'Men are attracted to smiles,' Alberta MLA advised girls on blog

Edmonton-Calder Conservative MLA Doug Elniski apologized late Monday afternoon for controversial comments that he posted on his blog, and insisted that he was not a sexist.
Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski, seen in a photo posted on Facebook, took down his blog on Monday.

Edmonton-Calder Conservative MLA Doug Elniski apologized late Monday afternoon for controversial comments that he posted on his blog, and insisted that he is not sexist.

Elniski posted the text of a speech on June 13 that he said he gives to junior high school students at Grade 9 graduation ceremonies.

Part of the posting included advice to girls saying, "Ladies, always smile when you walk into a room, there is nothing a man wants less than a woman scowling because he thinks he is going to get s--t for something and has no idea what."

It continues, "Men are attracted to smiles, so smile, don't give me that 'treated equal' stuff. If you want Equal, it comes in little packages at Starbucks."

Elniski's blog was taken down on Monday afternoon.

The "advice" shows Elniski does not believe in women's equality, NDP MLA Rachel Notley said Monday.

"I'm also very concerned that this is the kind of message that may be being given at junior high schools that this particular MLA is visiting," she said. "It's hurtful and it sets the issue of women's equality back."

"What does it say about Alberta when a government MLA is telling young girls that their understanding of equality can be found in a diet sweetener at Starbucks?" Notley asked in a news release. "Equal is a woman's right, not a Starbucks sweetener."

MLAs need to be held accountable for the comments they make in public either verbally or on the web, she added.

MLA said he paraphrased comedian

Notley has asked Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach to make it clear that these kinds of sentiments are not the prevailing opinion of members of his caucus.

Reached late Monday afternoon, Elniski said he was apologetic to those who took offence to his blog:  "That's why I took it down," he said.

The comment regarding Equal being a package to pick up at Starbucks was paraphrased from a comedian's routine, Elniski said. The comments have never been part of any speech he gives to students, but simply a preamble on his website, he explained.

"In hindsight, it was a stupid, inappropriate thing to put on the blog," he admitted. "It completely missed the message I was trying to achieve."

Elniski said the message was that men and women should be friendly and approachable in dealing with others.

2nd apology in week

The rookie MLA, who was first elected to the legislature last year, apologized over the weekend for a separate online thread he posted from his Twitter account during Edmonton's Pride Parade on June 13.

Among the tweets he posted were "I am surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians," and "that guy has size-14 stilettos."

The messages offended some members of Edmonton's gay community. Murray Billet, a gay rights activist and a member of the Edmonton Police Commission, said the comments were embarrassing and "narrow-minded."

Elniski said on the weekend he's not insensitive to the gay community, adding that he has a cousin who is gay.

"The Pride Parade was an awful lot of fun and there were some people there that were really, really, really into what they do," he said Monday.

"I really honestly had no malice or anything with respect to what went on at that parade. Those guys get a rough ride all the time."

With files from The Canadian Press