Stronach demands MacKay apologize for alleged 'dog' comment

Liberal MP Belinda Stronach demanded an apology from Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay following allegations he referred to her as a dog.

Liberal MP Belinda Stronach has demanded an apology from Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay following allegations he referred to her as a dog in the House of Commons.

"For that kind of comment to be made is just plain unacceptable," Stronach told reporters Friday. "I expect an apology for that."

Stronach said the comments, allegedly made during question period in the House on Thursday,represent the "attitude of this government toward women."

"The fact that no one would take responsibility for this kind of commenttoday I think shows that," she said.

Stronach, the Liberal member for Newmarket-Aurora,said she would accept an apology from MacKay. Asked whether she thought MacKay was "sexist," she saidhe "should answer those questions."

Stronach also accused the government of turning its back on women's rights and criticized recent cuts to women's groups that do advocacy, lobbying or general research.

MacKay refuses questions

MacKay continued Fridayto deny allegations he made the remark.

He refused to answer questions from reporters on whether he would issue an apology, and said the Liberals were trying to distract people with"silly and scurrilous" allegations.

MacKay said the matter has been handed over to the Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken.

"The Speaker will rule on that," MacKay, the MP for Central Nova,said after touring a sewage treatment plant on the Halifax waterfront.

"They can check the record of Hansard. It's not there. It's not there. I said nothing about a dog."

Hansard is the transcribed record of debates in the House of Commons.

TheSpeaker has said there's nothing he can do because he did not hear the comment, it does not appear in Hansardand cannot beheard onthe audio recording of the proceedingsof the House.

The Liberals have said they plan to take the audio recording and try and have it enhanced.

Liberal MP makes allegation

The alleged incident took place during Thursday's parliamentary debate about the Tories' clean air plan.

MP Mark Holland said a fellow Liberal jokingly asked MacKay about the impact of pollution on humans and animals: "What about your dog?"

Holland alleges MacKay motioned in response toward Stronach's vacant seat and replied: "You already have her."

Holland lodged a complaint with the Speaker and has demanded MacKay apologize.

"It's completely unacceptable to call a woman a dog and to point over to her is completely disgusting," Holland, who represents the Ontario riding of Ajax-Pickering, said after the session.

"And he owes Belinda an apology, he owes the House an apology, he owes women an apology."

House needs greater decorum: Kenney

During question period on Friday, Liberal MPs Ralph Goodale and Raymonde Folco andBloc Québécoismember Monique Guay all rebuked MacKay for his alleged comments, saying he owed Canadian women an apology.

Jason Kenney, the parliamentary secretary for the prime minister, said Friday the party trusts the Speaker's judgment on the matter.

"All members could exercise greater decorum in this place," he said.

Kenney said a number of female Conservative MPs have been the target of questionable remarks, including Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, who Kenney said an Opposition member called a "potted plant."

Stronach, MacKay dated

Stronach, a former Conservative leadership contender, had a high-profile breakup with MacKay when she crossed the floor to join the Liberals in May 2005.

The couple had been dating for months and MacKay retreated to his father's farm in Lorne, N.S., giving several emotional interviews and declaring his heart was "a little banged up."

The twice-divorced Stronach has attracted attention in recent weeks after it was alleged that she had an affair with former Toronto Maple Leaf player Tie Domi. The allegation was made in documents filed in a divorce proceeding by the hockey player's ex-wife, Leanne.

Stronach released a statement denying responsibility for the dissolution of Domi's marriage.

MacKay has prompted media speculation about his relationship with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, particularly after her visit to Nova Scotia in September. Rice's spokesperson later denied there was any romantic relationship.

With files from the Canadian Press