Politics

Conservative senator apologizes for berating Ottawa residents in late-night protest rant

A Conservative senator who called for the protests in downtown Ottawa to continue, accused Ottawa residents of being overpaid and under-worked and called his wife a "Karen" apologized for his remarks in the Senate Monday. 

Sen. Michael MacDonald blames blockade on City Hall

Senator Michael MacDonald apology

6 months ago
Duration 3:01
Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald apologized in the Senate for insulting his wife, saying he wanted the Ottawa protest to continue and saying Ottawa residents were entitled.

A Conservative senator who called for the protests in downtown Ottawa to continue, accused Ottawa residents of being overpaid and under-worked and called his wife a "Karen" apologized for his remarks in the Senate Monday. 

On Wednesday evening, Sen. Michael MacDonald was stopped in the parliamentary precinct by a protester with a video recording device.

The Nova Scotia senator asked the protester not to record him as he made the disparaging remarks, which included one reference to his wife as a "Karen" — a derogatory term used to describe someone with an inflated sense of entitlement.

"I would like to take this moment, my earliest opportunity in this chamber, to address the comments that I made last week," MacDonald said.

"I left the impression that I agreed with trucks being illegally parked in the downtown and made some mangled remarks about the sentiments of people in Ottawa regarding the protest.

"I first want to apologize to the people of Ottawa for my clumsy language. It was not my intention to disparage anyone."

"The country's full of Karens, my wife's a Karen," MacDonald says in the video, adding that his wife told him she wanted the protesters occupying Ottawa to leave the city.

"I said, 'Listen they're not going to leave.' I said, 'I don't care if they leave in Windsor or in the other places with the shutting down transportation, but in Ottawa, I don't want them to leave.'"

In the recording, MacDonald is also heard describing Ottawa residents as entitled for calling on the protesters to leave.

"It's everybody's f--king city, this is the capital of the country. It's not your god-damned city just because you have a 6 figure salary and you work 20 hours a week, you haven't worked a full week in two years. It's sickening, it's sickening," he says in the recording.

MacDonald then thanks the protester for "having the courage and decency to come here" and tells him that "he was not alone."

Senators earn an annual salary of $160,800, plus pension and benefits. In 2021 there were 131 scheduled possible sitting days for the Senate but the upper chamber actually only sat for 47 days last year.

WATCH: Sen. Michael MacDonald says Ottawa citizens enjoy 6-figure salaries, 20-hour work weeks;

Senator decries entitled Ottawa Residents

6 months ago
Duration 2:14
Sen. Michael MacDonald thanks a protester a for coming to Ottawa, decries citizens of city for six-figure salaries and 20-hour work week and calls own wife a 'Karen.'

In his apology to the Senate, he told his colleagues that people like himself earning government salaries and pensions need to consider those less fortunate. 

"Politicians and bureaucrats of all three levels of government nationwide, academics, teachers, military people, anyone drawing a pension, anybody directly or indirectly paid by the taxpayer across this country endured the restrictions put on people's lives with little worry," he said. "But over half the people in this country don't have that security. 

"That was the real sentiment that I was wanting to express. That those of us in secure positions should put ourselves in the shoes of those in Canada that don't have income security and certainty."

'This failure is the responsibility of City Hall'

The senator also used his comments to blame the convoy blockade and the ensuing scenes of chaos on the City of Ottawa.

"When I arrived for work over three weeks ago and saw the trucks all over Wellington Street, I couldn't believe that this was allowed to occur," he said. "Ottawa has a professional, well-trained, modern police force which, if properly directed, is more than capable of preventing a situation like this from developing.

"This failure is the responsibility of City Hall."

As he apologized, MacDonald said that he is "mentally exhausted after two years of lockdowns and a third year facing more of the same."

"I can assure all of my colleagues that I am contrite," he said.

"I'm sorry for those that I have disappointed. I particularly want to apologize to my wife, who is the salt of the Earth and the rock of my family. I expect better from me and I will do better going forward."

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to add the actual number of sitting days in addition to the number of possible scheduled sitting days for the Senate.
    Feb 21, 2022 7:35 PM ET

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