Calls grow for Ontario sport minister to resign over alleged 'vulgar and profane' attack
Jeremiah Rodriguez & Cillian O'Brien, CTVNews.ca staff, with files from CTV News' Michel Boyer
Published Friday, July 5, 2019 9:16AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 5, 2019 9:40PM EDT
Ontario’s sport minister has apologized for “inappropriate remarks” she made to the owner of the Ottawa Senators at a Rolling Stones concert.
Eugene Melnyk had accused Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Lisa MacLeod of launching into a “vulgar and profane” attack at the show near Barrie, Ont., last Saturday.
Calls are growing for her to step down after she apologized to Melnyk for the incident.
“I want to be categorical about my exchange with @MelnykEugene at the Rolling Stones concert,” MacLeod tweeted late Friday.
“I regret my inappropriate remarks and apologize for them. I have spoken with Mr. Melynk, offered to meet him and would be happy to do so anytime.”
Melnyk alleges he was on the receiving end of a profanity-laden rant from the provincial minister, telling the Ottawa Citizen that MacLeod burst through the crowd and accosted him yelling: “I am your minister and you’re a f—ing piece of s–t and you’re a f—ing loser’.”
MacLeod tweeted to “set the record straight” early Friday.
“I gave @MelnykEugene some feedback at the Rolling Stones concert and I apologized to him for being so blunt,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I have serious concerns about the state of our beloved Ottawa Senators! We need to get our team back on the road to winning the cup!”
But Melnyk took issue with MacLeod’s claim that she offered “feedback” to the hockey team owner.
“It’s important the reality of the situation is not misunderstood,” Melnyk told CP24 in an email.
“Minister MacLeod at no point offered feedback on the Ottawa Senators, but rather launched into a vulgar and profane attack in front of families and my friends.
“The ongoing characterization of the Minister’s recent comment by tweet as advice or feedback is inaccurate. I sincerely hope she will come forward and own up to her actions as a public official.”
Melnyk claims to have been left “shocked” and “upset” by the incident and complained to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
He told CTV News he was later contacted by Ford personally.
“It was the first time we have ever spoken - and I can tell you I’m very impressed by his leadership and how he addressed this with me,” Melnyk said by email.
“Unfortunately Lisa McLeod hasn’t followed her boss’ example.”
He called out her response on Twitter saying, “her tweet this morning takes no accountability for her actions and in fact, tries to justify them.”
“I’m moving on from this - walking away with a much higher opinion of the Premier and a much lower opinion of our Minister of Sport (ironic),” Melnyk wrote.
Premier Ford’s office told CTV News that he is not planning to remove MacLeod from the Progressive Conservative caucus.
A spokesperson for MacLeod said she was attending the concert in her capacity as minister of tourism, culture and sport.
When asked to elaborate further, MacLeod’s communications director Derek Rowland referred CTVNews.ca to her tweet.
The Ontario Liberal Caucus cited the alleged incident as part of a larger trend of misconduct by MacLeod, which includes “alleged threats against autism therapists to a refusal to speak accurately about funding levels for autism services.”
Macleod, the MPP for Nepean in the Ottawa area, was the minister of children, community and social services before being demoted to her current post in a cabinet shuffle on June 20.
Former minister for sport Michael Coteau, the Liberal MPP for Don Valley East, said the latest alleged incident is an example of conduct “unbecoming of a cabinet minister” and that “it's clear the conduct is not changing.”
The Liberals have called for her to resign.
“It shouldn't take an NHL owner to point out this behaviour is wrong,” he said.
“It’s time for the premier to step up and remove his minister from cabinet to set an example and to say that decency is still a requirement when it comes to holding public office.”
Coteau added the remit of the minister of sport in Ontario only covers amateur sport.
MacLeod was roundly criticized for her alleged behavior on Twitter.