Joe Oliver cancels speech at men-only club in wake of social media criticism

Joe Oliver cancelled a lunchtime talk at a men-only athletic club in Toronto just two hours before it was to begin following a wave of criticism on Twitter.

Joe Oliver cancelled a lunchtime talk at a men-only athletic club in Toronto just two hours before it was to begin following a spate of criticism on Twitter. 

Although the Cambridge Club event had apparently been booked in mid-August, the speech only began to attract attention on Twitter early Wednesday morning.

The club's membership page says that a typical member is "competitive and clever with lots of accomplishments under his belt and plenty of old school charm."

"We're the number one choice for men who want to stay fit and enjoy life to the fullest," the page reads. "Let's hear it for the Bay Street Boys, the contenders, the connoisseurs, the tastemakers and the suits."

Oliver, who is the Conservative candidate in the riding of Eglinton-Lawrence and has been Stephen Harper's finance minister for the past year and a half, has been a member of the health club since it opened in 1973, according to the Financial Post. 

Oliver's re-election campaign would not say why the event was cancelled, but defended the minister's choice of venue.

"Joe Oliver speaks to many groups, organizations and individuals in many places on a variety of topics, including the economy, security and leadership," his campaign said in a statement.

Though the event was cancelled, Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland crashed the club Wednesday afternoon. Freeland, who is running in Toronto's University-Rosedale riding, said Oliver should discuss the economy at a public event.

"This finance minister, who refuses to speak to the House of Commons, who is unavailable to the press, had a plan to give a private meeting in a private club and talk about the Canadian economy there," Freeland said in the lobby of the hotel that houses the club.

Marco Mendicino, Oliver's Liberal opponent in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, said Oliver's decision to speak at the club shows how "out of touch" he is with his constituents. 

"It's a real slap in the face to the families here that he'd rather be downtown speaking to a private, exclusive club," he told CBC News. 

Much of the reaction on Twitter questioned why Oliver would give a talk to a men-only club which is open to members and their guests only. 

Ontario Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod thought that it was much ado about nothing. 

Then mid-morning on Wednesday, without much explanation, the cocktail luncheon was cancelled. 

The general manager of the club, Dean Brown, announced the cancellation on Twitter. 

With files from the Canadian Press


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