03/28/2013 01:26 EDT | Updated 05/28/2013 05:12 EDT

Keith Ashfield's 'wonderful wife' backlash continues

A culinary compliment federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield paid to a teenage girl from New Brunswick last week has turned into a national debate over sexism, gender politics and outdated thinking.

The Fredericton MP made the controversial comment at a carefully orchestrated event on March 22.

The staged talk before the media at the home of a Fredericton family was meant to highlight a new federal budget, and the government's emphasis on training young people for jobs the economy needs.

After Ashfield sampled a piece of sweet bread, the Conservative MP told eldest daughter and local high school leader, Grace Moreno, that with her cooking, she would "make a wonderful wife for somebody."

He is still dealing with the fallout from that statement nearly a week later.

'Disrespectful comments' questioned

NDP MP Megan Leslie of Halifax questioned Ashfield about his "disrespectful comments" during Question Period earlier in the week.

"Come on … in other words, 'There, there, stop planning for your future,'" Leslie said. "Is this the kind of response that women can expect from Conservatives with their Economic Action Plan?"

Ashfield didn’t apologize in the House of Commons, instead, he avoided any direct response.

"Obviously, the Opposition has little to find in fault with our budget," he said, "if this is the only type of questioning they can ask in this House."

On March 26, when questioned a second time by Leslie, Ashfield said "We have already dealt with this situation."

Leslie later told CBC News several MPs, including government members, have quietly supported her since the exchange happened.

"I have been contacted by MPs from all three parties in the house, who have said, 'This was totally uncalled for and he should apologize.'"

Meanwhile, Moreno said she was not offended by Ashfield's words, and posted on his official Facebook page, saying "I feel that it was a compliment."

"The day that he visited, our family welcomed him as our guest and treated him with Filipino hospitality. I personally made him a Filipino bread called 'Ensaymada,'" she wrote. "He complimented me on the bread, and I appreciated the thanks."

The cabinet minister's office issued a statement on March 26, saying the comment was taken out of context.