Canada

Tory called 'disrespectful' to women

Conservative MP Brian Pallister said he would give a "woman's answer" to a question about his future in politics, a comment that has drawn fire from the Liberals.

Pallister is running for re-election in his south-central Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar. But he's also testing the waters for a possible run to become the next leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

"I am copping what's known as a woman's answer, isn't it? It's a sort of fickle kind of thing," he said, responding to criticism that a federal election campaign is no time for a candidate to be examining other job prospects.

"I can do that, and I'm doing it now. There are always people on the sidelines that are going to be critical. I'm not worried about them. I'm not concerned about the critics."

Liberal MP Anita Neville, who is running in Winnipeg South Centre, said Pallister's comment is shocking.

"In a time when we're trying to attract more women into the political process, where we're trying to engage more women in politics, to be addressed in such a disrespectful, derogatory way is absolutely astounding," she told CBC News.

In previous election campaigns, the federal Liberals have scored big political points by highlighting statements from rival candidates they characterized as insensitive. But Neville says her feelings on the issue run deeper than that.

"Was I playing politics? I don't see myself playing politics," she said. "I see myself legitimately responding to what I think is an outrageous comment by somebody who aspires to leadership in this province, in this country, and his view of women."

Neville says comments such as Pallister's this week make it even harder to attract women to politics.