NDP MP Charmaine Borg is calling on Conservative Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais to abandon his Senate seat and run against her in the next election.

The challenge comes just days after Dagenais sent an open letter criticizing Borg and a flyer she sent to his hometown, which also happens to be her Quebec riding.

The flyer called the Senate expensive and undemocratic, particularly in light of the Senate expense scandal.

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NDP MP Charmaine Borg says a letter from a Conservative Senator who took issue with her mailing of an NDP flyer criticizing the Senate was 'misogynistic.' (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Dagenais fired back, calling the flyer a “rag” and suggesting the only reason Borg won in the last election was because of Jack Layton, the NDP's late leader.

He also said Borg knows nothing about the Constitution and told her, "There is a library with a wealth of information on the subject at your disposal on Parliament Hill.”

Borg says the letter is condescending and misogynist.

“The tone insinuated I was nothing but a little girl who knew nothing and I do find that tone very misogynistic. And I do believe that if I was not a young woman I would never have received such a letter,” Borg said in a press conference on Parliament Hill Monday.

Dagenais said Monday he wasn’t being condescending. He said he would have sent the same letter to NDP leader Tom Mulcair. 

“For the future if they attack the institution, I will defend the institution," he told CBC News.

War of words

This is just the latest in increasingly personal attacks between the members of the NDP and the Senate.

Last week, Mulcair implied there were other senators who were going to run into trouble with their expenses, including the Speaker of the Senate, Noel Kinsella.

Witness protection

Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, seen in the foreground discussing a bill last year from then Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, fired back at an NDP mailing that called the Senate expensive and unconstitutional. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

“Conservative Senator Noel Kinsella and Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette pulled the exact same trick as Mike Duffy, the trick that, on Oct. 24, the Prime Minister said was the reason for getting rid of Mike Duffy. Why are Noel Kinsella and Pierrette Ringuette still in the Senate?” Mulcair said last Wednesday.

In an unusual move, Kinsella put out a press release to criticize Mulcair and defend the Senate writ large.

He called the personal attacks “unfounded” and he reminded Canadians that Mulcair, “lives for free in a lovely house in upscale Rockliffe Park at Stornoway.”

The NDP openly attacks the Senate as part of its push to abolish it altogether. Given the party has no senators of its own it is also a way to safely attack both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

But after months of being under intense public pressure, some senators are tiring of the constant criticism and have taken to defending both themselves and the upper chamber.


  • This story has been edited from an earlier version that incorrectly stated the NDP flyer had called the Senate "unconstitutional." In fact, the flyer used the French word for "undemocratic."
    Dec 10, 2013 11:17 AM ET