OTTAWA - Justice Minister Peter MacKay's wife is making a spirited defence of her husband over comments recently attributed to him about female judges.

In a letter to the Globe and Mail, Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay lashes out at both the media and the group of lawyers who attended a session in which MacKay reportedly said women were leery about becoming judges.

The Toronto Star reported that MacKay said women were afraid of being sent to work as judges on the circuit courts.

The report generated widespread criticism including from the justice ministers of both Ontario and Quebec.

His wife said MacKay's comments have been misrepresented in the media, which she likened to a "24-hour news cycle, National Enquirer-TMZ mentality."

She writes that organizers of the private meeting of lawyers have turned down her husband's request to release the audio recording of his comments to lay the matter to rest.

"Instead, they run to the anti-Conservative media with hearsay and, of course, he is savaged by his accusers, political opponents and press," Afshin-Jam MacKay writes in a response to an open letter on the subject by Globe columnist Leah McLaren.

Afshin-Jam MacKay goes on to explain that her husband made a passing reference in the speech of the bond she has with the couple's infant son and contends that reference was tied with the reference of fewer women applying for judicial positions and misrepresented.

"Ironically he is presumed guilty without any evidence, only hearsay," she writes.

Eyebrows were also raised over emails MacKay sent to staff marking Mother's Day and Father's Day.

The Mother's Day email salutes moms for juggling two full-time jobs — home and work, while the Father's Day message was quite different, making no mention of any household duties, but saying the men were "shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders."

Both emails were obtained by The Canadian Press.

In her letter to the Globe, Afshin-Jam MacKay notes that most of the senior officials in her husband's office are women and they approved the messages, which she said were written by female staffers in the Justice Department.

On Wednesday, Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee accused MacKay of making "deplorable" comments and suggested he was out of touch with the times.

Ontario's Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur also took issue with the suggestion women weren't applying for judgeships.

MacKay didn't deny the Toronto Star's portrayal of the comments regarding judges comments, but posted on Facebook that he has been trying to encourage more women to seek a career on the bench.

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  • An important part of achieving what we set out to do -- and something that seems to be particularly difficult for women -- is overcoming bumps in the road we may experience along the way. We forget that failure is often a necessary part of eventual success. In order to remind ourselves of this, we've gathered the stories of seven fearless women who experienced failure before ultimately becoming legends in their respective fields.

  • 1. Lucille Ball

    Lucile Ball is now remembered as the first woman to run a major television studio (she gained full control of <a href="http://tviv.org/Desilu_Productions" target="_blank">Desilu Productions</a> in 1962) and the winner of <a href="http://www.askdrrhonda.com/2011/08/lucille-ball-businesswoman-extraordinaire/" target="_blank">most every major </a>entertainment industry award (including 13 Emmy nominations and four wins), but her success was hardly immediate. In fact, Ball's first films were failures, and she was even dubbed the "<a href="http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3860.html" target="_blank">Queen of the 'B' Movies</a>" in the 1930s and 1940s. Luckily for all of us, Ball went on to star in "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043208/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank">I Love Lucy</a>" and pave the way for women in the entertainment industry.

  • 2. Marilyn Monroe

    Though Marilyn Monroe became a successful actress (whose films grossed <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/marilyn-monroe-9412123" target="_hplink">more than $200 million</a>), her <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/leaming-marilyn.html" target="_hplink">first contract with Columbia Pictures expired in 1948 </a> before she had acted in a movie. Soon after, though, <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/the-man-behind-the-magic-johnny-hyde" target="_hplink">Monroe met agent Johnny Hyde</a>, who took her under his wing. Eventually she landed roles in "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042208/?ref_=sr_1" target="_hplink">The Asphalt Jungle</a>" and "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042192/?ref_=sr_1" target="_hplink">All About Eve</a>" and the rest is Hollywood history.

  • 3. Oprah Winfrey

    Before Oprah hosted a talk show that dominated daytime TV for 25 years and became the queen of her own media empire, she was demoted at one of her early jobs. After working as a news co-anchor on <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/sun-magazine/bs-sm-oprahs-baltimore-20110522,0,1545333,full.story" target="_hplink">Baltimore's WJZ-TV for seven and a half months</a> in her early twenties, Oprah was put on morning TV (the "morning cut-ins" as <a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/oprah-on-her-time-at-wjz-humiliated-embarrassed-and-sexually-harassed_b10378" target="_hplink">she recalls</a>) -- a significant step down from her original role. But the experience wasn't all bad: <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/sun-magazine/bs-sm-oprahs-baltimore-20110522,0,1545333,full.story" target="_hplink">Oprah met her best friend Gayle</a> while working in Baltimore, and her initial failure arguably launched her on her path to incredible career success.

  • 4. Vera Wang

    Vera Wang's path to becoming the insanely successful designer she is today was hardly conventional. First, Wang -- who was a competitive figure skater in her youth -- <a href="http://www.nypost.com/pagesixmag/issues/20100211/Vera+Wang+Ice#axzz2ZWIJM3ti" target="_hplink">failed to make the 1968 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team</a>. Thankfully for fashion fans, this failure prompted Wang to take a job as an assistant at Vogue in 1971, where she was <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/vera-wang-9542398" target="_hplink">promoted to senior fashion editor</a> within a year at 23. <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/vera-wang-9542398" target="_hplink">After 15 years with the magazine</a>, Wang was ultimately <a href="http://www.levoleague.com/articles/career-advice/vera-wang-career-lessons" target="_hplink">passed over for the editor-in-chief position</a>. But she ended up exactly where she needed to be and is now an incredibly <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/fashion/designers/vera-wang/" target="_hplink">successful and iconic fashion designer</a>. It's hard to even think of wedding attire without her name coming up.

  • 5. Stephanie Meyer

    Before the <em>Twilight</em> series broke <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2008-08-03-breaking-dawn-sales_N.htm" target="_hplink">sales records,</a> author Stephanie Meyer faced the failure of rejection -- multiple times. Meyer wrote 15 letters to literary agencies and <a href="http://www.literaryrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/" target="_hplink">received 14 rejections</a>. Luckily, one literary agent took her on and <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20091019011138/http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6559505.html" target="_hplink">eight publishers bid</a> on the rights to publish the now wildly successful series which ultimately earned the author a place on the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/stephenie-meyer/" target="_hplink">2011 Forbes Celebrity 100 List</a> (and an ever-growing fortune to boot).

  • 6. J.K. Rowling

    The <em>Harry Potter</em> author's story is practically the stuff of legends. Rowling wrote <em>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</em> (the first book in the series) as a struggling single mother on welfare and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/05/16/publishers-who-got-it-wrong_n_1520190.html" target="_hplink">faced 12 rejections from publishers</a>, eventually <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/jk-rowling-40998" target="_hplink">selling the book for the equivalent of $4,000</a>. The series went on to <a href="http://www.jkrowling.com/en_US/#/works/the-books/" target="_hplink">break numerous sales records</a>, be turned into an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14183632" target="_hplink">incredibly successful</a> <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241527/?ref_=sr_2" target="_hplink">film series</a> and earn a permanent place in the hearts of children and adults all over the world. J.K. Rowling is now <a href="http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/authors/jk-rowling-net-worth/" target="_hplink">worth an estimated $1 billion</a>.

  • 7. Arianna Huffington

    Though Arianna Huffington is one of the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/arianna-huffington/" target="_hplink">most powerful businesswomen</a> out there, she is the first to admit that she is no stranger to failure. While the first book Huffington wrote was well-received, her second book was <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/07/business/arianna-huffington-leading-women" target="_hplink">rejected by 36 publishers</a>. But failure, Huffington has said, is often the key to success. She told<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/07/business/arianna-huffington-leading-women" target="_hplink"> CNN this past March</a>, "You can recognize very often that out of these projects that may not have succeeded themselves that other successes are built." She is now the author of 13 books as well as the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/" target="_hplink">President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group</a>.