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Why You Should Never Ask An MP About Her Hair

08/14/2013 05:56 EDT | Updated 10/14/2013 05:12 EDT

The Sun is doing a clarification, but I wanted to do more than that. Here it is:

I owe Glen McGregor a clarification, and perhaps even a correction. But I owe readers some context.

First, the clarification/correction. Back in June, McGregor -- formerly of Frank Magazine, presently of the Ottawa Citizen -- asked MP Eve Adams about expensing hair-care products during the last election. Adams responded (smartly, I thought) on Twitter, and out in the open.

Later, McGregor decided to ask another MP, Michelle Rempel -- who, like Adams, is young, telegenic, Conservative and female -- about whether she also expensed hair care products. McGregor asked Rempel the question in the House of Commons foyer, as she was walking past.

Rempel kept walking, but then sharply turned and addressed McGregor. She was "not amused" by McGregor's question, he later admitted. She asked McGregor if he had asked any of her male colleagues the same question. McGregor -- perhaps feeling sheepish, perhaps not -- acknowledged that Rempel's question was "fair." So he found some male MPs to ask the question.

Rempel later tweeted: "Thank you Glen, on behalf of all women in this place, for singling me out on first instance to ask me to comment on hair product expenses. In doing so, you no doubt, have inspired more women to run for office. And since you asked me to opine on this particular question, rather than my opinion on policy of the day, the answer is no."

When I heard about how McGregor had dealt with Rempel, I thought it was plainly sexist. So did plenty of others, whether Conservatives or not. I also thought Rempel (like Adams) dealt with him in precisely the right way.

This week, I wrote a column about sexism in politics. I cited a number of examples. In one, I wrote that McGregor had asked Rempel about the hair care products she uses. McGregor read that, and called the Sun to demand a correction. He deserves one: he didn't ask Rempel about the hair care products she uses. In fact, he asked her about expensing the hair care products she uses. So, again, I apologize unreservedly to Glen McGregor for my error.

I won't apologize, however, for expressing the opinion that his question to Rempel was sexist. I still think it was, whether it was about hair care expenses or not. Rempel apparently thought the question was sexist, too. Her tweet makes that pretty clear, I think.

Now, here's where the context part comes in.

Glen McGregor is one of the most ardent critics of Sun News. He tweets and writes critical stuff about the conservative TV network more than any other reporter, I would think.

McGregor is also no fan of Yours Truly. Back when he was with Frank magazine, and when me and my then-wife were the target of neo-Nazi threats because of a book I'd written, the magazine published our home address. The Ottawa Police said our lives had been placed in danger as a result. Later on, when we separated, McGregor wrote to me and said I was "silly" because I had objected to the fact that he knew details about our divorce, and was seemingly interested in publishing them.

More generally, I think Glen McGregor is a real piece of work. He was at Frank when the magazine published its now-infamous "Deflower Caroline Mulroney" contest. At the time, Mulroney was a teenager. When her father (appropriately, I thought) admitted he'd contemplated taking a baseball bat to McGregor and crew for their "contest," a member of McGregor's family said that Glen was owed an apology.

Anyway, that's the context. A picture of Glen McGregor -- a former strip club disk jockey -- emerges out of all that. It says a lot more than I ever could.

But is he owed a correction and apology for my big error? Yes, he is.

Now, he can clip it out, and put it in a file next to the "Deflower Caroline Mulroney" contest stuff.

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