John Baird and Elizabeth May face -- House of Commons

There was a bit of a show-down in the House of Commons this past Friday May 31st between Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, and leader of the Green party Elizabeth May, which ended with Baird accusing May of making sexist remarks. It started with May attempting to bring attention to the issue of transparency and accountability within the Prime Ministers Office (PMO).

“About $10 million a year disappears into the PMO with zero accountability,” she said. “The guys in short pants who run around bullying MPs, muzzling scientists and harassing civil servants report to one boss. Is it not time to have accountability out of the PMO?”

Elizabeth May was of course referring to complaints Canadian scientists have made in recent months, claiming they do not feel they have the ability to publish their findings, and are forced to adhere to a strict code of whatever is sent out by the PMO. In addition, general claims of muzzling have come from back bench Conservative MP’s who have found they too must only raise issues that are in line with the PMOs office.

Mr. Baird then responded to Elizabeth May asking her to retract what he thought were sexist comments.

“Mr. Speaker, I have to rise and respond to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands,” Baird said. “She made comments with respect to young boys in short pants. We have a lot of young, talented women also working in the Prime Minister's Office. And I would ask her to withdraw her sexist comments.” 

In an attempt to make Elizabeth May look foolish, it would seem seem he didn’t count on her taking his comment in jest.

“I accept that there are, then, also women employed for the purpose of harassing scientists, bullying MPs, and muzzling civil servants,” she said.

“Glad we sorted that out,” replied Speaker of the House Andrew Sheer.

So you see, House of Commons debates are not always dull!


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