Former Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien apologized Monday for using a derogatory term for Spanish-speaking people while he tweeted his thoughts from last Friday's U.S. Republican Party debate.

O'Brien, who served as Ottawa's mayor from 2006 to 2010, was tweeting while watching the GOP debate when Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, the president and CEO of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Florida, stood up to deliver a question to the candidates.

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Former Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien wrote two controversial tweets Friday while watching the U.S. Republican Party debate. (Twitter)

From his Twitter account @Larry_OBrien1, O'Brien tweeted, "#cnndebate The spics are getting way to much airtime!"

Just one minute before that, O'Brien also wrote on his Twitter account, "Why is the Jewish community not more involved in this debate? The Islam community want[s] to destroy Israel! #cnndebate."

At a ceremony Monday evening in which his portrait was being unveiled at Ottawa City Hall, O'Brien admitted one tweet, which he later deleted, had come from him.

"That was obviously a tweet that was ill thought through and I did the mea culpa and certainly I regret it," said O'Brien. "There is no excuses."

O'Brien was not available for comment on the tweet about Islam.

O'Brien's mea culpa took the form of a blog post in which he had brushed off the tweet as "politically incorrect."

"What I should have said was that the Latino community were asking questions that were too parochial on what I think is one of the most important elections of this coming century. I didn't say that and for that I apologize to anyone in the Latino community who took offence," said O'Brien.