WARNING: Strong language.
Twitter is facing calls to review Gail Vaz-Oxlade‘s account after the financial commentator called Ontario Tourism, Culture and Sport Lisa MacLeod a vulgar word on the social networking site Thursday.
Numerous users called on Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey to take action after she referred to MacLeod as a “heartless c***” in a tweet, which quoted the minister’s own post celebrating her daughter’s graduation.
Vaz-Oxlade’s tweet initially drew a response from Laryssa Waler, executive director of communications for Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
She said, “This. Is. A. Disgusting. Tweet.”
Then, MacLeod responded herself.
“Disagree with me fine,” she tweeted. “But lines are being crossed.”
Vaz-Oxlade, the former host of Til Debt Do Us Part and Princess on Slice, a Corus Entertainment brand, retired years ago.
Since April 2, 2018, she has publicly expressed her anger about the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, particularly cuts to the province’s autism funding, an issue that has generated significant blowback against the provincial government.
WATCH: June 20 – ‘Autism isn’t the largest file, but it’s the most sensitive’: Ford
MacLeod found herself at the centre of the backlash while serving as minister of social services until June 20.
Nearly 300 layoff notices have been handed out at one autism treatment centre, and the cuts have continued to generate protests.
MacLeod came under scrutiny after the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis alleged she told them they would face “four long years” if they didn’t promote the new autism program in a positive fashion.
She later apologized, and the province’s integrity commissioner said her remarks did not violate the Members’ Integrity Act.
WATCH: April 8 – Peterborough parents protest autism care as Lisa MacLeod visits with local Conservatives
MacLeod didn’t offer any comment to Global News beyond what she tweeted.
But communication staff pointed to a statement by Jill Dunlop, associate minister of children and women’s issues, in which she took Vaz-Oxlade to task for her remarks.
“Comments like these have discouraged generations of qualified women from seriously considering public service and leadership positions,” she said.
“At a time when society is finally beginning to recognize the need for women’s perspectives and experiences to inform our political discourse, Ms. Vaz-Oxlade chooses to normalize misogynistic slurs.
“Ms. MacLeod and her daughter deserve a heartfelt apology.”
However, she appears to have doubled down on the remark on her Twitter account.
The pinned tweet on Vaz-Oxlade’s account as of Friday night showed a t-shirt carrying the slogan, “Conservatives putting the ‘n’ in cuts.”
WATCH: March 21 – MacLeod says criticism on autism file had adverse effect on her family
This exchange doesn’t mark the first time that MacLeod has alleged that people have attacked her aggressively. In March, she said she faced threats and personal attacks following changes to the province’s autism program.
An international study released last year showed that female politicians are judged more harshly on social media for their appearances and marital statuses than their male counterparts.
Women were considered three times more likely to face sexist comments than men.
“Sexism and abuse are everyday occurrences for many female politicians who are active online,” Eva Barboni, founder of U.K. organization Atalanta, which produced the study, said in a statement at the time.
- With files from Travis Dhanraj and The Canadian Press