TORONTO — Opposition politicians are calling Ontario Premier Doug Ford misogynistic for a comment he flung at NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in the legislature Wednesday.
“It’s like listening to nails on a chalkboard, listening to you,” Ford said.
Horwath had been talking about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which she said the premier is “determined to rush into.” She noted that the associate chief medical officer of health said Tuesday there is no criteria for when Ontario will use the “emergency brake,” a key part of its reopening plan that would immediately put regions back into lockdown.
“When will the premier actually start listening to the hospitals, to the doctors, to his own experts and prevent this province from going into yet another third wave and lockdown?” she had asked.
Watch: Ontario politicians break all the rules for respectful debate. Story continues after video.
Ford said he has listened to the chief medical officer of health and complained that the Opposition leader has been “sitting there and constantly criticizing from day one.”
The Speaker stopped Ford when he made the “nails on a chalkboard” comment and reminded him not to address other members directly. There is no specific rule that bars MPPs from using language other members consider sexist or racist, but they are barred from using “abusive or insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder,” making allegations, and even addressing other members by name.
“This kind of behaviour from a premier is wholly inappropriate.”
Horwath didn’t outright call Ford’s comment sexist or misogynistic when reporters asked her about it, but some MPPs did on Twitter.
“It’s really not about me personally …. At the end of the day, when the premier doesn’t like being questioned, doesn’t like being criticized, he goes to the worst possible place. That’s just who he is,” Horwath said.
“I think he owes the people of Ontario an apology. This kind of behaviour from a premier is wholly inappropriate.”
But Horwath addressed women directly later Wednesday in a tweet.
“My message to women: don’t let anyone try to tell you you don’t belong at Queen’s Park,” she wrote. “I’m going to continue making positive proposals to give people the help and hope they need to get through this pandemic. If Mr. Ford doesn’t like hearing my positive proposals, too bad.”
Others likened it to calling women “shrill,” a sexist insult that’s used to degrade women who speak up instead of being deferential to men.
Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife said “these sexist moments” happen too frequently at Queen’s Park and make it difficult to convince women to run for office.
Leaders of the Ontario Liberals and Ontario Green Party agreed with the NDP MPPs on Twitter.
“Misogynistic rhetoric like this has no place in the Ontario Legislature,” Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said on Twitter. “For it to be hurled by a Premier is unthinkable.”
“This kind of misogynistic attack is unacceptable,” wrote Green Leader Mike Schreiner.
In response to the backlash, Ford’s spokesperson Ivana Yelich told HuffPost Canada that “the Premier condemns any and all forms of misogyny and sexism.”