06/14/2013 12:50 EDT | Updated 06/14/2013 12:57 EDT

Charlie Angus Accused Of Disrespecting Female RCMP Officer With 'Meter Maid' Quip


Conservatives had a field day in question period on Thursday using NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's embarrassing driving mishap to deflect questions about the Senate expense scandal.

Now it appears Tories are also using the incident to paint another NDP MP as sexist.

It turns out that the RCMP officer who pulled Mulcair over on Parliament Hill was female. Sources told CTV News the NDP leader asked her: "Don’t you know who I am?"

Mulcair apologized and wasn’t issued a citation but that didn’t stop Heritage Minister James Moore from bringing up the incident seemingly any time the NDP opposition asked about Nigel Wright, Senator Mike Duffy or any other controversies during question period.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus eventually grew frustrated.

"I am sure the Conservative caucus might want to sing Lovely Rita Meter Maid all day, but what will they do about coming clean with Canadians about a potentially illegal and indictable offence that happened under this prime minister's watch?" he asked.

While Angus was referring to a classic tune from The Beatles, the use of the term "meter maid" evidently didn't sit well with some female Conservative MPs.

Tory MP Susan Truppe, parliamentary secretary for status of women, rose on a point of order in the House.

"I am not sure if I heard correctly or not, so I wonder if I could have a point of clarification from the member for Timmins—James Bay,” she said. “Did he say in his statement that the female RCMP officer who puts her life on the line every single day was a meter maid? If so, I think he should apologize."

Tory MP Candice Bergen enthusiastically applauded.

But it didn’t stop there.

Rona Ambrose, minister for the status of women, took to Twitter to voice her displeasure.

"Shocking #NDP disrespect for women today. #AngryTom disobeyed a female RCMP officer & Charlie Angus calls her a 'meter maid' #stopmulcair"

Then it was Michelle Rempel’s turn. The young MP appeared with Angus later on CBC’s "Power & Politics With Evan Solomon."

Solomon played a clip of Angus’ quip and gave him a chance to clarify his remarks.

"We are certainly in the silly season here," Angus said. "I’ve seen MPs cry in the House. I’ve seen MPs feel hurt and wounded over all manner of things but I’ve never seen an MP feel hurt and abused because I quoted Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Angus denied he called the RCMP officer a "meter maid" directly.

"I said the Conservative caucus can sing Lovely Rita Meter Maid all day," he said. "I think that’s on side two of Sgt. Pepper. So, if that’s me busted, well, hey, it’s obvious summer’s coming."

Rempel took Angus to task for not apologizing for the statement.

"I so very rarely get to talk about this issue," she said. "I do think that there is an issue with sexism in politics and even something that is perceived is something that’s wrong. I find it disappointing that Mr. Angus, who I actually respect for his level of debate, wouldn’t apologize."

When Solomon asked if she was willing to go so far as to declare the remark as sexist, Angus actually egged her on.

"Say it. Say it," he said. "A Beatles song. Say it."

"I certainly think that if you are trying to slander a female RCMP officer or make light of that it’s not right and I would offer him the opportunity to apologize just out of respect for the position if nothing else," Rempel replied.

"Evan, this is getting pretty silly. We’re dealing with a criminal investigation in the Prime Minister’s Office," Angus said. "I apologize for quoting the Beatles."

What do you think? Did Angus cross a line with his statement or is this much ado about nothing? Tell us in the comments.

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