After launching its Islamophobia reporting hotline more than a year ago, the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) has found itself fielding both legitimate and disturbingly derogatory calls.
The hotline opened in late March 2016 and since that time, has received around 400 calls. At least 15 of them were Islamophobic taunts.
READ MORE: Alberta group launches toll-free Islamophobia hotline
“I think there is a perception amongst some members of the population that Islamophobia is a myth, it’s concocted, it’s a created fantasy,” said Aurangzeb Qureshi, AMPAC’s vice-president of communications.
“We wanted to show that this is real.”
Four audio recordings were released to Global News. AMPAC says they are actual unedited messages left on its hotline.
“I’m not going to change my ways just ’cause you guys want us to, and this traitor government,” begins one recording. “You better think again. You started something that you have no idea what’s comin’.’”
Another message: “Yeah, take a message to Trudeau. Islam doesn’t belong on this continent.”
READ MORE: ‘Mosque’ spray-painted on Jasper outhouses ‘not very Canadian’: Parks Canada
Some calls are both Islamophobic and homophobic in nature.
One audio recording was so laden with profanity, if censored, it would be unclear, with very few words remaining.
“It’s obviously very cryptic and very scary,” Qureshi said.
“I mean, you’re hearing these people’s voices on the phone. And especially people who are talking about being locked and loaded — involving guns and shooting people — wanting you dead for no reason other than you follow a specific religion.”
READ MORE: Islamophobia hotline in Alberta sees ‘significant jump’ in calls
On average, the hotline used to receive one call a day. Qureshi said that number rose to three or four calls a day after the U.S. election.
READ MORE: Hundreds converge on Alberta legislature grounds for Quebec mosque shooting vigil
In the meantime, AMPAC is scheduled to hold a fundraising event featuring author, lawyer and commentator Arsalan Iftikhar on May 6. Iftikhar has been widely acclaimed for his book Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms.
Global News Morning anchor Shaye Ganam will be emceeing the event.
WINNIPEG —; The spring weather has many Winnipeggers getting their bikes out for the season, and one local group is hoping to give that feeling to people at any age.
Cycling Without Age (CWA) launched its Winnipeg chapter Tuesday. The group is dedicated to helping people with limited mobility get out cycling. Volunteers use a specialized trishaw, a mix between a tricycle and a rickshaw, to give rides seniors or those living with a disability a ride around the community.
RELATED: Seniors cycling group looking to expand in Fredericton
“It’s a program where volunteers take elderly people out for bike rides in these specially made trikes,” Ole Kassow, founder of CWA said.
“Very often elderly people tend to get isolated and don’t get to go outside, and that has a dramatic and negative consequence on their life.”
Kassow first launched the program in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark —; one of the most bike friendly cities in the world.
RELATED: Bike lanes around the world: Where mere paint won’t do it
Kassow said he wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw and he then started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.
The program is quickly spreading around the world and it now has more than 8,000 volunteers.
Last year Kassow said he met two Winnipeggers in Copenhagen who wanted to bring the program to the city. So Kassow came to the city to help launch CWA, and is hoping it will be a huge success.
“Cycling is a chance to get your senses stimulated and also being around other people. You form relationships and friendships,” he said.
Centennial Academy was founded in 1969 by a group of teachers who believed they could do more for kids with learning challenges.
Five decades later, the school claims it has now become a leader in helping students succeed, even beyond academics.
Its graduation rate is 90 per cent in the standard five years of high school.
The provincial rate is 75 per cent.
“We’re applying the principles of Universal Design for Learning, and that’s really looking at: ‘OK, if it works for one child, can it work for two —; can it work for the whole class?’” the head of Centennial Academy Angela Burgos said.
Centennial Academy finds temporary home in two public schools
One of Centennial Academy’s mottos: ‘We shape our school to fit our students’. pic.twitter杭州桑拿/FWMqyMkffZ
— Gloria Henriquez (@GloriaMTL) May 2, 2017
Besides educating students, staff focus on teaching effective learning behaviours.
For example, getting organized and prioritizing —; things that are usually difficult for these students who suffer from a range of learning challenges including ADHD or autism.
“We have cubicles, and every week, we’ll go organize it,” said Maya, a student.
“All our binders are different colours and it’s been the same way since Grade 10.”
That predictability and order helps create life skills that ultimate make students become more independent.
“It helps you succeed, and so far, it’s helped me succeed for the three years I’ve been here,” said 14-year-old Dario.
The school uses different tools and strategies.
One method that has really helped is through learning-behaviour coaches.
Kids who are not in a good learning space, head over to what they call a level room, where they get help to focus their energy.
“If we were a car, we’re not a Volvo. We’re not a Mercedes. We’re a Tesla,” Burgos said.
Parents believe the school’s approach has made a world of difference in their lives.
“They do stuff now on their own, which I never thought they were going to be capable of doing. I don’t have to sit and be that helicopter parent anymore,” said mother-of-two Sharyn Hoppenheim.
The school will have to move buildings for the next school year.
READ MORE: Centennial Academy finds temporary home in two public schools
For some of these students, change can be difficult.
But parents and the school are confident the move will be a smooth transition.
The school is in fact, planning to expand.
They are opening a French sector this year for Grades 7 and 8, and are hoping to gradually add more classes.
Zina Lombardi was a healthy, active 40-year-old mother of three when she learned she had bladder cancer.
“In late 2010, I was noticing some streaking, some blood when I would go to the bathroom. I really didn’t have any other symptoms, so like most people, I ignored it for probably two or three months,” Lombardi said.
READ MORE: 5 things you didn’t know about bladder cancer in Canada
Bladder cancer survivor on beating the disease
New medication gives hope to dozens walking for bladder cancer
According to Bladder Cancer Canada, about 9,000 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, and in most cases blood in the urine is the first warning sign.
The trouble is, for women, that symptom is most often linked to another more common health problem, according to urologist Dr. Peter Black.
“It’s often assumed that blood is a urinary tract infection so the necessary tests aren’t done to show that it’s bladder cancer,” Black said.
Lombardi’s stage two bladder cancer diagnosis meant that she required four rounds of chemotherapy and surgery to remove her bladder.
Recovery, she admits, was long and difficult, but today she’s feeling good and sharing her story so that others will learn the signs.
WATCH: Bladder cancer drug will no longer be made by manufacturer
“What I say to people is — if you see blood in your urine, go have it looked at and make sure if you’re told that it is a bladder infection, that it’s confirmed with a urinalysis that it really is an infection,” Lombardi said.
“If not, then further investigation is necessary.”
MacKenzie Ruthven was emotional and quite upset as she finished testifying at the murder trial of 24-year-old William Sandeson.
READ: Halifax court jammed by prospective jurors for Dalhousie medical student’s murder trial
Sandeson is facing a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the homicide of 22-year-old Taylor Samson.
Ruthven had been dating Samson for six months when he disappeared. She told the court that she briefly saw him during the day on Aug. 15, 2015. Ruthven said the pair had made plans to go to a nightclub in downtown Halifax that evening when Samson stepped out for a few minutes and never returned.
Mckenzie Ruthven visibly upset outside the courtroom following her testimony in the murder case of William Sandeson. @globalhalifax pic.twitter杭州桑拿/r1l8JqcGFu
— Cory McGraw (@McgrawCory) May 2, 2017
She told the seven-man, seven-woman jury that she repeatedly sent text messages and called Samson’s phone but was unable to get in touch with him. Ruthven said she has never had any contact with her boyfriend since that day.
WATCH: Murder trial hears from police, Taylor Samson’s girlfriend
The Crown also called Det/Const. Roger Sayer to the stand. Sayer is a member of the Halifax Regional Police and the lead investigator on the Taylor Samson file.
After a few introductory questions from Crown Attorney Susan MacKay, Sayer introduced two interrogation videos into evidence.
Both of the videos were taken at Halifax police headquarters on Gottingen Street after Sandeson was arrested in connection with Samson’s missing persons case.
READ: Murder victim last seen at William Sandeson’s apartment building, prosecutor tells jury
Detective Constable Roger Sayer is the next witness. He is a homicide detective with @HfxRegPolice. Sayer is the 12th witness in the trial. pic.twitter杭州桑拿/Ndd4BH1Zuw
— Cory McGraw (@McgrawCory) May 2, 2017
The interrogation video is different from the first video that the jury saw during the trial. In that recording, Sandeson was questioned by a police officer as a potential witness in connection with Samson’s disappearance, not as a suspect.
In the videos presented to the court on Tuesday, a police officer told Sandeson that investigators were at his Henry Street apartment and searching it for evidence and asked Sandeson over and over again where Taylor was.
READ: Jury shown gun, bullets and cash seized from William Sandeson’s apartment
At the beginning of the interrogation with police, Sandeson denies knowing anything about the whereabouts of Samson. After a few hours of questioning, Sandeson changes his story and tells police that while Samson was at his apartment, several people broke in and may have taken Samson.
Sandeson goes on to tell police that there was a lot of blood at the residence and admits to cleaning it up and hiding money that was left behind. The officer then hammers away at Sandeson, asking why he would clean up the apartment and send text messages from his phone to Samson’s phone after this allegedly happened.
That’s where the video stopped and court was recessed for the day.
WATCH: William Sandeson ‘confident’ as murder trial begins in Halifax: defence
Despite searching multiple locations, including a farm in Lower Truro, N.S., which is owned by Sandeson’s family, police have never been able to locate Samson’s remains.
READ MORE: Taylor Samson’s mother pleads for her son’s body at Sandeson bail hearing
Although it is unusual to have a murder trial without a body, the Crown says it’s not unheard of.
In total, 32 court days spanning eight weeks have been set aside to hear the trial. Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the 2017 election Global News is tracking the promises each party makes on education, health care, infrastructure, transparency, budgets, diversity, and more. The stories will be updated as parties roll out their promises.
Health care has become one of the most prominent issues on this election’s campaign trail. The promises have been wide ranging and diverse.
The Liberals’ big election promise during the 2013 election was to provide every family in the province with a doctor. During their mandate that did not happen — and during this campaign, no one has tried to make a similar promise.
The focus of this campaign has shifted to health infrastructure. An issue for all parties has been the redevelopment or replacement of Halifax’s aging Victoria General hospital.
READ MORE: All of our election coverage
Victoria General Hospital
Have not released the complete cost for the hospital’s redevelopmentA public-private partnership model is a possibility
Part of Jamie Baillie’s proposed $2-billion infrastructure plan would include a new Victoria General hospitalBaillie says he expects half of the $2 billion to come from Ottawa
Have said they will not use a public-private partnership funding model for the Victoria General hospital
Will roll out a $116.7-million package to establish more collaborative care clinics and recruit more doctors. $78 million will go towards expanding and creating 70 collaborative care teams.McNeil said doctors will not be forced into collaborative care teams if they still want to work solo.$15 million will roll out over three years for construction and renovations of collaborative care clinics.$11.7 million will create 10 new spaces in the family medicine residency program and $12 million will go towards tuition relief.More than $31 million over four years to help Nova Scotians with disabilities live successfully in their communitiesAn investment of $14.7 million would allow government to create and maintain small options homes, which would allow up to 32 people to live in community-based settings.$25-million investment over four years for caregiver benefit program to expand eligibility to include 400 people caring for those with lower levels of dementia in 2017, and 1,200 caring for those with mental illness in 2018$2.25 million over three years to increase medical consultation support by using video technology$1.5 million over three years to expand Independent Living Support$3 million over four years to expand the Flex Independent Program$750,000 over three years to expand Respite Care Options$1.2 million for design work to expand emergency department at IWK Children’s Hospital
Leader Jamie Baillie has promised that if his party were to form government, they would spend $19.5 million over four years to address the shortage of family doctors and specialists in Nova ScotiaMuch of the money would be spent in the first yearThe PCs would also add $6 million to the tuition relief program to keep new family doctors in Nova Scotia, and recognize the credentials for Nova Scotians who study medicine abroad$7.2 million to extend coverage for oral cancer drugs
The party will spend $120 million over four years to build new primary care clinics and to hire more doctors, nurses and nurse practitionersWork collaboratively with family doctors to determine what resources are needed in various communitiesSignificantly increase the medical help needed by people who are still without a physician (did not commit to a number)The NDP promised to expand dental care coverage for children under 18.Will implement all recommendations in the Nova Scotia General Employees Union’sCode Critical reportThe party will spend $6 million over four years to double the number of midwives in the provinceMoney from the $6 million will also be used to create a training program for aspiring midwives
Read More: Incumbent Andrew Younger withdraws from Dartmouth East election
Mental health care
The Liberals have promised that with a new mandate they will commit $34 million over four years to improve access to mental health services across the province. They’ve promised 51 mental health clinicians will be hired through an expansion of the SchoolPlus program.Creation of a central intake system to ensure patients get the care they needAmong other initiatives is $2 million in funding over two years to pilot four youth health centres in Nova Scotia schoolsThe Liberals have promised the expansion of IWK Children’s Hospital emergency department would improve mental health services for those aged 16 to 19.
Have promised to invest $39.7 million in the mental health systemProviding all students with access to in-school mental health servicesEstablishing Mental Health Crisis Response Centres to divert people undergoing a mental health crisis from emergency rooms to a facility, staffed by trained mental health professionals, to receive appropriate and informed treatment.Creation of a Mental Health and Wellness Institute in concert with a Nova Scotia university and attracting mental health experts.A $250 direct tax rebate for Nova Scotians who, through a medical diagnosis and treatment plan, rely on a psychiatric service dog.
The NDP says $21.5 million – which comes from the party’s $49.5 million commitment over four years — will go to a second mental health strategy, picking up where the 2009 NDP government’s left off$25 million on three pilot mental health hubs in emergency rooms in Halifax, Kentville and Sydney in an effort to speed up access to care
Seniors Long-term Care
The Liberals have said $3.2 million was promised in last month’s proposed budget — which was not passed before the election call — to increase food budgets and improve recreational therapy programming in long-term care facilities.
The PCs have promised to spend $32.8 million over four years to reverse cuts to long term careThe party will freeze the cost share ratio for seniors’ pharmacare
Will restore $8 million cut to nursing homesThe NDP have promised to freeze pharmacare premiums and lobby for a national pharmacare program
EDITORS NOTE: Throughout the 2017 election Global News will track the promises each party makes on education, health care, infrastructure, transparency, budgets, and more. The stories will be updated as parties roll out their promises.
Diversity among party candidates became an issue on the first full day of the campaign.
READ MORE: All our Nova Scotia Election 2017 coverage
The NDP lead the pack on gender parity fielding 23 women out of a possible 51. The Progressive Conservatives are second with 17 women and the Liberals’ slate has 12 women on it.
The Grits though lead the way on racial diversity, fielding seven candidates who are minorities. The NDP have five candidates who are racial minorities and the Tories have one minority candidate.
READ MORE: Nova Scotia Election: Liberals field the most men, Tories the most white candidates
Increasing the per vote subsidy for women and minority candidates
The Progressive Conservatives said on May 2 that if they form government the per vote funding parties receive based on their last election result will be 1.5 times higher for votes cast for women, African Nova Scotians and Indigenous candidates. Leader Jamie Baillie said the subsidy would end once the legislature reflects Nova Scotians. “This is one of the most progressive things a Progressive Conservative party can do,” he said.NDP Leader Gary Burrill said his part’s record on diversity shows a financial incentive isn’t needed.Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said “it’s not something that I’m running on today.” But he told reporters its something he would look at.
Gender parity in cabinet
The NDP are committing to gender parity on cabinet. “The principal of gender parity ought also to be honoured in the executive council and that’s the kind of cabinet that we would build.”The Liberals said they won’t commit to gender parity. “We will continue to appoint the very best people,” McNeil said on May 2. In 2013 he appointed the most women ever to a Nova Scotia cabinet. Six women sat on the Liberal cabinet at dissolution.The Tories aren’t committing to gender parity on cabinet. “When women are considered for cabinet, they’re considered on an equal basis with men,” Baillie said on May 2 in Halifax.
A section of King Street just west of Yonge Street in Toronto’s financial district will remain closed for most of the day following a series of explosions during the evening rush hour on Monday.
The blasts, blamed on an overheated hydro vault fire, shut down the area at about 5 p.m. and sent commuters scrambling. There were no reports of any injuries.
Thick black smoke was seen billowing from a set of sidewalk grates in front of a Royal Bank office building near King and Yonge.
Toronto Hydro said crews have been working through the night to conduct repairs to the vault. However, workers were forced out just after midnight when they noticed smoke.
“We determined that it was a conduit that was leading down into the transformer that was smoking,” Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Kevin Aucoin said. “The crews backed out and our guys put small amounts of water and CO2 trying to contain it.”
WATCH: Toronto Fire and Toronto Hydro investigating cause of underground hydro vault fire that erupted Monday afternoon at King and Bay. Ashley Carter reports. (May 1)
Fire official said firefighters remain on standby just in case there are any flare-ups.
“The problem is we have a live transformer next to a transformer that is blown,” Aucoin explained. “We have to be very careful not to use too much water so that we could have a problem with the backup transformer beside it —; that’s powering the backup generators right now.”
Hydro officials said the vault had to be “de-energized” last night before crews were allowed to pump the rain water out and conduct repairs.
“We went in and we know the area is severely damaged. Yesterday there was a lot of rainfall, so that is a potential culprit here,” Toronto Hydro spokesperson Brian Buchan said. “If the vault did flood, then that would be devastating for the vault itself.”
READ MORE: Hydro vault fire in downtown Toronto to blame for heavy smoke, underground explosions
Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Kevin Shaw said the fire was smoldering early Tuesday morning as firefighters attempted to extinguish it without damaging the transformer, which powers Royal Bank’s computer system.
“So we cannot get water on that,” Shaw said earlier in the day. “We tried CO2 and small amounts of water. If that’s not successful then we’ll stand by until Royal Bank has some IT people coming in and they’ll do whatever they have to do to secure their computer systems.”
Hydro officials said the plan is to reroute the power to the building temporarily until the broken transformer is replaced.
“That would get the customer back on and in the meantime then we would do a permanent fix that would take some time,” Buchan said.
Toronto Hydro says scene of downtown explosion remains very active
Toronto Hydro says scene of downtown explosion remains very active
Underground explosions force closure of busy downtown Toronto streets
Toronto fire and hydro investigate cause of downtown fire
The vault explosions shut down the King subway station on Monday and caused several streetcars to take detours.
Both the 504 and 514 routes continue to be diverted on Tuesday.
The underground PATH system was also evacuated including the buildings adjacent to the explosions.
Fire officials said the Royal Bank building will remain closed for the day while other businesses in the area are open.
-With files from Nick Westoll
KING ST W – #TorontoFire crew will remain on scene while #Toronto Hydro crews repair the vault pic.twitter杭州桑拿/sSiYypzDau
— Toronto Fire Service (@Toronto_Fire) May 2, 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the U.S. government “needs a good shutdown” in September to fix a “mess” in the Senate, signalling his displeasure with a temporary spending bill that Republican congressional leaders – and Trump himself – are praising as a major accomplishment.
On 杭州桑拿会所 and then in a White House ceremony, Trump issued contradictory statements ahead of key votes in Congress on the budget bill to keep the government running into the fall. After advocating for a future shutdown on 杭州桑拿会所, he hailed the budget agreement as a boost for the military and border security.
“This is what winning looks like,” Trump said during a ceremony honouring the Air Force Academy football team. He said, “Our Republican team had its own victory – under the radar,” he and called the bill “a clear win for the American people.”
The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
Trump’s embrace of a potential government shutdown came days after he accused Senate Democrats of seeking such an outcome and obstructing majority Republicans during recent budget negotiations. Lawmakers announced Sunday they had reached an agreement to avoid a shutdown until Oct. 1 – a deal that does not include several provisions sought by Trump, including money for a border wall.
WATCH: U.S. government shutdown possible, onus on Democrats
It also came at the start of a week in which the House is considering a possible vote on a health care overhaul that would repeal and replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Congress is expected to vote this week on the $1.1 trillion spending bill.
After Trump’s tweets, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin defended the budget plan, telling reporters, “No longer will our military be held hostage for domestic spending.” He said the spending package was an “important first step in the right direction” that included a “big down payment” on border security and the military.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the funding bill is the product of bipartisan negotiations, and that it “delivers some important conservative wins, including critical steps forward on defence and border security.”
The White House on Monday had praised the deal as a win for the nation’s military, health benefits for coal miners and other Trump priorities, a message that Trump reiterated in the Rose Garden on Tuesday.
But the president appeared to indicate unhappiness with the budget plan when he kicked off the day by taking to 杭州桑拿会所. “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!” He added, “We “either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 (per cent). Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”
WATCH: Trade restrictions, Donald Trump topics of discussion at Alberta U.S. Trade Summit
That contradicted Trump’s message less than a week ago.
Last Thursday, Trump had tweeted that Democrats were threatening to close national parks as part of the negotiations “and shut down the government. Terrible!” He also tweeted at the time that he had promised to “rebuild our military and secure our border. Democrats want to shut down the government. Politics!”
His Tuesday tweets about Senate procedures came after Senate Republicans recently triggered the “nuclear option” to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold for confirming Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. That change allowed the Senate to hold a final vote to approve Gorsuch with a simple majority, an approach that has not been used for legislation.
READ MORE: China urges North Korea, U.S. to establish contact to defuse crisis
McConnell has said he’s not inclined to change Senate rules on the filibuster and legislation. “There’s not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster. Not one,” he said in April.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney also praised the budget deal in a conference call with reporters. Asked to explain Trump’s advocacy for a shutdown, Mulvaney said, “Right now I’m not worried about September, I’m worried about this deal that’s in front of us.”
WATCH: Trump releases commercial attacking ‘fake news,’ celebrating ‘bold actions’ taken in first 100 days
“I think the president’s tweet was that we might need a shutdown at some point to drive home that this place, that Washington needs to be fixed. I think that’s a defensible position, one we’ll deal with in September. The truth of the matter though is now we’ve averted a government shutdown in a way that allows the president to fund his priorities,” Mulvaney said.
Any future shutdowns would likely cost the federal government billions of dollars. The 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013 cost $24 billion, according to Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. That included lost revenue for the national parks.
READ MORE: Donald Trump says he’d be ‘honoured’ to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
“President Trump may not like what he sees in this budget deal, but it’s dangerous and irresponsible to respond by calling for a shutdown,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
The White House and congressional Republicans are pressing to reverse a Washington narrative that the catchall bill is a win for Democrats.
Mulvaney cited a $15 billion infusion of defence spending – about half of what Trump asked for in March – as a huge win. He also claimed credit for $6 billion in war funding approved by former President Obama as a Trump win. He also cited $1.5 billion in emergency money for border security.
He correctly noted that the pending measure would be a victory for Republicans because the administration succeeded in breaking the link – forged over several Obama-era spending deals – that required that any increases in military spending be matched by an equal, dollar-for-dollar increase for nondefense programs.
The New Brunswick Legislative Assembly heard from a cabinet minister Tuesday who cited comments made by three members of the Official Opposition over the past month indicating she has been the victim of sexism.
READ MORE: Dalhousie to address all sexism report recommendations within 2 years
In a point of privilege, Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Lisa Harris opened the day by speaking about comments that she said had been spoken to her by Opposition members Kirk MacDonald and Bruce Fitch in the legislative assembly, reading transcripts of what had sparked her outrage.
“‘It is lovely to see you in the chair today, my heart always skips a beat,’” Harris read a line recently uttered by MacDonald, MLA for Fredericton-York.
On April 3, Harris contacted Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs via email to express her concern over the comments she called “sexist” and “bullying”.
Higgs responded the next day apologizing for such comments and saying he’d discuss the matter with the members in question.
“I responded to the minister that it was unacceptable, I apologized for that behaviour, for those comments, and we reacted very promptly,” Higgs said in a scrum after the point of privilege was debated. “So to have those items come forward was a little, I guess, concerning because we dealt with it very quickly.”
WATCH: It’s the uphill battle on Parliament Hill. How do you get more women into politics – and how do you end sexism in politics? Shirlee Engel looks at the cruel harassment Canada’s female politicians are hit with, why some women avoid a political career altogether, and how others say the sacrifices are worth it.
Higgs stands by his handling of the issue and questions why it was brought up in the legislature a month later.
Harris, steadfast that it was nothing but a deflection device, pointed to a recent comment made by Opposition MLA Stewart Fairgrieve who referenced Marie Antoinette when discussing Finance Minister Cathy Rogers, saying “we know what happened to her.”
“He may have spoke to them but I don’t think they were listening,” Harris said. “But after today maybe that will stop and that’s what I’m hoping will happen.”