Tony Clement apologizes for insulting 15-year-old
Published Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:57PM EST
Treasury Board President Tony Clement apologized for calling a 15-year-old Parry Sound, Ont. boy a "jack ass" on Twitter after getting into an online spat over a spelling mistake on the social media site.
Keith Pettinger, a student at Parry Sound High School, sent a message to Clement on Saturday evening after he wrote, "Coach's Corner gave me a lot to think about tonite."
Pettinger wrote: "@TonyclementCPC would you like to come to Parry Sound High School on Monday with me and learn how to tonight properly?"
He later asked "if you can't spell how can you run Canada's treasury?"
In a private message sent on Sunday, Clement shot back at Pettinger's own apparent spelling mistakes before issuing the insult.
"Ha ha ur fnny," Clement wrote, followed by" "It's ‘don't know', not "dunno". Jack ass."
Pettinger offered an apology for calling Clement out, adding that he just wanted someone involved with spending Canada's money to know how to spell properly.
Pettinger later sent copies of the private conversation to the media, saying he found the message "uncalled for and rude."
In an interview with CTV News, Pettinger said he hadn't meant any offence, but was disappointed that a government official would curse a member of his own constituency.
"It isn't that bad for someone to make a spelling mistake on Twitter because it is just 140 characters. But then I decided to joke around a little with him and sent a couple of tweets his way," Pettinger said during a Skype interview on Tuesday.
"I didn't expect anything back and didn't think anything of it until the next morning when he messaged me back. I'm shocked that someone so powerful in Canada and that someone so media-savvy would say something like that on a social networking site."
Pettinger received an apology from Clement Tuesday morning, after the media began to report on the affair. The minister also said on Twitter that he wasn't aware Pettinger was only 15 years old.
"I'm sorry for my reaction to your Tweet and for offending you. I hope you continue to be interested in what people have to say," Clement wrote.
Pettinger said he has accepted Clement's apology, but added that the experience has changed the way he looks at politicians.
"I will definitely be interested in what people have to say. But it has put me off politics a little bit," he said. "That politicians can say something like that to their fellow countrymen and walk off the next day just thinking ‘I got through that one.'
"I'm going to accept his apology on this one and hope he realizes how bad it is to be doing that."