Gerry Ritz apologizes for calling environment minister 'climate Barbie'
Conservative MP, former agriculture minister, says Barbie 'not reflective' of role McKenna plays
Saskatchewan MP Gerry Ritz has apologized for calling Environment Minister Catherine McKenna a "climate Barbie" on social media Tuesday night.
The apology came about 20 minutes after McKenna and others responded, calling the comment sexist.
On Twitter, the MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster responded to a Yahoo Finance article with the headline "No major advanced industrialized economy is currently on pace to meeting its Paris commitments."
"Has anyone told our climate Barbie!" Ritz wrote Tuesday night.
Later, McKenna said Ritz's "sexist comments" won't stop women from entering politics, and she asked whether he uses that kind of language with his family.
Ritz later deleted the tweet and apologized, saying the word Barbie "is not reflective of the role the minister plays."
It isn't the first time Ritz, a former federal agriculture minister, has said something controversial.
In the midst of a 2008 outbreak of listeriosis that killed about 20 people, Ritz drew widespread condemnation for cracking a joke that the political damage from the issue was "like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts."
He later apologized for the remark, which then prime minister Stephen Harper's office had called tasteless and completely inappropriate.
Ritz announced in August his plan to retire from federal politics this year, and his last day is set for Oct. 2.
Criticism across party lines
Other MPs said Wednesday that Ritz's remark was wrong.
"I'm really glad Gerry apologized and deleted that tweet — I think that's what he should have done," said Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, who said she's also been called a Barbie.
"He's been a friend, he's always supported me, but let's stop calling people Barbies and get on with work."
Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said the tweet was unacceptable.
"It shows that, basically, it's normal to say sexist comments. It's not," she said.
"We can have different opinions in the House and when we talk about democracy, but ultimately we need to show respect for one another. And that was clearly a lack of respect."
NDP MP Nathan Cullen commented: "It's idiotic. Let's have a serious debate about climate change … going into insults and derogatory statements says a lot more about the person sending the tweet than the person receiving it."
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer didn't respond to a challenge during question period from Liberal MP Jim Carr to denounce Ritz's comments.
Scheer's office told reporters he wasn't available for questions following question period.
But in a statement released later Wednesday, Scheer said that as a father of three daughters, he wanted "to ensure that gender-based stereotypes have no place in Canada or Canadian politics."
"The demeaning words used by the member were inappropriate and he has rightly apologized. The minister is in New York today and I am in the process of contacting her so I can assure the minister that this type of behaviour has no place in the Conservative caucus," Scheer said.
"I have a positive message to deliver to Canadians and I expect all members of my caucus to embrace that approach when communicating with Canadians."
Ritz did not appear in question period.
- A previous version of this story stated Gerry Ritz had retired. In fact, while Ritz last month announced his plan to retire from federal politics, he has not yet officially done so and remains listed in the House of Commons MP roster.Sep 20, 2017 10:31 AM ET