A veteran Conservative MP has apologized for referring to the federal environment minister as "climate Barbie," a sexist insult apparently lifted from Rebel Media.
Gerry Ritz, the former agriculture minister who announced last month that he is leaving federal politics after two decades, made the remark on Twitter Tuesday. Ritz was responding to a tweet quoting a U.S. professor saying no major industrialized country is on pace to meet Paris climate targets.
"Has anyone told our climate Barbie!" Ritz offered.
The tweet was deemed offside by many on social media and later deleted. Ritz later took to Twitter to say the use of "Barbie" wasn't reflective of the role Environment Minister Catherine McKenna plays.
I apologize for the use of Barbie, it is not reflective of the role the Minister plays— Gerry Ritz (@GerryRitzMP) September 20, 2017
The Rebel, a controversial, far-right website from which many federal Tories are now keeping their distance, has often referred to McKenna as "Climate Barbie," with contributors likening her to a talking doll.
Before Ritz deleted the tweet, McKenna responded by asking if the MP uses that language about other women in his life.
Do you use that sexist language about your daughter, mother, sister? We need more women in politics. Your sexist comments won't stop us. https://t.co/WVMnm7EyEY— Catherine McKenna (@cathmckenna) September 20, 2017
Thanks to everyone who has my back. I love my job. But some days it's hard. It matters that you call people out. 👏👍💪😊— Catherine McKenna (@cathmckenna) September 20, 2017
Maryam Monsef, minister for the status of women, took to Twitter to call out Ritz's "gender-based name-calling."
Tory MP Michelle Rempel, who has spoken out about the sexism women often face in politics, also weighed in Tuesday night.
No defence. Gerry is a friend & has always been supportive of me, but I'm glad he did the right thing and apologized and deleted that tweet. https://t.co/CBrdpWtwhu— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) September 20, 2017
Rempel shared a 2015 YouTube video where she was compared to a talking doll.
"I just sucked it up. Maybe I shouldn't have," Rempel wrote.
But while we're on the topic of Barbies, I was told the guy who did this has funding from various arts councils.https://t.co/9edf6SY4ob— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) September 20, 2017
This was widely shared. I just sucked it up. Maybe I shouldn't have. https://t.co/sdd3NOTw6C— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) September 20, 2017
But if you must refer to me as Barbie, it's the Hon. Tax and Spend Fighting Kick Ass Take No Prisoners Barbie, PC MP, to you. https://t.co/EdM9fP3rcd— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) September 20, 2017
This isn't the first time Ritz has landed in hot water over his words.
Last October, Ritz suggested in the House of Commons that then-international trade minister Chrystia Freeland needed "adult supervision" during the Canada-European Union trade negotiations.
Ritz, who was then the Tory trade critic, accused Freeland of having a "meltdown" when she fought back tears during media interviews after walking away from talks in Brussels at the time.
Freeland later responded by reminding him that she was an adult, as was everyone in the House.
"I am 48 years old — I think I have the wrinkles and the grey hair to prove it — and I'm proud of the things I've accomplished in my life," she said at the time.
In 2008, Ritz faced calls to resign as agriculture minister for joking that a deadly listeriosis outbreak, which resulted in more than 20 deaths and a huge recall of meat, was death by a thousand "cold cuts."
He also reportedly quipped at the time that he hoped one of the deaths was a Liberal MP Wayne Easter.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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