Hehr condescending?

A Calgary woman engaged in a class action lawsuit against the federal government has come forward with new allegations about Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr, saying he was disrespectful and condescending when she raised her concerns directly with him.

Jennifer McCrea, who has been fighting a suit involving a group of mothers who say they were denied benefits while on maternity leave, says she contacted Hehr's office in October 2016 after she was encouraged to speak to local Liberal MPs about her case.

Hehr was veterans affairs minister at the time and was shuffled into the sport and disabilities portfolio by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this summer.

"(He was) very condescending," McCrea said of the October 2016 interaction, noting she was able to secure less than two minutes of his time.

McCrea also said she specifically asked him why Ottawa is continuing to fight sick women, to which he allegedly replied "Well, Ms. McCrea, that is the old question, like asking ... 'When did you stop beating your wife?'"

McCrea said she decided to come forward about Hehr's comments after hearing the experience of thalidomide survivors this week who said they felt belittled by Hehr's approach in a fall meeting.

The minister needs to be more sensitive in his interactions, McCrea said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh expressed shock when he learned of the latest allegations facing Hehr on Thursday, adding he cannot talk about violence against women in that way.

In a statement, Hehr said he recalls the conversation with McCrea, adding he felt like he was backed into a corner when he was asked why Ottawa wants to continue to fight sick women.

"When speaking to people I tend to be very straightforward, however, I understand my comments can be brash and sometimes even inappropriate," Hehr said.

Hehr also apologized earlier this week for his interactions with the thalidomide survivors but said he felt his remarks were "misconstrued."

"As someone with a disability myself, it was certainly not my intention to offend anyone," Hehr said in a statement.

He said making Hehr's comments known would have been an "unnecessary distraction" but said the remarks are seen in a new light given federal inaction to date on the case.

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