VICTORIA – Since suggesting on Wednesday that renting was just a wacky rite of passage, BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has had numerous opportunities to clarify his remarks. But so far he has refused to genuinely correct or retract his comments.
On Thursday, CBC reporter Justin McElroy asked Wilkinson repeatedly if he would change his comments, but Wilkinson refused to answer directly. After apparently realizing this was a bad idea, Wilkinson attempted to fix things this morning in interviews with Jon McComb and Stephen Quinn.
When asked if he wanted to rephrase his comments, Wilkinson said: “Sure, why not?” (CBC)
Wilkinson attempted to explain his remarks by claiming he was talking about his own experience:
“I was talking about me at age 21.” (CKNW)
“The reference to wacky was my own life experience in my twenties, so let’s not amplify this completely out of context.” (CBC)
But the record shows that while Wilkinson did bring up his own experience, he clearly believed that his own “fun” experience was universal:
“We’ve seen the same attitude with this government’s approach to rentals. “Let’s protect the renters.” I was a renter for 15 years. I lived in a dozen different rentals. It was challenging at times, but it was fun. It was part of growing up and getting better. We’ve all done it. It’s kind of a wacky time of life, but it can be really enjoyable. Being a renter is a fact of life that’s a rite of passage.”
And instead of taking responsibility for his words, Wilkinson gave a half-hearted apology while attempting to pin blame on the renters who took offense:
“Now if people have misunderstood those remarks as talking about the fate of people throughout our society, I’m sorry.” (CBC)
“So if my remarks are taken or misconstrued, I’m sorry about that.” (CBC)
In response to Stephen Quinn’s questions, Andrew Wilkinson again implied that renting was just a phase that people should move out of:
In his response, Wilkinson said: “As I said, most people rent. I rented for 18 years. And I was fortunate enough to be able to move out of that state.”
Quinn responded: “I guess where people are having difficulty – and there was a lot of reaction to this online – you just said ‘I was fortunate enough to move out of that state.’ The suggestion is that renters are less than people who can afford to own homes.”
BC NDP Housing Minister Selina Robinson:
“The more Andrew Wilkinson talks about renters, the more it becomes clear just out how out of touch he is. Even his half-hearted attempt at apologizing further highlights how little he understands the lives of renters. Given how little he thinks of renters, it’s no surprise that he wants to strip away our government’s caps on rent increases and protections for tenants.”