not yet available.
The Light Magazine is described on its website as a free Christian lifestyle magazine that discusses topics such as health, marriage, family, finances, faith and culture. The magazine, which is based in Langley, B.C., says its mission is to connect Christians and encourage participation in local church life.
Past issues have promoted controversial views on topics ranging from transgender rights to medically assisted dying and conversion therapy.
An article in the magazine from 2018 details the rise of a conservative Christian movement that resulted in a document called the the West Coast Christian Accord. That accord, reprinted in The Light, condemns unconventional marriages and those who "adopt a homosexual or transgender self-perception."
In the most recent edition the magazine published an editorial about the struggle of Christianity in COVID-19 times, urging Christians to beware pundits who heighten fear and anxiety to "sell commercials."
Constituency expense receipts show various MLAs billing for ads placed with Light Christian Media Inc.
In December, long-time Langley MLA Rich Coleman alone billed $1,428 for a Christmas ad paid to Light Christian Media Inc. by the B.C. Liberal Caucus.
A sum of $503 was paid for an ad in the magazine's October 2019 edition, showing B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and nine other MLAs in a Thanksgiving greeting.
That ad appears adjacent to an article on sexual temptation that warns of the dangers of pornography, sexual anarchy and orgies.
A few pages after the ad, there is a feature that criticizes a ban on conversion therapy as an assault on freedom of speech.
Conversion therapy is a practice that aims to change an individual's sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, which means identifying with the sex assigned to them at birth. It uses different ways — in some cases, electric shocks — to create aversion to certain stimuli.
In the November edition, a writer in The Light discusses the Delta Hospice Society's move to become a Christian organization and describes the practice of medically assisted dying as "barbaric."
A promotional ad for MLA Marvin Hunt is a few pages away — one of many similar ads Hunt has taken out in The Light, costing just under $150 per issue.
B.C. Liberal MLA Simon Gibson also wrote a monthly column for the publication, offering spiritual advice.
His April 2019 column appeared beside an editorial by Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, a former televangelist and failed People's Party of Canada candidate, that criticized SOGI 123, the sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum taught in B.C. schools.
CBC has reached out to B.C. Liberal MLAs for comment.
At 9:15 a.m. PT Tuesday, Wilkinson tweeted that there is "no room in the B.C. Liberal Party for homophobia, transphobia or any other form of discrimination."
"Going forward, we are taking immediate steps to ensure our advertising decisions reflect those values at all times," he added.
There is no room in the BC Liberal Party for homophobia, transphobia, or any other form of discrimination.<br>Going forward, we are taking immediate steps to ensure our advertising decisions reflect those values at all times.
About the Author
Yvette Brend is a CBC Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@CBC.ca @ybrend
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