McKenna has no regrets about fighting back publicly against sexist comments - InfoNews

Current Conditions

-0.8°C

McKenna has no regrets about fighting back publicly against sexist comments

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna makes her way to speak with media at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Wednesday September 20, 2017. McKenna hadn't been planning to confront a reporter from the Rebel during a news conference last week, but when the right-wing website posed the first question following a meeting with her provincial counterparts in Vancouver, her pent-up frustrations at the outlet's "climate Barbie" tag just came out, she said in an interview Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
November 07, 2017 - 2:08 PM

OTTAWA - Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she hadn't planned to confront a reporter from the Rebel during a news conference last week, but when the right-wing website posed the first question at a news conference in Vancouver, her pent-up frustrations at the outlet's "climate Barbie" tag just came out.

The incident happened at the conclusion of a meeting of provincial and federal environment ministers and McKenna asked the Rebel's Christopher Wilson if he would commit that neither he nor his outlet would use the sexist label anymore.

She concedes it was a little bit "awkward" to raise the issue in that manner but she "just thought it was really important."

"I'm quite pleased I did it and I'm pleased because hopefully it makes ... it more possible for other women and girls to step up and do the same," McKenna said in an interview Tuesday with The Canadian Press.

The ensuing feedback since the incident has been overwhelmingly positive, said McKenna, adding she wants the Rebel and anyone else to stop using sexist names for all women, not just her.

"There's a group of people who continually attack me because of the colour of my hair or supposedly the tone of my voice or all sorts of reasons," McKenna said.

"But it's about making sure that women and girls can see a place for them in politics and recognizing that it's not OK to make fun of women because of how they look."

The "climate Barbie" tag was coined by Rebel media almost as soon as McKenna was named environment minister in November 2015.

The term gained more mainstream awareness in September when Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was forced to condemn its use by one of his MPs.

Gerry Ritz tweeted the slur in the final weeks of his career as an MP but after an online outcry he deleted the post and apologized.

McKenna received bipartisan support both then and this past weekend, with Conservative, NDP and Liberal politicians among those publicly supporting of her decision to confront the Rebel.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, who has also been a frequent target of sexist online trolls, took to Twitter on Sunday with some of the more egregious comments she's received. She said her staff keeps a running daily tally on a white board of the number of sexist calls they receive.

Rempel posted a creepy letter from someone who wrote about whether she was wearing underwear and said if she dressed provocatively no men would listen to what she had to say.

But Rempel also said it angers her that partisans try to pretend there is a political overtone to sexism, or that one party is worse than another.

"Every party has done stupid sexist shit," Rempel tweeted. "Trying to paint it as an issue to one party or another for gain is part of the problem."

She took on those in her own party at the same time and said every woman has the right to call out sexism when they see it.

"Watching people defend the Climate Barbie moniker rather than arguing against the economic model of a carbon tax is revolting," said Rempel.

For her part, McKenna wouldn't apologize for the fact that the Liberals issued a fundraising letter on the back of the 'climate Barbie" issue after the Ritz tweet in September.

The letter stressed the need for more women in politics and said Liberals understand that need.

"I'm not going to apologize for the fact we believe we need to be supporting more women in politics," she said. "That's been a priority of ours and that includes providing financial support for them."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

  • Popular vernon News
  • Comments
  • Police search for missing Kelowna woman
    KELOWNA - Kelowna RCMP are asking for the public's help in finding a missing 27-year-old woman. RCMP say Joenna Saunders was last heard from on Nov. 27. She was reported missing on Dec.
  • Girl opens Christmas present she gave to boy when she dumped him in 1971
    ST. ALBERT, Alta. - A man in Edmonton who made international headlines for holding onto a wrapped Christmas gift from a high-school girlfriend who dumped him nearly 50 years ago finally learned wh
  • Water quality advisory in effect in North Okanagan
    NORTH OKANAGAN - The district has issued a water quality advisory for the North Okanagan. The Regional District of North Okanagan Silver Star Water Utility in conjunction with Interior Healt
  • Kamloops Fire Rescue respond to McDonalds deep fryer fire
    KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops McDonalds was temporarily closed last night due to a small deep fryer fire. Kamloops Fire Rescue arrived at the McDonalds location in Sahali at about 11:30 p.m. last ni
  • Vernon fast food restaurant held up by man with syringe
    VERNON - RCMP are on the hunt for a suspect after a robbery at a Vernon restaurant earlier this week. A man threatened staff with an allegedly contaminated needle on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Wr
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile