A Calgary woman engaged in a class action lawsuit against the federal government is coming forward with new complaints about Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr, saying he was disrespectful and condescending when she raised her concerns with him.
Jennifer McCrea, who has been fighting a suit with mothers who say they were denied benefits while on maternity leave, contacted Hehr’s office in October 2016 after she was encouraged to speak to local Liberal MPs about her case.
McCrea says she was able to secure less than two minutes of his time and 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?'”
LISTEN: Minister Hehr speaks with 770 CHQR’s Rob Breakenridge
McCrea says she decided to come forward after hearing the experience of the thalidomide survivors who said they felt belittled by Hehr’s approach in a meeting this year, adding the minister needs to be more sensitive in his interactions.
In a statement, Hehr says he recalls the conversation with McCrea, adding he felt backed into a corner with the question about Ottawa fighting sick women.
He says he tends to be very straightforward in speaking to people, adding he realizes his comments can be brash, sometimes inappropriate and he apologizes.
It’s not the first time a politician has used those words. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the same thing in 2013 during a war of words on Twitter with then-host of Sun News Network, Ezra Levant.
Nenshi later issued a statement to apologize.
-with files from Bindu Suri