'Climate Barbie' apology

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer resisted demands Wednesday that he condemn longtime Tory MP Gerry Ritz and force him to apologize in the House of Commons for posting a sexist tweet about the Liberal environment minister.

Seizing the opportunity, the Liberals mounted an aggressive question period offensive over the tweet, dominating the opening salvos of question period and distracting — albeit briefly — from the Opposition's own line of attack on small business taxes.

Ritz, a Saskatchewan MP who's no stranger to controversial remarks, triggered the furor Tuesday by describing Environment Minister Catherine McKenna as "climate Barbie" on Twitter.

Ritz promptly deleted the tweet and apologized, but not before touching off a cascade of social media outrage, including from McKenna herself.

"I apologize for the use of Barbie, it is not reflective of the role the minister plays," Ritz wrote.

Even if it was only for the first 15 minutes of question period, the Ritz controversy proved the perfect remote control for a government keen to change the channel amid sustained public anger over its proposed changes to small business taxes.

Three times, Scheer tried to press the government on its plans, and all three times Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr — standing in for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in New York City for the UN General Assembly — ignored them.

Instead, Carr demanded Scheer disavow Ritz's words and compel him to apologize in the House of Commons, not just to McKenna but to all MPs and all Canadians.

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