'Absolutely disgraceful': Catherine McKenna's office tagged with vulgar and sexist graffiti
Police in Ottawa are investigating after vulgar and sexist graffiti was spray-painted on the campaign office of newly re-elected Liberal MP Catherine McKenna.
McKenna, who has served as the minister of Environment and Climate Change since 2015, said employees at her office noticed the vandalism on Thursday, which depicts the word “c--t” in red spray paint over her face in the front window.
“I was not happy to see that and it was actually really upsetting for the people that are in my office,” she told CTV’s Power Play. “(There are) a lot of women who work in my office, they volunteer, and they had to see that.”
McKenna said she hopes acts like this don’t deter women and girls from pursuing a career in politics.
“You can’t let the haters get you down, we can be better than this and politics is really important,” she said. “I got into politics not because it’s easy, but because it matters.”
McKenna has faced online vitriol from all sides over her role as climate change minister, most specifically over her government’s decision to impose a carbon tax on provinces without carbon pricing. McKenna told The Canadian Press in September that the online abuse has escalated to verbal assaults and that it has gotten to the point where she sometimes requires a security detail.
“We’ve been through a hard election, we all need to get on with things, but we also can do a lot better and I believe in Canada, I believe in Canadians, I don’t believe in this kind of hate and I think we have to somehow get away from this,” she said.
“I think maybe we can all take a deep breath in politics and try to imagine how we can get people who are maybe crossing lines to do better.”
McKenna, who won the Ottawa Centre riding with 49 per cent of the vote, said she is a “team player” and will continue to lead the climate change file if her party wants her to.
“I care greatly about the environment, but the thing I’ve learned about climate change is it’s not just the environment minister who has got to carry this file, this is as much an economic file,” she said. “Everyone’s got to work together and I will always be passionate about this, because it is the most important issue.”
In the meantime, McKenna said she is taking a bit of a break after a hard election campaign to spend time with her family.
POLITICIANS CALL IT ‘DISGRACEFUL’
In the wake of the vandalism, McKenna has received messages of support from colleagues and some of her harshest critics.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who fought the carbon tax tooth and nail, called the graffiti “disgusting.”
“There is no place in Canada for hate like this,” he tweeted. “While we may disagree on matters, we must always respect one another."
Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s provincial environment minister, also condemned the vandalism.
“Let’s work to end the vitriolic personal attacks in politics and return to respectful debates on policy,” he tweeted.
Lisa MacLeod, who represents a provincial riding in Ottawa and has held several high-profile positions within Ford’s cabinet, also offered her support for McKenna.
"Politics should be about debating ideas,” she said. “Vandalism, threats and personal insults are unacceptable in Canadian politics. My heart breaks on how she will have to explain this to her children.”
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the act “absolutely disgraceful.”
“No woman should have to deal with this in politics, or in any space,” he wrote in a tweet. “Thank you Catherine for your courage in the face of this violent, sexist act of hate. We stand with you.”
Gagan Sikand, a Liberal who won re-election in the Toronto-area, called the spray paint "absolutely appalling."
"It takes a lot of courage to put your name on a ballot,” he tweeted. “Despite party stripes, no candidate should face this kind of hatred.”
With files from The Canadian Press