Conservative cabinet minister tells high school student that she’ll “make a wonderful wife”

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

A Conservative cabinet minister made what some are suggesting was a sexist comment, last Friday, when he told a high school student that she'll "make a wonderful wife for somebody."

Here's a description of the event as chronicled by CBC News:

In Fredericton, MP and federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield, invited the media to a staged family conversation about the budget with Roland and Gina Moreno and their two daughters.

It was an opportunity to highlight the government's emphasis on training young people for jobs the economy needs, but things went awkwardly off-script at the start as Ashfield sampled baked goods and chatted with eldest daughter Grace Moreno, a local high school student leader.

"Grace, you're a great cook," Ashfield said. "You're going to make a wonderful wife for somebody."

Political analyst Lisa Kirbie was the first to call-out Ashfield on Sunday evening on her website.

"In what universe is it acceptable to tell a young woman that she’s going to make someone a great wife one day," she wrote.

"Shame on Conservative Fisheries minister Keith Ashfield, and shame on this entire government. I sure hope he, and his boss, get asked about this tomorrow."

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Well, Ashfield certainly did get asked about it in the House of Commons during Question Period on Monday.

"Leave it to the Conservatives to encourage young women to get married as part of their Economic Action Plan," NDP MP Megan Leslie said.

"His comments were disrespectful. Come on...'Grace, you're a great cook, you're going to make a wonderful wife for somebody.' In other words, there there, stop planning for your future.

"Is this the kind of response that women can expect from Conservatives with their Economic Action Plan?"

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The 'honourable' minister did not apologize. Instead he did what most ministers do during Question Period: He deflected.

"Mr. Speaker," Ashfield said, "obviously the opposition has little to find in fault in our budget...if this is the only type of question it could ask."

Update: 5.20 p.m.

The minister's office sent Yahoo! Canada News this statement from Minister Ashfield:

"I would like to thank the Moreno family for taking the time to discuss Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013. The family’s insightful comments and feedback are valuable to me and our Government as we continue to build a strong and prosperous nation.

"My comments to Grace Moreno have been taken out of context and were simply meant to compliment her on her genuine hospitality.

"Ms. Moreno is a gifted and active young member of her high school and our greater community. And she has a great future ahead of her.

"I am proud of our youth and I appreciate the contributions that she and other youth continue to make to our community and country."

Update: Tuesday @ 12:20 p.m.

Grace Moreno — the high school student referenced in this story — posted this note on Minister Ashfield's Facebook page on Tuesday morning:

In regards to what Honourable Keith Ashfield said, I feel that it was a compliment. On the day that he visited, our family welcomed him as our guest and treated him with Filipino hospitality. I personally made him a FIlipino bread called "Ensaymada" (a delicacy that my mother taught me to make). He complimented me on the bread, and I appreciated the thanks. I was not offended whatsoever and it is unfair that the Minister's comment was taken out of context. - Grace Moreno

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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