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Jane Thornthwaite

Jane Thornthwaite
MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour
Assumed office
May 21, 2009
Preceded by Daniel Jarvis
Personal details
Political party BC Liberal
Children Jeremy, Mallory, Zoe
Residence North Vancouver, British Columbia
Occupation Nutritionist, dietitian

Jane Thornthwaite is a Canadian politician who was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 2009 provincial election. She was elected as a member of the BC Liberal Party in the riding of North Vancouver-Seymour. While her party formed a majority government in the 39th Parliament, Thornthwaite was not included in the cabinet but was appointed to several committees, including the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services and the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth. Thornthwaite has been proactive in engaging with her riding, holding coffee meetings at Parkgate Community Centre and Lynn Valley Library. She writes a monthly column which runs in the Deep Cove Crier.She also sat on the Select Standing Committee on Education and the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives though neither held a meeting during the sessions in which she was a member.

Prior to her election to the legislature, Thornthwaite worked as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for her own consulting business. She was an advocate for labelling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. She is a long-time resident of North Vancouver and graduated from Windsor Hillside Secondary School and the University of British Columbia. She was arrested for drunk driving in February 2010 and charged with driving over the legal limit, during the 2010 Winter Olympics. She pled "not guilty" and reached a plea bargain, pleading guilty to "driving without due care and attention". She has been a strong advocate for animal welfare issues, and has announced plans to introduce a Private member's bill banning puppy mills.


Jane Thornthwaite was raised in West Vancouver, attending Hillside Secondary School and North Vancouver, attending Windsor Secondary School. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in health education. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist,[1] she operated own business in North Vancouver, called Jane Thornthwaite Nutrition Consulting between 1984 and 2005. Thornthwaite was an advocate for organic food[2] and for labelling food products containing Genetically modified ingredients,[3] as well as consumer awareness about livestock practices.[4] Also, in that time, she raised three children of her own.

In 2005, Thornthwaite stood, as an independent,[5] in the North Vancouver School District election. She received the most votes, making her one of four candidates elected from the District of North Vancouver.[5] The school board, facing declining enrolments, had to close schools, though there was resistance from the community. Balmoral Junior Secondary School was specifically identified as a school that ought to be closed, though the board refused and kept it open (until 2009) due to public pressure.[6] Thornthwaite, along with another board member, issued a public statement criticizing the board's decision to enter into a public-private partnership to deliver courses specializing in dance, figure skating and other related disciplines.[7] In the November 2008 election, Thornthwaite was the only board member seeking re-election.[8] Entering her second term, Thornthwaite was elected chairperson of the board.

Provincial politics

With a provincial election coming up, long-time Member of the Legislative Assembly Dan Jarvis was considering retirement and there was speculation that Thornthwaite may step forward to replace him as the BC Liberal candidate in the North Vancouver-Seymour riding.[9] In December 2008, Jarvis confirmed that he would indeed seek re-election in the May 2009 election. However, in March 2009 he suddenly announced his retirement and endorsed Thornthwaite to replace him.[10] Thornthwaite and two other people informed the BC Liberal Party about their interest in being BC Liberal candidate but, after personal interviews, Thornthwaite was selected by the BC Liberal Election Readiness Committee.[11][12] In the election, Thornthwaite faced substance abuse counsellor Mo Norton for the NDP, software developer Daniel Quinn for the Green Party, and Gary Hee for the BC Conservatives. The electoral district was considered one of the safest BC Liberal ridings in the province[12] and the 50 year old Thornthwaite easily won, with her BC Liberal Party winning a majority government. Thornthwaite stayed on as chair of the school board until July 2009.[13]

As the 39th Parliament, Thornthwaite was appointed to three committees but was left out of Premier Gordon Campbell's cabinet.[14] In all four session she served on the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services which travelled the province listening to public input, and provided recommendations for the provincial budget priorities. She served on the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth in the first two sessions. She was appointed to the Select Standing Committee on Education in the first, second and fourth sessions and the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives in the third and fourth sessions but neither committee held a meeting.

On February 22, during the 2010 Winter Olympics, Thornthwaite was arrested for drunk driving.[15] She was driving home after attending receptions at the Northern House and Sochi House when at 1 am she was stopped at a road block near the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing. She twice registered a blood alcohol content of 0.11 in road-side breathalyzer tests and taken into custody.[16] The next day she issued a public apology stating "Drinking and driving is dangerous and completely unacceptable; I know that and make no excuses for what I did. I know what I did was wrong and I will take full responsibility for my actions. I intend to work hard to regain the trust of my constituents in light of this serious mistake and I want to apologize to everyone for my actions."[17] Party leader Gordon Campbell, who himself had faced similar charges in the past, stated that Thornthwaite should not resign her seat[18] and party caucus leader Ron Cantelon stated that she would not face disciplinary actions by the party.[19] A lawyer from Vancouver was assigned to act as a special prosecutor to review the incident[20] and recommended the charge of "operating a motor vehicle while having a blood-alcohol level over .08".[21][22] While she stated an intent not to not fight the charges at the time,[23] she pleaded "not guilty" at the May 12 court hearing and the judge set a trial date for April 2011.[24][25] At the trial, Thornthwaite argued that, while she did consume alcohol, she was not intoxicated.[16] The prosecution and defense agreed to a plea bargain requiring Thornthwaite to plead guilty to "driving without due care and attention" in violation of the Motor Vehicle Act, which came with a $500 fine and one-month of community service but allowed her to avoid a criminal record.[16][26]

Thornthwaite's support for the Harmonized Sales Tax, as well as her drunk-driving charge, made her a target for recall.[27][28] The FightHST group collected 6,903 signatures from her riding in support of repealing the HST[29] and placed Thornthwaite on their list of 18 BC Liberals to investigate for potential recall.[30] In the subsequent HST referendum her riding voted 60% in favour of keeping the HST, though the final province-wide result was 55% against keeping it. Early in the BC Liberal leadership election, Thornthwaite endorsed George Abbott, citing his potential for broad appeal saying "He doesn't have the rhetoric, he doesn't have the partisanship,"[31] and citing his willingness to quickly visit her riding and meet with her.[32] Christy Clark won the party leadership, and became Premier, but did not include Thornthwaite in her cabinet.[33]

Animal Cruelty

Thornthwaite has long been active in animal welfare activism. When entering university, she had originally intended to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. In early 2012, she announced plans to introduce legislation to ban puppy mills in British Columbia, stating that "I would like to have some sort of regulatory standard for breeders so puppy mills or unscrupulous breeders, who are not treating their animals humanely, are put out of business."[34] Pet industry groups have expressed support for her initiative, and Thornthwaite introduced Bill M-214, the "Standards of Care for Breeders of Companion Animals Act", on April 23, 2012.[35]

Electoral history

B.C. General Election 2009: North Vancouver-Seymour
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
     New Democrat Maureen Norton 6,212 27 $17,589

     Conservative Gary Bickling Hee 931 4 $1,186
Total Valid Votes 22,685 100
Total Rejected Ballots 100 0.4
Turnout 22,785 61


External links

  • Legislative Assembly of British Columbia - Jane Thornthwaite
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly - Jane Thornthwaite (North Vancouver-Seymour)
  • British Columbia Liberal Party - Jane Thornthwaite
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