Former prime minister Brian Mulroney has spoken out in defence of his daughter, Ontario's Francophone Affairs Minister Caroline Mulroney, while dismissing another MPP as a "little girl."
The former prime minister made the comments Sunday on Radio-Canada's Tout le monde en parle.
"Caroline is always there to defend the interests of francophones in Ontario," he said in French. "[She's] the best voice that francophones in Ontario could ever have."
Caroline Mulroney was handed the job amid backlash over the government's plan to axe the provincial language commissioner's office. The Progressive Conservatives relented somewhat, promising to create a new language commissioner position in the office of the provincial ombudsman.
The former prime minister told Tout le monde en parle that these decisions were not made by his daughter but she was tapped to mend relations with the francophone community.
"She's busy working with her colleagues to fix the damage," he said in French.
Amanda Simard, the MPP for Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, left the PC caucus to sit as an independent over the party's francophone policies, which also included cancelling funding for a French language university.
During the interview Sunday, Brian Mulroney referred to Simard as "la petite fille qui a démissionné est partie," or "the little girl who resigned."
Simard tweeted a response on Monday.
"Mr. Mulroney attempted to defend his daughter Caroline, who completely dropped Franco-Ontarians. He has done great things for Canada, but his words belong to another time and have no place in a respectful and egalitarian society," Simard tweeted in French.
Simard said she's waiting for the outcome of the Ontario Liberal leadership race before deciding whether to join that party.
Carol Jolin, president of L'Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, said he is "on the same wave length as Mr. Mulroney" in terms of Caroline Mulroney.
"Mr. Mulroney spoke like a proud parent," Jolin said. "Decisions were taken at a higher level than the Ministry of Francophone Affairs, and now she has to fix what's been done."
But Jolin was critical of Brian Mulroney's characterization of Simard.
"I think it was a bad choice of words," he said. "Simard is a proud Franco-Ontarian … I am really proud of what she's done."
On Monday Mulroney issued a statement apologizing for his comments.
"While appearing on the program Tout le monde en parle, which aired on Radio-Canada last night, I used the expression p'tite fille (translated as little girl) while speaking about the MNA for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. Instead, I should have used the expression young woman. I had no intention of insulting anyone with this poor choice of words and would like to offer my sincere apologies," he said in the statement.